News & Features
May 2020 - The Gallop: “In Transition,” Not “Unwanted”
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 29 April 2020 05:21
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Equine welfare organizations follow the lead of small animal re-homing successes. 

by Kim F. Miller

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a boom in dog and cat adoptions from shelters throughout the country. Horses haven’t been so fortunate. Being a bigger money, time, labor and land undertaking than a small animal, horses face harder times now and likely well beyond the pandemic’s effect on human health.

But the news isn’t all dire.

 


Sunday, April 26 was the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ designated Help A Horse Day and this year its focal point was The Right Horse Initiative. This relatively new ASPCA program embodies positive trends in the equine industry coming together for the good of the horse. The Right Horse campaign encourages those able to foster or adopt a horse in need, opening up spaces at shelters where more horses may be surrendered or wind up due to COVID-19 related economic hardships.

 

Emphasizing adoptions and fostering is the crux of the program, following the example of small animal welfare groups dating back about 15 years. “If I can keep 10 horses forever, I can help 10 horses,” says ASPCA Vice President of Equine Welfare Dr. Emily Weiss. “If I can take in 10 horses and get them re-homed, I can help a lot more horses.”

“The world is a different place for equines now,” Dr. Weiss says when comparing the COVID-19 impact to that of the recession that started in 2008. “Back then, we heard a lot about places where horses could find a safe refuge, but much less in the way of re-homing. Today there is much more sophisticated support and much more coordination of industry support.”.  

To help individuals more easily connect with horses in need of temporary foster homes, the ASPCA is updating its online adoption platform, MyRightHorse.org, to spotlight horses available for fostering. The site, previously focused solely on encouraging adoption, now includes a re-branded homepage, opportunities to inquire about specific horses and resources about fostering.

Those unable to foster or adopt are encouraged to get involved by sharing an available horse from MyRightHorse.org on their social media channels to help spread the word and find a home.

Ivey. Description from Horse For Horses in Galt: Ivey McGee is a Thoroughbred mare. She is so gorgeous! She is a very dark bay, almost black, and definitely a looker. She spent several years as a broodmare. She is an alpha mare and requires a confident rider. For the right person, she will make a rewarding and event competitive partner. She is currently being ridden.

Lost In Transition

The language surrounding horses in need has helped prompt a positive sea change. While the term “unwanted” still lingers, it’s been emphatically replaced with “in transition” wherever possible. A major example is the multi-organizational effort, spearheaded by the American Horse Council, and originally called The Unwanted Horse Coalition. Last year, its name was changed to The United Horse Coalition.

Again, small animal welfare trends led the way. “We found with cats and dogs, about 15 years ago, that shelters were not the place to go for an adoptable animal,” Dr. Weiss explains. “Somehow those animals were considered ‘broken.’ With horses, we found that people thought of horses in shelters as somehow different from the horse in their backyard. The vast majority of them are not any different. Instead, we think of them as ‘lost in transition’ because they are transitioning between careers or homes.”

Mouse. Description excerpted from Saffyre Sanctuary, Inc. in Sylmar: For most of my life, I was on a rental string. I enjoyed being the babysitter for beginners, swimming in the ocean, and feeling like I had an important job. Nothing bothers me. I am fine around traffic, machinery, good with other animals and I am the perfect family horse. I am as close to bombproof as you will find. If you are looking for a cuddle-bug, I am it.

“There are horses that need to be ‘rescued,’” she clarifies. “They have medical issues, have been the victims of cruelty or are at the end of their lives.” These horses need to live out their lives in the specialized care of a suitable rescue or shelter. The majority of horses in need, however, are well suited to being transitioned to new homes and jobs. “Most horses coming through shelters are ready for their next adventure,” Dr. Weiss says.

The Thoroughbred Incentive Program, Retired Racehorse Project and the BLM and Mustang Heritage Foundation’s Mustang Makeovers are among the industry and breed-specific programs leading the way in popularizing and proving the merits of transitioning horses into new lives. “Efforts like these have provided the runway for what we are doing,” Dr. Weiss reports. “These are organizations committed to supporting their horses beyond their sport. It’s an exciting time for these horses in transition and those who could be at risk.”

Organizations’ willingness to set aside philosophical differences and come together for equine welfare has also played a big part, she continues. The United Horse Coalition and the The Right Horse program both reflect groups “setting aside our differences” to work together. Laws regarding horse slaughter and the Horse Racing Integrity Act are among the “big emotional” topics on which participating members may passionately disagree, yet progress for horses in transition is possible by focusing on points of agreement. Even as the wider political culture seems more divided than ever, horse welfare advocates are finding and positively exploiting their common ground.

Gio. Description from Love This Horse Equine Rescue in Mojave: Gio is a gorgeous chestnut gelding with a lot of professional training under his belt. He was entrusted to us by his former owner who is elderly and wanted Gio to continue his training and to find a home that will compete with him. He has his registration papers.

Right Horse Partners

The ASPCA program works with horse helping organizations in two phases, the first of which is the “Warm Up Ring.” In this phase, facilities must meet 13 vetting criteria, then are visited by a Right Horse rep for a site visit before onboarding as a partner program.
    
Right Horse Partners in California include:
•    Love This Horse Equine Rescue in Acton - www.lovethishorsearabianrescue.org
•    Hope For Horses in Galt - www.horse4horses.com
•    The Monty Roberts Institute in Solvang - www.MontyRoberts.com

Prospective Partners in the Warm-Up Ring include:
•    Win Home Place in Canyon Country - www.winhomeplace.org
•    Saffyre Sanctuary, Inc. in Sylmar - www.saffyresanctuary.org

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 .

 
May 2020 - Andrea Equine
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 29 April 2020 05:08
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Young entrepreneur does good while doing well.

by Kim F. Miller

A Craigslist ad, a $25 BLM Mustang and gumption galore have taken Andrea Cao a long way. This month, the Stanford University freshman and member of its western equestrian team celebrates the second anniversary of Andrea Equine, her second venture into entrepreneurship.

Her first venture, the Q-Flex, landed her on ABC-TV’s Shark Tank, where she earned a modest investment and guidance from Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran. That was in 2015 when Andrea was 13. The Shark Tankers’ support helped make a success of the Q-Flex, a self-acupressure device Andrea designed to help her single mother, a nurse, relieve tension in the hard-to-reach parts of her back.  

 


With the help of her mom, Hong Cao, Andrea brought the product to market, made door-to-door sales calls, then placed it with retailers in her San Luis Obispo County area. The simple device is now sold around the world with profits that made possible the purchase of the five-acre ranch in Atascadero where Andrea’s four horses live.

 

Her current venture is Andrea Equine, which includes a line of tack and equipment built on “ethical manufacturing, living wages, fair pricing and true quality.”

These are all things “that nobody in our industry was talking about” when Andrea began researching sources and processes for making the rope halters, leather tack and bits with bright turquoise accents that are now marketed around the world.

In addition to her entrepreneurial accomplishments, Andrea bootstrapped her way up from horse crazy kid with no money for lessons, let alone her own horse.

She’s now a seasoned trainer whose horsemanship resume includes starting several BLM Mustangs and other breeds and helping others develop their own.

All of the above was accomplished along with academic achievements required to be accepted to Stanford University, an institution with an acceptance rate of barely over 4 percent.

At home since the pandemic closed most of the campus in early March, Andrea is planning a leave of absence for the spring semester. She’ll refocus on training her own horses and spending more time on Andrea Equine.

A Brilliant “Black Sheep”

“Chaotic prioritizing” is Andrea’s secret for accomplishing all that she has and juggling her interests. “It’s learning what is most required of me at a certain time, and going down the list to get it done, even knowing that I’m never going to get everything on the list done.” Always a self-sufficient and independent kid, Andrea has a passion for her pursuits that provides natural motivation.

An inquisitive nature has served her well. That was helpful when she was “so blessed” to be selected for Stanford’s Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team among an always competitive field of candidates. For all her horsemanship accomplishments, Andrea had no competitive experience. “My position was trash!” she asserts. That opened a new realm of learning called “equitation” or “horsemanship,” the divisions for western discipline collegiate equestrian competition.  Most of her teammates are well versed in these subjects.

“Her internal motivation and curiosity are immense,” says Vanessa Bartsch, Stanford Equestrian Head Coach. The school’s admission policies have the effect of pre-screening prospective equestrian team members for exceptional characteristics, she notes. Even in that group, Andrea stands out.

“Here’s a kid who had, at 13, a business idea and ran with it. She loved horses, so she decided to get a Mustang and figure out how to train it by working with it. As a teenager... who does that?”

Teammates had heard Andrea’s Shark Tank backstory and were “excited to meet this person who was obviously really into horses,” recalls teammate Paiton Gleeson, a sophomore. “Not just the competition aspect, but she was clearly into the whole world of taking care of the horse and building a bond.”

Andrea’s “super bold nature” is what immediately struck Paiton when the freshman showed up at the Stanford Red Barn last fall. “She immediately had this huge presence and was not afraid to try new things. When you first come on campus, it can be a little intimidating, but she didn’t seem intimidated at all.”

Paiton also admires the fact that, even with Andrea’s impressive equestrian accomplishments, she had no problem asking for help with the unfamiliar aspects of competition.

Paiton expects Andrea to have a broad influence on the team. “She is really involved in the D-School (Design School), which has an entrepreneur focus. That is kind of the spirit she brings to the team in terms of wanting to figure out ways to make the whole team, and everyone on it, better.” Upgrading the tack room with Andrea Equine gear is an immediate example.
    

“A PhD in Feel”

Andrea’s earliest equestrian wishes were fulfilled through a Craigslist ad seeking to trade barn chores for the chance to ride somebody’s horse -- never mind that she didn’t know how. “I taught myself how to ride,” she shares. “It’s a miracle I made it on the team.”

“After the first couple weeks of instruction on the team I realized I had no idea what I was doing and had spent 10 years using the wrong position,” Andrea continues cheerfully. “I rode in a ‘chair seat’ -- I sat on my butt when I learned to ride and was breaking colts. Looking back, I don’t know what was keeping me on.”

She approached the process of re-learning to ride “gracefully and playfully,” Vanessa says. The constant catch-riding format of IHSA competition can be humbling enough, but Andrea embraced the extra requirement of revising her position for competition purposes. Learning to use her inner thigh for a secure position and to reach her leg down long around the horse’s side was a big change from the short stirrup lengths that were a habit after starting many young horses.

The end result has been well worth it for reasons beyond the higher likelihood of earning points for her IHSA team. The better position quickly translated to being a more effective rider, a realization that didn’t take long thanks to what her coach calls a “PhD in feel.”

What Andrea lacked in show experience, she makes up for in instincts. “She may not be used to doing hundreds of patterns, but when we put her on a horse that’s having a bad day, she calms them immediately,” Vanessa reports. “She has a supportive temperament that makes her perfect any time we’re having a horse challenge.”

The prospect of making the equestrian team was a deciding factor in Andrea’s college choice and it has brought friendships and sanity to the exciting swirl of freshman life. Andrea jokingly calls herself “the black sheep” on a western squad that includes “someone with a legendary barrel racing record and an Arabian show world champion.” Her own experience with starting horses, ground manners, round penning and other training techniques has blended with her teammates’ experience in the form of “some interesting conversations,” she says. “It’s been really cool to add that perspective.”

Above all, “My teammates are my best friends,” Andrea adds. “Without them, I think I’d go crazy.”
    

Rewards Beyond Ribbons

Lack of show experience has never meant a lack of rewarding experiences. Working with any horse, especially the wild Mustangs and especially her “heart horse,” Spirit, has always produced daily rewards. “Even though there’s no ribbons, no spectators or any kind of public validation, it’s super cool how many small goals and victories there are,” she says of starting horses from scratch. “When a Mustang that was not bred to be trained first gets the confidence to come up and smell your hand, when you halter break a foal, or saddle up a horse for the first time, it’s all so monumental. All of those things set the tone of your relationship.”

The process continues with under-saddle work. “When you get the horse to soften laterally, to collect for a split second or slide to a stop with their hind end underneath them...There is so much reward and fulfillment in those moments.”

The trail is Andrea’s favorite teaching terrain. “You can work a horse in the arena as much as you want, but it doesn’t mean the horse is going to stay with you out on trail. Barking dogs and train tracks are among the interesting journeys to lead a horse on.” Round pen work is another stage for training methods that fall loosely under the “natural horsemanship” heading.  The teachings of Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance and Buck Brannaman are among the influences reflected in her own mix of methods.

Unique Take On Tack

Getting into the tack business resulted from frustrations over the quality, cost and manufacturing practices involved in existing supply. She found that the ethical and transparent manufacturing processes critical to her definition of Q-Flex’s success were not standards or even familiar as she began investigating tack supply chains.

She was “shocked” to find tack companies not owned by horse people and brands marketed as high quality that sourced materials in countries with poor labor practices. As she began to make inquiries, “They couldn’t tell me much about the manufacturing process in terms of working conditions and what people were being paid,” Andrea explains. “I feel like customers should demand to know that information from companies they buy from.

“I don’t care about being the biggest player in the market,” she continues. “I just want to inspire the conversation.”

Using fair and sustainable manufacturing process while keeping Andrea Equine tack affordable is a challenging balancing act. “Fair pricing does have to reflect what we have to pay to support the family-owned companies we work with. It’s a give and take and a constant conversation.”  

The tack is made by a network of small businesses across America. “One of our first leather manufacturing sources were Amish people,” Andrea recounts. Communication involved emails that were responded to via a hand-written letter that was faxed back. Andrea Equine’s product development phase took a year of “flying around the country, meeting all these people,” she explains. “It was such an adventure.”

Her business management principles and priorities were firm early on. During the Shark Tank opportunities with the Q-Flex, “Mark Cuban told me we could reduce our costs by working with China,” Andrea explains. “I said, Why? Our margin is already great. Why take away business from people who are not only manufacturers, they’re our friends? That’s just how we are doing things.”

Regular donations to horses in need is another firm element of Andrea Equine’s business model.

With sales doing well and coming from around the world, Andrea hopes the next expansion may be into english tack. Newly exposed to the hunter/jumper world through her Stanford Equestrian friends and experiences, Andrea is cooking up some ideas and has plenty of advice and product testers for the next three years.  

Presuming normal school will resume in the fall, Andrea will continue on a self-created course of study she describes as “as close to a business start-up major as you can get.”

Meantime, she’s excited about what the leave of absence may make possible. Along with continuing with her own horses, she’s looking for an opportunity to dive deep into the reining discipline. “It’s really cool having some freedom to work on exactly what I want to work on and see where I want to go with it.”

Extra time will likely to devoted to Andrea Equine. “It’s such a great balance of turning my passion into my career and it’s been such a blessing at every stage,” she explains of the plan to keep that as her career and to train as a not-for-profit pursuit.

“I can use my training experience and time to develop and refine the feel of products, and impact so many more equestrians that way. As a trainer, I can only help six horses/clients at a time. With Andrea Equine, I can help and enable thousands of people achieve a better relationship with their horses on a daily basis.”

 
April 2020 - Every Horse Deserves Good Footing
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 01 April 2020 00:51
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Premier Equestrian parlays its place at the forefront of evolving arena industry to bring benefits to all.

by Kim F. Miller

Premier Equestrian has deservedly received a lot of attention and praise for its work as Exclusive Footing Products Supplier for the International Arena at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida. WEF is a global hub for highest-level show jumping, especially this year because of the World Cup Finals being held in the U.S. and the Olympics, that were set for this summer.

Closer to its home base in Sandy, Utah, the company has been winning over the West Coast for some time. Four-time Olympic dressage team member Steffen Peters was among the first Californians to recognize the benefits of Premier’s OTTO Sport Arena Base Mats, range of footing blends and expertise on sand, footing additives and all facets of arena construction.

 


Last fall, Peridot Equestrian in San Marcos chose Premier Equestrian as the best fit for its plans to become a hub of high-level dressage education and training. Most recently, the new owners of Toyon Farm in Napa, have chosen Premier Equestrian for an arena overhaul.

Peridot and Toyon have a common denominator in that first-hand experience made easy work of this critical decision in facility planning and management.

Peridot’s Jessica Eaves Mathews and her daughter Katherine kept their horses at Steffen and Shannon Peters’ Arroyo Del Mar stables in San Diego before opening Peridot. “I know there are other good footing companies out there, but I figured why mess with what works?” explains Jessica. “It was kind of a no brainer.”

Converting what had been a jumper training facility was a major undertaking and the arena and footing were “the easiest parts of the process.” Since they moved in and started riding last fall, “The footing has been perfect,” Jessica reports. “Everybody who comes here loves it.” Those “everybodys” include resident dressage trainers Dawn White-O’Connor, Niki Clarke and Verena Sonstenes-Mahin.

Toyon Farm was recently purchased by the Bonavito family, whose daughter Danielle Bonavito has been training in Florida all winter with her coach and Olympic hopeful, Sabine Schut Kery.  Sabine’s base in Wellington, TYL Dressage, has a Premier Equestrian arena.

“It was an easy decision when Sabine asked me to check out their footing,” says Danielle, a rising dressage star whom the Bonavitos have entrusted with arena decisions. She is familiar with Sabine’s horses and saw how confidently and comfortably they worked in the Premier Equestrian arena. Next, Danielle visited WEF and watched jumpers meet their sport’s demands in the International Arena. The Toyon team was sold on what they saw.

Premier Equestrian is the exclusive U.S. distributor for Germany’s OTTO Sport Arena Base Mats. Their ability to reduce concussive impact by 40% was a strong selling point, Danielle explains. So was Premier’s ability to consult expertly on footing selection and all phases of Toyon Farm arena construction. The installation is being handled by one of Premier Equestrians’ Preferred Builders, Tony Judge’s Olympia Footing, and was set to be finished in late March.
    

FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI3* sponsored by Premier Equestrian, victors Sabine Schut-Kery (USA) and Sanceo at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Photo: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian

An Option For Everybody

Premier Equestrian’s dominance in the West is just beginning, thanks to services and products that fit a range of budgets and priorities. Not everybody can get an International Arena-grade riding surface, Premier’s Heidi Zorn acknowledges.

“But everybody can get much better footing.”

The first of those options is DIY arena building. At this most affordable tier, Premier Equestrian walks the client through the best choices for their needs and budget. This starts with preparatory steps like arena location and grading and continues through the final touches of sand selection, footing blends and maintenance, all factors that vary depending on climate, proximity of suitable sand and arena use.

Working with a Preferred Builder, as Toyon Farm is doing with Olympia Footing, is an option for those who want a turn-key solution.

Arena building plans are Premier Equestrian’s newest service. “These are similar to engineered plans for building a home,” explains Heidi. “They can be taken to any excavator or licensed road contractor.” The plans include four base options and come with three detailed bid sheets for comparing accurate bids from local contractors. “The plans tell the contractor what kind of grading, compaction, testing and drainage is needed,” says Heidi. “They are perfect for people who don’t have a preferred builder in their region and who want the option between DIY and having somebody else build their arena.”

Premier Equestrian recently provided the OTTO Sport Base Mats and the ProTex Footing product for the International arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, in Wellington, FL. Photo: Sportfot

“Super Sand”

Sand concentrate is a new Premier Equestrian product that improves riding surface performance while containing costs. Too many people overlook the importance of sand characteristics when building or rehabbing an arena, Heidi stresses.

“It’s not just about the fiber additives and the arena base. Sand is a huge key component in the final footing.”

The seemingly simple topic is complicated by the reality that sand characteristics vary geographically. There’s no such thing as “arena sand” even though building materials suppliers might market theirs as such. This explains why WEF owners, Equestrian Sports Productions, transported and mixed several different sands to reach the perfect footing blend.

Premier’s very fine silica sand concentrate addresses these challenges by binding to more common sands from any region. If it’s determined that an arena needs four inches of sand, for example, three inches of most local sands can be combined with one inch of Premier Equestrian’s “super sand” to work with any of its footing products. All proposed sands are tested for clients’ needs as part of Premier’s process.  
    

Heidi Zorn congratulates Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo on their win in the AGDF FEI 3* Grand Prix presented by Premier Equestrian.

Heidi Zorn congratulates Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo on their win in the AGDF FEI 3* Grand Prix presented by Premier Equestrian.

At Forefront of Evolving Industry

Prior to the current Winter Equestrian Festival arrangement that extends through 2022, Premier Equestrian may have been best known in the dressage world. That could be because Heidi is a dressage rider herself and has frequently spoken at educational events. And it could be because dressage riders often lead the way in identifying riding surface as critical to their horse’s performance and longevity in the sport. Playing a critical role in the International Arena where Nations Cup, Olympic qualifying and millions of dollars in prize money was determined, Premier Equestrian is now front and center in the show jumping world, too.

Footing advances at the sports’ highest levels have a trickle-down benefit for horses at the sport’s more populated base levels. Heidi is thrilled to see the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) lead the way in setting ever-higher standards for the safety and enhanced performance of its athletes. With arena surfaces, this involves cutting-edge research and technology and objective methods for defining “good footing.”

The FEI recently enlisted the Objective Biomechanical Surface Testing machine, aka the “OBST,” to quantify the various forces of impact involved in take-off, landing, galloping and turning. It measures the impact, cushion, responsiveness and grip, and the uniformity of those characteristics throughout the surface. In essence, it measures what the horse feels when it performs on a specific surface.

Equestrian Sport Productions’ Palm Beach International Equestrian Center closely followed the FEI’s lead regarding footing. The 12-week WEF series included four weeks of 5* rated competition, which must meet the footing standards made possible by the OBST.

Heidi hopes that national sport governing bodies will follow suit in adopting clear standards for footing that keeps horses safe and sound. But even before that happens, horse owners in all disciplines are becoming better educated about what surfaces -- at home and shows -- are best for their horses. That’s moving the needle in the right direction, she says.  

Premier Equestrian’s principals are horse people, too. Heidi is an amateur dressage rider when time allows. Keeping more horses comfortable and performing at their peak longer is a gratifying aspect of the work. “The way the arena is built at WEF is only accessible to the upper economic echelons,” she confirms. “But we have options that make it affordable for everybody to have better footing.”

For more information on Premier Equestrian visit www.premierequestrian.com.

 


OTTO Sport

Premier Equestrian has been the exclusive United States distributor for OTTO Sport Base Mats from Germany since 2014. OTTO Sport mats have been used by top competitors throughout Europe for over 30 years and represented exclusively in the United States by Premier Equestrian, Inc. since 2014. The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 2010 World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park and the renowned Aachen Equestrian Festival are among the 6,000 top arenas worldwide to use OTTO Sport.

 

From the all-important horse’s perspective, OTTO Sport Base Mats absorb 40% of the concussive force when the hoof hits the ground, while jumping or galloping between fences. Cutting that impact by 40% -- even before adding the cushion of the footing blend atop the base – means substantially cutting down wear and tear on the horse’s joints.  It’s often said that every horse has only so many jumps in its body. OTTO Sport makes it possible to get the most from each jumping effort and hoof-fall.

Remarkable drainage capacity is another unique OTTO Sport advantage – up to eight inches per hour. Dressage Olympian Steffen Peters and his wife Shannon witnessed this first-hand in 2015, when California’s El Niño rains flooded much of their stable property in San Diego. They were able to ride through it thanks to their newly installed OTTO Sport Base Mats and ProTex footing blend from Premier Equestrian. That was a big boost to Steffen’s successful bid for a spot on the U.S. Rio Olympics dressage team, where he contributed to the bronze medal.

As a boarder at the Peters’ stable during that time, the experience was one of many that sold Peridot Equestrian’s Jessica Mathews on Premier Equestrian.

 
April 2020 - Horse People: Ben Ebeling
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Tuesday, 31 March 2020 23:53
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horsepeople

In a happy place even while sheltered amid scary world events.

by Kim F. Miller

Twenty-year-old Californian Ben Ebeling has long been a familiar face on the Florida winter dressage circuit. At the end of a cut-short circuit in mid-March, he made himself unmissable by leading his team to victory in the CDIO3* U25 Nations Cup.  He and Nuvolari Holdings, LLC’s Illuster Van de Kempert contributed to team gold with a second-place finish at Intermediate II; and wins in the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle, scoring 70%, 71.179% and 75.13% respectively.

Ben is the son of 2012 U.S. Olympic dressage team member Jan Ebeling and Amy Ebeling, who were based out of their Moorpark facility, The Acres, full time for most of Ben’s youth. His parents never forced him to ride competitively, but they did insist he know enough to be safe working around horses and riding on family outings. About midway through high school, he settled on a much more serious equestrian path, and in two disciplines. Up until last year, he competed at Young Rider levels in both dressage and jumping.  In the process, The Acres became a hub of USDF Region 7 Young Rider activity and success. Ben attended his first  Championships in 2016, initially as a rider, then, due to a last-minute lameness, he contributed in other ways that earned him the Andrew B. D’szinay Sportsmanship Trophy. For the next few years, he and The Acres stablemates were core members of Region 7’s teams.

 


Starting college at Carnegie Mellon University in the fall of 2018 triggered a change for the Ebelings and coincided with them moving into a new partial-year base in Wellington. It’s called Tierra Contenda, Spanish for “happy place,” and it’s been that for Ben.

Along with being a terrific school, Carnegie Mellon is located in Pittsburgh, only a two-hour flight from Wellington, so his parents and the horses were not far away. As a freshman, he started out without riding, which was “a bit tough coming from riding all day every day.” Another plan involved a heavy load of six classes and flying to Florida every other week to keep up with his riding. “That was insane.”
    

Photo: US Equestrian

Happy Medium

Ben then found a happy medium in a Monday-through-Wednesday class schedule, then flying to Florida to work with the horses and compete Wednesday afternoon through Sunday. Most recently, he’d scaled down his course load to better accommodate riding. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, he’ll study remotely as college students are doing throughout the country.

“We are super lucky in that we can continue working and we and those who work with us are kind of isolated in our site,” Ben explains. If the pandemic is contained and activity normalizes, the Ebelings plan to return to their Moorpark home stable in July — already postponed from their normal May return. The plan is to stay in California through November, when Amy is among those helping stage the new Desert Dressage CDI at the Desert International Horse Park in the Palm Springs area’s Thermal.

Like the rest of the world, the Ebelings’ plans are fluid in these uncertain days. “It’s a really scary time,” Ben acknowledges of the coronavirus pandemic. “ We need to take it seriously and take all the precautions to help ‘flatten the curve.’ At the same time, I think we all need to take a deep breath.” As the logistical leader of the Ebeling endeavors, Amy is handling the situation in a typically admirable way, Ben says. “She has been awesome with our staff, hosting meetings every day and making sure that everybody is safe and comfortable.”

If and when the competition season resumes, Ben plans to target the U25 Brentina Cup and possibly the Small Tour division. Continuing his jumper career isn’t on the current agenda: his horse, Caddilac FS Z, was sold last year. “It’s the first time I haven’t had a jumper and it’s a little sad because that is really where my heart is. I love every minute of the jumping, but with school and dressage, I needed to take something off my plate.”
    
Promise & Challenge

Doing so well with the 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, Illuster Van De Kampert, is a major milestone in a partnership of promise and challenge.

The “jumper-like energy” Ben sensed and loved when he first tried Illuster in October of 2018 has been a double-edged sword. “The moment I sat on him he was the most fun horse I’d ever sat on,” he recalls. “He had that jumper mentality and energy and his gaits are fantastic.”

The process of getting him into the Grand Prix ring was “an awesome project for me and my dad,” Ben says. They started off well last January in the Young Rider division in Florida and enjoyed a good year of getting to know each other. “The whole season at Young Rider level, he was super hot in the ring and I knew, as we got into Grand Prix, he would get hotter and hotter.”

Indeed, the transition had its rough patches. During a Grand Prix outing last summer in Europe, Illuster’s energy was so excessive that Ben chose to retire from the test.

“He is very anticipatory of the next movements,” Ben says of Illuster, a half-brother to Steffen Peters’ Suppenkasper through their sire Spielberg. “He has such large movements, especially in the passage, it’s like he was afraid of himself.” Adjusting his nutrition with the help of sponsor Cavalor Feed and working to make the horse more comfortable with himself and in the show ring brought gradual improvements.

Their first three to four CDIs of the 2020 season saw scores from 59 to 64s, and “I was like, Yeah!” Ben shares. By Week 8 of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, Illluster was settling into the new groove of being both “calm and on,” resulting in Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle victories, and crossing the 70s threshold. “I was beside myself!” Although the Festival ended two weeks early, Ben was thrilled to close it on their Week 10 victory in the CDIO U25 Nations Cup win March 11-12 with the U.S.’ Stars and Stripes squad.

“Winning a team medal for me is one of the most satisfying and exciting accomplishments in the sport of dressage,” he says. “To have that result in our first U25 Nations Cup was very rewarding for the whole team. The most special thing about the whole weekend was realizing that after hard work and determination, great results are being achieved.”
    

Photo: Holly Smith / PS Dressage

Fortuitous Coffee Shop Stop

Ben and Illuster have a coffee shop encounter to thank for getting connected. It occurred while returning home from his first European Young Rider tour, in 2018 with Behlinger. With the horse quarantined before going directly to the North American Youth Championships in Old Salem, New York, Ben and Amy where staying with New York friends and had visited a coffee shop, both wearing their USA Dressage hats.

“This lady approached and asked if we rode dressage,” Ben explains. “I introduced myself and she said, ‘I’ve heard of you and I have a horse for you.’ At first, honestly, I thought she was a little crazy! It was my first experience having somebody approach me and know who I was.”

Four months later, visiting his folks in Florida during a break from his first semester in college, Ben remembered the woman’s offer to come see the horse. Illuster was at Marcus Fyffe Dressage program in the Wellington area.

The woman in the coffee shop, Sasha Cutter, was, in fact, crazy in the savvy sort of way regarding Illuster and Ben’s suitability. A rider herself, she’s now in training with Jan Ebeling and is a co-owner of the horse with the Ebelings.

Looking Ahead

Along with Illuster, Ben continues to compete Behlinger, his partner in 2017 NAYC Region 7 Junior team gold and a European Young Rider tour, plus a newer U25 horse, Diamond’s Diva. Longtime Ebeling family friend and owner Ann Romney has an ownership interest in Behlinger and Diamond’s Diva.

The Romney and Ebelings’ long friendship made headlines in 2012 when Jan and Rafalca represented the U.S. at the London Olympics, while Ann’s husband Mitt Romney ran for president of the United States. Exposure to life, events and ideas beyond the horse world has been a big part of Ben’s upbringing. That is reflected in his open-minded and enthusiastic outlook on future career paths.

Carnegie Mellon is providing a great continuation of interesting new friends and international connections, he explains. Pursuing a business degree with a marketing concentration is an invigorating path, whether as a “back up plan” to horses or as a career. “You have to have interests in addition to horses,” he says. “Whether that lines up as my career or I do horses after school will just depend on how things are going and how I feel.”

Meantime, Ben is enjoying riding an average of 10 to 13 horses every day while in Florida, appreciating every minute of being able to shelter in a happy place and do what he loves.

 
March 2020 - The Gallop: Rare Breed Resurgence
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Monday, 02 March 2020 21:10
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El Campeon Farms steps up as a steward of the Santa Cruz Island Horses.

by Kim F. Miller

Many good developments had a generous boost from the Gonda family’s El Campeon Farms. Star junior rider Eva Gonda brought the family into the equestrian world as a passionate and talented hunter/jumper rider. Eva’s coach, Will Simpson, helped the US Equestrian Team earn a gold show jumping medal at the 2008 Olympics with their horse Carsson vom Dach.

 


The center in South Ventura County’s Thousand Oaks is a longtime USET Training facility. Its beautiful white-fenced pastures, big red barns and perfectly footed arenas are now home to a handful of fortunate professional horsemen -- Sabine Schut-Kery, Abigail Followwill and Katrina Karazissis. It’s a popular film location where seven Super Bowl commercials with the Budweiser Clydesdales were shot, and it regularly welcomes the public for everything from school field trips to high performance clinics.

 

A rare breed of horses is El Campeon’s current beneficiary since the Farm became a steward of the Santa Cruz Island Horses in 2014. These gentle, hearty horses can trace their genetics to the Iberian Peninsula, the origin point for the Colonial Spanish horses brought to North America by the Conquistadors and California’s Missionary Padres.

Donatello.

Donatello and his rider, Willow.

The horses were brought to the Channel Island’s Santa Cruz Island the late 1880s to help with ranching endeavors. They were used for wide-ranging tasks from herding cattle and sheep on the Island’s 60,000 acres, to pulling plows and family buggies. Some even showed up as stunt animals in early 1900s films.

Ranching ended on the Island in the 1980s and the horses’ fate fell into question for many years. They had fared well in a mostly feral state when the Island was sold from private hands to come under the National Park Service’s jurisdiction. A long battle ensued over whether the horses should be allowed to stay or be removed because they were not a native species.

Dr. Karen Blumenshine of the Santa Barbara Equine Practice was among those to lobby for letting them stay. Supporters sometimes slept on the island in fear the horses would be culled in the middle of the night. Simultaneously, Dr. Blumenshine initiated the process of researching the breed’s genetics. With the assistance of UC Davis veterinarians and geneticists, it was established that these horses had a unique genetic pool with sufficient diversity to sustain breeding the herd.

By the late 1990s, the California government won on removing the horses from the Island and supporters switched tactics to ensure their survival in new environments.

Dianne Nelson at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shasta County’s Shingletown took in the last of the herd.  The horses’ long isolation on Santa Cruz had preserved their genetics, but that also made them susceptible to diseases. And their lack of experience with predators made them easy targets for mountain lions.

Christina Nooner led the next step toward salvation by adopting a five-day old filly from the resettled herd. Named “Sunshine,” the filly was nursed to health and is now the namesake for the Sunshine Sanctuary for kids and horses in the Bay Area’s Los Molinos. She’s was the first member of a what’s now called the Heavenly Heritage Herd.

Simultaneously, work continued to determine and preserve their genetics through DNA testing and consultation with equine genetic experts. This research confirmed the connection to the Spanish horses and those discoveries have inspired others to help ensure the breed’s perpetuation.

Enter El Campeon

Finding breed stewards to broaden and multiply efforts on the horses’ behalf was the next step. El Campeon owners Kelly and Lou Gonda learned about the horses through their interest in goats. “Will (Simpson) had won the gold medal and the Gondas’ children were grown and off on their own,” explains Christy Reich, El Campeon’s manager. While researching the origins of goats on another Channel Island, San Clemente Island, the Gondas learned of the Santa Cruz Island horses and their plight. “Lou came to the United States as a 16-year-old and he’s always had a fascination with California history and the early California cowboy -- Vaquero -- way of life,” Christy continues.

In 2016, El Campeon purchased 13 Santa Cruz Island horses, including three stallions, and committed itself to breeding and promoting the horse’s great temperaments and versatility.

As a steward of the breed’s future, the El Campeon team works with UC Davis’ equine geneticists and reproductive experts to establish best practices, standards and protections. The horse’s best traits are good temperaments and calm brains, Christy reports. At an average height of 14hh, they are easy to handle and ideal for children and amateurs who dominate inquiries when the horses compete or participate in demos and exhibitions. They appeal to people getting back into riding after a hiatus and to experienced riders downsizing from Warmbloods.
    

Working Equitation: A Perfect Fit

Equally important is ensuring that these horses will have a job. “Like every breed, you have to redefine what their job is to make it,” Christy explains. “If we just breed them, then they will live and die with us.”

Working Equitation is a relatively new discipline in the United States, but it’s a very old one where it originated on the working ranches of Portugal. “It’s such an interesting sport. Parts of it speak to the high-performance side,” Christy observes. “When you see some of the riders at the top of the sport, they are doing tempi changes through the obstacles, for example. It’s all about proper collection, classical riding and horses having a good brain because they have to do all the different events in a workmanlike manner.”

The level-headed, intelligent temperaments and physical abilities of the Santa Cruz Island horses make them perfect partners in Working Equitation. While she’s partial to the SCI horses, Christy notes that all horses can excel in the discipline: “It’s non-denominational!”

El Campeon participates in and promotes the discipline. Last year, the inaugural El Campeon Invitational was a big success with 40 horses and their characteristically friendly owners. “It’s such a cool group of people, all from different walks of life,” Christy notes. “Everybody is really supportive of each other.”

A Working Equitation schooling show took place in late February and this year’s El Campeon Invitational will be held on Memorial Day Weekend.

El Campeon’s breed ambassador, Cochise, shines in Working Equitation, Western Dressage and Open dressage competition. In the latter, he’s already scoring well in Training Level work, thanks to naturally-relaxed fluid gaits that are prized by riders and judges. He wowed one of dressage’s top talent spotters, Christine Traurig, during a recent visit, Christy recounts. “She stopped teaching a lesson when she saw him and said, ‘Who is that?’”

Smaller than traditional dressage breeds and often wrapped in eye-catching shades of palomino, cremello and liver chestnut, the horses stand out and inspire inquiries. Chochise and his stablemates have made their mark at competitions throughout the region. This year’s itinerary includes the Showcase in April in Los Angeles and the Andalusian World Cup in Las Vegas this August.

The successful appearances are building demand for the breed and El Campeon hopes to have its first batch of homebreds available for sale soon, possibly this year. It all depends on how they progress in their training with El Campeon rider Abigail Followwill. El Campeon has four mature stallions and two junior stallions. Breedings have included some carefully considered out-crossing, under the close direction of UC Davis scientists, to ensure genetic diversity.

In lieu of a pre-existing registry for the Santa Cruz Island horses, El Campeon works with The Livestock Conservancy, which works to save many heritage breeds from extinction.

While the Santa Cruz Island horses are very different from the hunters and jumpers El Campeon was once famous for, they surely have equal -- likely more -- gratitude for all the Farm and its family have made possible for them.

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 .

 
March 2020 - $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award
Written by by Nan Meek
Monday, 02 March 2020 19:56
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Now accepting applications until April 10.

by Nan Meek

The Mounted Patrol Foundation and the Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) are pleased to announce a new scholarship, the $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award, jointly sponsored by the two organizations for a deserving local high school senior with a demonstrated involvement in equestrian activities as well as academic achievement and community service.

 


Both the Mounted Patrol Foundation and WHOA! share a deep interest in the next generation of equestrians, as well as a commitment to helping them achieve worthwhile goals, through each organizations’ ongoing activities and now through their joint sponsorship of the new $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award.

 

Application deadline is April 10, 2020, at 3:00 pm, and incomplete applications will not be considered. Eligible applicants are seniors who attend high schools in San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Francisco Counties, and who have been accepted to and plan to attend a college, university or other continuing education program this fall. The $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award will be paid directly to the recipient’s college, university or continuing education program in support of the recipient’s tuition, fees, room and/or board.

Selection criteria include demonstrated equestrian involvement, academic achievement, and community service. Financial need will be taken into consideration in the selection of the scholarship recipient. Finalists will be required to provide transcripts showing their GPA. The scholarship will be awarded by May 29, 2020.

Applications and important information are available online at https://whoa94062.org/grants-awards/ and http://mountedpatrolfoundation.org/Scholarships.htm .

The Mounted Patrol Foundation believes that horses and equestrian activities have helped create a wonderful, healthy community in Woodside, California, and the surrounding area.

Historically, horses were essential to life in the United States for transportation, work and pleasure. The Mounted Patrol Foundation seeks to honor this legacy by continuing to support, maintain, develop and encourage equestrian facilities, activities and heritage in the town of Woodside, the county of San Mateo and the state of California. Their vision also includes the preservation of horse habitats and trail systems to provide both opportunities and environments conducive to the enjoyment of horses for horse owners and the public at large. The Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3), charitable organization that works in collaboration with local government, other public agencies and other non-profits to support and promote equestrian activities and facilities in the area. Learn more at www.mountedpatrolfoundation.org.

The Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) works independently and in collaboration with other organizations and local government to ensure that the presence of the horse in Woodside and the surrounding San Mateo County communities is recognized, protected, and promoted. Its mission 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. WHOA! envisions a community where horses and horse activities for equestrians and the general public are appreciated, and where the rural landscape, trail networks, and horse properties are preserved. Operating under the fiscal umbrella of the Woodside Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit org., WHOA! has gifted more than $200,000 to local equestrian projects and programs thanks to generous sponsors, volunteers, and the proceeds of its annual Woodside Day of the Horse celebration.

Find out more at www.whoa94062.org.

 
February 2020 - Editor's Notes
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Saturday, 01 February 2020 22:45
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editors

What a treat to have a stellar sire, Olympic Imothep, on our cover and ridden by California girl Nicki Shahanian-Simpson. It’s awesome to have an American breeding program bring such wonderful European bloodlines to the States. Imothep is the foundation sire for Hyperion Stud, LLC. Hope you enjoy the feature article on this great breeding program, along with several articles on everything from specific stallions to an overview of modern breeding practices.

 


This month’s extra dive into the hunter/jumper world is highlighted by a preview of the FEI World Cup™ Finals for jumping and dressage, coming to Las Vegas before we know it this April. Thanks to Darby Furth Bonomi for a terrific glimpse of how tapping into the joy of our sport is the best route to success, and to Whitethorne Ranch’s Georgy Maskrey-Segesman for sharing horse shopping tips. We have the scoop on Ashlee and Steve Bond’s clinic at Hansen Dam Horse Park and the well-earned honors junior rider Julia Stone and professional Nick Haness received during the USEF Annual Meeting’s Pegasus Awards dinner.

 

photo courtesy of Tamie Smith

Our team managed to cover a lot of ground in January. You’ll find an extensive report on the California Dressage Society’s annual meeting from Nan Meek; plus photo highlights from the CPHA Awards Banquet, EquestFest and the Galway Downs Fundraising Clinic. Phew…

Now to work on our March issue, which has a special focus on horse health and eventing. Speaking of the latter, fun to see California-based stars Tamie Smith and Frankie Thieriot-Stutes representing their sport to new audiences as guests at Land Rover’s new 4xFar Festival in Coachella. As Sally Spickard reported for Eventing Nation, Tamie and Frankie – with Chatwin and Mai Stein – represented US Equestrian, making new fans for the sport riding around the grounds at the Empire Grand Oasis and greeting fans who visited in the FEI-Stabling set-up there.

Happy riding and happy reading!

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 


 

ADOPT ME!

Cami is a 15 yr old quarter horse mare up for adoption at FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, California.

She stands 14.3 hands high and is broke to ride, but needs someone who will take the time to love her and bond with her.

She is not aloof, just sour on life a little. She tacks up fine and stands still for mounting/un-mounting great, but making her go is not the easiest of things if you are a novice. She just needs a tune up with an assertive rider. On the ground shes a sweetheart.

She loves to be groomed and has a sweet personality. Gorgeous girl for the right person. Adoption fee is $500.

Please see Cami on our website at www.falconridgerescue.org under Horses For Adoption and follow the instructions.

 
January 2020 - The Gallop: SafeSport
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 01 January 2020 00:55
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Presentation at USHJA Annual Meeting addresses questions about a process widely supported in theory but hotly debated in its execution.

by Kim F. Miller

A standing-room-only presentation on SafeSport during the United States Hunter Jumper Association’s annual meeting has returned the subject to top talking point in many circles. The presentation was given by the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s Michael Henry, chief officer for response and resolution.

USHJA president Mary Babick set the stage for Henry’s presentation in a letter to members before the meeting: “As an organization, the USHJA is committed to safety and fairness for our members. Our sport produces many positives for our participants. Horses bring horsemanship, sportsmanship, empathy and teamwork into our lives. But let’s face it, whether it is the treatment of horses or people, we also have dark corners of the sport. As a sport and a community, we can and should be better.

 


“As equestrians it is our duty to work to make our sport strong and healthy. It is time to step up and no longer tolerate inappropriate behavior and to emerge as a safer and altogether more positive environment for our people and our horses. We should have zero tolerance for cruelty and abuse whether of horses or humans. Victim shaming and blaming is never acceptable.

 

“In the wake of the U.S. Center for SafeSport ban of George Morris, on Monday, November 25 the USHJA Board of Directors voted to re-name the Hunterdon Cup and remove the George H. Morris trophy from the International Hunter Derby. 

“The USHJA supports the mission of SafeSport. Our support does not make us deaf to the questions raised by many members concerning some of the processes utilized by the U.S. Center for SafeSport.”

A Razor-Thin Balance

The two-hour-plus presentation during the Annual Meeting in Denver included detailed explanations of what happens when a claim is filed, how an investigation proceeds, why and when restrictions are placed on “respondents” and background on SafeSport’s formation.

Dispelling the notion that any step in the process involved “willy nilly” decisions was a key message, as was explaining that SafeSport walks a razor’s edge between protecting the rights, reputations and livelihoods of claimants and respondents and mitigating the risk of ongoing harm to others.

The entire presentation can be viewed at www.ushja.org. This reporter recommends the talk to everyone in our sport. As Henry explained, everyone who “meaningfully participates” in a sport that’s part of the “Olympic movement” is subject to SafeSport regulations, per the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017.

That includes trainers, exhibitors, volunteers, etc. SafeSport’s mission is two-fold: to prevent abuse and misconduct through education and training; and to provide accountability through its investigation and sanctioning process. The Center is an independent non-profit with jurisdiction over all sports within the U.S. Olympic and Para Olympic movement.

The presentation was dense with information that exceeds available space. A few highlights:

Reporting: “We can only investigate when we get a report,” said Henry. “We don’t cull the internet looking for misconduct.” Reports come primarily through website submissions at www.uscenterforsafesport.org. These range from a stated allegation – sometimes anonymous – to allegations accompanied by uploadable documents that support the claim: emails and audio files, for example. “It’s a way for people to raise an alarm that something needs to be looked at. Many times, these are third party reports.”

Investigations: Initial intake and preliminary inquiry determining the veracity of claim begin the process. SafeSport’s investigative team consists of people with backgrounds in law, law enforcement, social work, child protective services and other relevant fields. With or without the claimant’s input beyond the initial claim,  SafeSport investigators attempt to corroborate their statements in various ways. Claimants often suggest others who can speak on the subject. Nobody is forced to cooperate with the inquiry, including the claimant.

“We don’t take every case and move it through to formal investigation and adjudication,” Henry explained. If there is not sufficient evidence to initiate a formal investigation, the case is filed as “administratively closed.” Occasionally, information received later triggers the re-opening of such cases.

In most cases, the alleged perpetrator is not notified of claims until there is sufficient evidence to initiate a formal investigation. Exceptions do arise if an “articulatable risk” is determined. In such cases, temporary measures can be implemented, but those are rare.

“Most people don’t know what’s going on with the thousands of cases we are working on,” he said. “The process is designed to be confidential. We don’t want the kind of world where, in order to have these circumstances addressed, you have to be suddenly out in the open. That said, we can’t go forward until the people alleged of violations are informed of the investigation and given a chance to respond. You’ll receive notice when we are to a point that you need to know what you’ve been accused of.”

Informing the respondents before this point would jeopardize the credibility of their answers, Henry said. The process prevents their response being influenced “by knowing the narrative in advance.”

Henry stressed that the SafeSport team is acutely aware the impact of allegations on the recipient’s life, family, career, reputations, etc., and that temporary restrictions are only made when it is determined others might be at risk. “That was precisely the issue with Larry Nassar,” Henry said, referring to the former U.S. Gymnastics team doctor who was convicted as a serial child molester. “Are you exposing others to risk by not telling anyone?”

“Most people do not want to come to terms with this stuff happening more often than most people think,” Henry continued. “Every week, we get some allegation of child sexual abuse, sometimes multiple allegations.”

Quantity & Outcome of Cases: SafeSport receives about 230 reports a month. Since its creation in 2017, it has dealt with approximately 4,600 reports that manifested in 4,000 cases. Of those, 2,800 have been investigated and resolved. Eight hundred of those were determined to involve violations of the SafeSport code and led to sanctions. Sanctions ranged from formal warnings to permanent ineligibility to participate in their sport or another sport within the Olympic movement. This latter, most severe category is often defined on the SafeSport website as “sexual conduct with minors.” That indicates, Henry said, egregious forms of abuse that are not detailed in order to protect victims’ privacy. “Respondents” are told the names of their accusers during the formal investigation, but victims’ names are not made public by SafeSport at any time. Claimants sometimes make allegations known to the public of their own accord.

All SafeSport decisions are open to arbitration from an “independent, neutral” arbitrator, and SafeSport can help with costs for those who can’t afford the process. Of the 800 decisions, “less than 1 percent” have been overturned by arbitration, Henry stated. The Center also has an ombudsman available to help all parties understand and navigate the investigation process.

Reports are currently investigated by a fulltime staff of 20, each of whom handles approximately 20 cases. An increase to a 40-person staff is expected by the end of this year.

False Allegations: During a Q&A session, Henry acknowledged widespread fears of false allegations. He confirmed that, if the testimony of a claimant or witness could be proven false,  SafeSport treats those as a sanctionable offense, triggering an independent case.  He acknowledged the reality that any claim that becomes public has the effect of a guilty verdict, even if the respondent is deemed innocent. Henry reiterated that this risk is carefully weighed against the risk of further harm and of not holding the guilty accountable for their actions.

Old Cases: An attendee asked about cases involving older people for abuses that occurred long ago, and those in which there was no evidence of the person being a current risk. Henry acknowledged that those were more difficult cases to investigate. The reality that victims of any time are typically not thinking of how to explain the events as they occur is worse in older cases.

“In allegations from years prior, we look at are there still actual risks, or are there enough mitigating factors?” As for evidence, he noted, “Even with allegations that are decades old, we still often have some physical or documentary evidence.” Microfiche documents showing both parties being in the same place many years ago are one example of possible corroborating evidence.

The bottom line is, “We always hold ourselves to the evidence,” he stated. When cases are mostly based on testimonies, “we have to weigh it very carefully.” That process is made harder when people chose not to participate in the investigation process.

Learn More
U.S. Center for SafeSport: www.uscenterforsafesport.org
Athletes for Equity In Sport: www.athletesforequity.org
United Athletes Alliance: www.unitedathletesalliance.org

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 .

 
January 2020 - Happy National Day Of The Horse in Huntington Beach
Written by photos by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 01 January 2020 00:03
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photos by Kim F. Miller

Various programs based at the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center welcomed community members to enjoy National Day Of The Horse on Saturday, Dec. 14. Staged at the multi-faceted public boarding and training facility in Huntington Beach, the day included jumping and therapeutic riding demos, vaulting, parades of breeds and opportunities to meet, pose and interact with horses. A concurrent holiday boutique raised funds for the Free Rein Horses Helping Humans program. Its mission is “to heal humans and rescued horses by creating a bond that empowers and nurtures both.” Visit www.freereinfoundation.org for more information.

 


 

Free Rein Foundation’s Justine Makoff, left, and Tracy Burroughs.

Michele & Frisco make friends.

Patient Reindeer.

Making friends.

Marcia Salans & Lance.

Cowboy on the run.

Santa & friend.

Free Rein’s Kissing Booth offered hugs and kisses from favorite program steeds.

Parade of Breeds.

Windsong Farm trainer Tracy Burroughs and Grand Prix rider Michelle Kerivan during their jumping demo.

Therapeutic Riding Center of HB star

 
January 2020 - Winning Ways
Written by photos: USEA/Leslie Mintz
Tuesday, 31 December 2019 21:49
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West Coasters are stars at USEA Awards Banquet in Boston.

photos: USEA/Leslie Mintz

Every year the eventing community comes together to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of its members at the United States Eventing Association Annual Meeting & Convention Year End Awards Ceremony. The gathering was held in Boston in mid-December.

 


Led by Master of Ceremonies Jim Wofford, the awards ceremony is one of the most anticipated events of the Convention and gives eventers the opportunity to celebrate their successes with their family and friends. The West Coast was well-represented in various awards categories, plus several received generous grants to put toward their competitive goals.

Dr. Jennifer Miller

Whitney Tucker-Billeter, right.

The evening’s presentation began with the USEA Classic Series drawing sponsored by DG Stackhouse and Ellis Saddles. USEA President Max Corcoran and Lesley Ellis presented the prize to the winner of the drawing, Dr. Jennifer Miller (Cave Creek, Arizona). Miller was awarded a custom fitted Stackhouse and Ellis saddle.

As the title sponsor of the USEA Classic Series, Hylofit generously provided Hylofit heart rate monitor systems to the lowest-scoring winners from each of the USEA Classic Series events. Whitney Tucker-Billeter of Temecula and Anna Hallberg of San Diego and Eileen Morgenthaler of Portola Valley were West Coast recipients.

 

Tamie Smith & Mia Farley

Meg Pellegrini

Tamra Smith, a RevitaVet sponsored rider, presented the Linda Moore Trophy to the 2019 RevitaVet USEA Young Rider of the Year Mia Farley (San Juan Capistrano). Farley received a check for $1,000 and a RevitaVet system.

The 2019 SmartPak USEA Stallion of the Year, presented with The Windfall Trophy, $1,000, and an embroidered show cooler provided by SmartPak, was Cassio’s Picasso (E.H. Hirtentanz x Cassio Pia), a 7-year-old Trakehner stallion owned by The Picasso Syndicate and ridden by James Alliston.

Broussard family

The Theodore O’Connor Trophy, $1,000, and an embroidered show cooler was awarded to the 2019 SmartPak USEA Pony of the Year, Ganymede (Ballywhim An Luan x Court Hawk), a 16-year-old Connemara mare owned and ridden by Meg Pellegrini.

Carol Kozlowski presented the USEA President’s Lifetime Achievement Award to The Broussard Family (Kalispell, Montana).

Former USEA President Diane Pitts presented the USEA Foundation Grants. The $10,000 Essex Grant was awarded to Mia Farley.

Sara Mittleider

The Wilton Fair Grant is donated by David and Cheryl Lenaburg with the goal of supporting U.S. developing riders. The Fund allows up to $100,000 in grants to be given each year for a variety of educational opportunities for riders 29 and under who have not yet ridden for a senior team. Two Wilton Fair Grants were presented this year. Two grants were presented and Californian Charlotte Babbitt of South Lake Tahoe was one of the recipients.

The Mike Huber Award was presented by Diane Pitts to Derek and Bea di Grazia.

Andrea Baxter

Sarah and Rebecca Broussard and Lou Leslie presented Sara Mittleider (Kuna, Idaho) with the $10,000 Rebecca Broussard National Developing Rider Grant and Andrea Baxter (Paso Robles, California) with the $50,000 Rebecca Broussard International Developing Rider Grant.

Article excerpted from USEA press release.

 
May 2020 - Sunsprite Ranch Expansion
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 29 April 2020 05:12
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Two new stallions reflect sporthorse breeding program’s embrace of “do it now!” philosophy.

Over morning coffee at Sunsprite Ranch, Pamela Duffy sometimes takes some time to reflect on her life and present circumstances. In the midst of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, solitude has become a given, and has brought a complicated mix of thoughts, plans and projects to the table.  

For Pam, losing her mother in October 2018 and her husband, Don Trotter, in June of 2019 have been turning points that have forced her to reconsider some of her options.  

 


The original plan was, Pam states, to bring down the workload at her Temecula ranch and spend more time in leisurely pursuits such as traveling to places far and exotic. Don had travelled extensively for his job at the United Nations, but they definitely had a shared travel bucket list. Unbeknownst to most riders in USEA’s Area VI and beyond, he was starting to limit his volunteer stewarding calendar in order to spend more time in non-equine activities.  

 

One of the directions in which the Sunsprite breeding program was headed was to bring it to a close, although gradually. “I have spent too much time, passion and effort planning hypothetical matings, staying up nights with mares due to foal, and maintaining the fencing and flooring and the like to just walk away from a dream that was pushing and pulling persistently in my head, soul and heart for years and years,” Pam explains.  

Infinity, one of Sunsprite Ranch’s two new stallions.

In March 2019, Pam and Don went to Germany together. It was a great trip, as well as a wonderful opportunity to talk about the future. Berlin was the stop that brought art, architecture and some real luxury to the lives of the couple. It also made Pam painfully aware of Don’s stubborn cough and lack of stamina.

Then, in April, Don underwent many diagnostic tests and was found to have cancer in multiple organs.

With this recognition, there was time to discuss what the Sunsprite dream entailed and how best to bring the basic plans into fruition. There was also time for reminiscing and humor and a hard stare at the realities of imminent death. “Not sufficient time” says Pam. “I think we made the most of it though.”  

Donald Trotter’s legacy in both the warm-up arena and volunteerism will live on and he was so proud, also, of the Sunsprite program. He rarely got to see the horses compete, but certainly enjoyed following their careers. His trademark smile, words of encouragement for the riders, and thumbs-up gesture “gave the riders wings” as Pam describes it.
     

Sara Sellmer. Photo: MGO Photography

New Paradigm

Pam’s new life-stage has actually embraced a new paradigm of expansion, probably due to the fact that she is, in her own words, “a hopeless contrarian” when it comes to planning. Pam holds the following quote close to her heart: “Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage.” The author is Anaïs Nin.

“I started to think about life in terms of enjoyment and risk and opportunities.       

I also saw that nothing in life is guaranteed and that if you are lucky enough to think in bold lettering, so to speak, you owe it to yourself to do so,” says Pam. “I also started to tap into a carpe diem or “Do It Now” mentality.”        

With that in mind Sunsprite recently purchased two stallions that will represent the company in the breeding shed.

In 2019, Pam purchased a second facility, which goes by the name of Donegal Farm, in honor of the Irish county in which the Duffy family, for generations, was born and raised. Donegal Farm is far better suited to having a stallion in residence and is also very well appointed for training young horses.
   

Don de Marco. Photo: MGO Photography

Don de Marco. Photo: MGO Photography

Don de Marco

Until now, Sunsprite’s foundation has been mares from Pam’s favorite bloodlines, paired with outside stallions ranging from the familiar and proven to the lesser-known up-and-comers. Pam still has a beginner’s giddiness and a willingness to fiddle with her own breeding formulas going forward, so Don de Marco, by Donnerwetter, has been purchased, transported from his former home in Florida, and started back under saddle.

His bloodlines stem from a very successful mare line, including the genetic jewel Chinchilla, allowing proven old but very valuable bloodlines to shine through.  
Chinchilla was born in 1977 and her conformation and overall quality allowed her to bring home numerous regional and national titles in Germany in the early and mid-1980s.   

“Don de Marco is very modern in body type and his offspring have excellent records, winning in a variety of disciplines, including hunters, dressage, jumpers and also eventing,” Pam says. Through Donnerwetter, he is a paternal half-brother to the famous dressage sire and former world-ranked competitor, Donnerhall.  

Don de Marco is 14 years old and boasts a very correct foundation, Pam continues. His unique temperament appeals to riders who want to be partners with their horse rather than a passenger.  Don de Marco does have set opinions, Pam adds.  “He has his own intelligence and code of ethics.” That strong sense of himself more than fills his 16.1 frame.  In Pam’s words, “He’s a gem in a small package.”

Infinity. Photo: Jutta Bauernschmitt

Infinity.

Infinity

Infinity, Sunsprite’s second stallion, is much younger. He was born in 2017 and like his future stablemate, Don de Marco, brings traditional bloodlines to the table.  

Pam purchased Infinity at the November Trakehner stallion show in Neumunster, Germany.  There were many young quality stallions looking to be approved, if the breeding committee had found their characteristics laudable enough. However, in the end, the percentage of stallions that were given the approval vote was low. Infinity was among them. Pam shared that the “hook” that caught her attention in regard to the stallion was the connection to Infinity’s grand sire.

Pam’s interest in this sire (Amiego) had to do primarily with the fact that he was the sire of one of Pam’s foundation broodmares, Donamia. In 1987, at the Pan American Games, Amiego represented Bermuda,  where he won the individual bronze medal, ridden by Peter Gray, in Combined Training/Three Day Eventing.

Amiego shares the same dam, the incomparable Abiza, with Abdullah, who represented the United States with his rider Conrad Homfeld and won a team gold and individual silver in show jumping at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. On Infinity’s dam side, he carries the exceptional sire Buddenbrock, an elite stallion with many successful get in the dressage world.

During the grading process whereby the young stallion “prospects” are shown to the public, the candidates are presented numerous times so that they can be evaluated. “Most of the horses were reactive and impressionable.  Infinity, himself showed a presence beyond his young years, strolled out calmly and obediently, like he had been doing this all his life,” Pam explains.  “He was kind of unflappable, and the more I saw him, the more I loved him. He is balanced when he moves, elegant and compact. I really do have high expectations for this guy.”  

Infinity will stay in Germany for another year at least, but there are plans for collecting him and freezing semen for the American public, likely to be available in 2021.  

Photo: Pamela Duffy

Exciting Times

“These are exciting times at Sunsprite!” Pam states. “Another fortunate event has been the presence of my dear friend from Canada, Sara Sellmer, who is hanging out and playing at Sunsprite. Sara originally came to the U.S. to compete in eventing through the winter and spring.  Fortunately, she is enjoying the weather and the horses and I am thrilled for her to be part of the Sunsprite family. Hopefully when we all get back to competing, you will be seeing her on several Sunsprites.  

“In the meantime, we’re having fun starting some young horses and it’s great to watch her. She is a phenomenal rider and also a phenomenal person.”    

Sara sees many common positives in the Sunsprites she’s riding.“Intelligence, athleticism and sensitivity are common traits. They are all very correct in their movement.

Rebecca Braitling on Kirschblute 3. Photo: MGO Photography

“The related traits of balanced canters and big walks are of special appeal,” Sara continues. “A balanced canter translates to a natural ability to adjust the stride. That makes it easier for the horse and safer for us as riders. It’s a big advantage when you are galloping down to a big solid fence. Cat-like is the phrase I keep going back to,” she reflects. “They are soft and light over the ground and really agile.”

Being a part of the horse industry has never been for the faint of heart. Pam believes that staying true to one’s goals and committing to the journey, one step, one jump, one competition at a time, is the ultimate celebration of living life.

“Stay healthy, stay strong and don’t forget to add sprinkles of joy and amusement to the mix.”

For more information, visit Sunsprite Warmbloods on Facebook.

 
April 2020 - The Gallop: Pandemic Perspectives
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 01 April 2020 00:58
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gallop

Every nook and cranny of the equestrian world impacted by coronavirus.

by Kim F. Miller

“March Madness” took a devastating form last month as the coronavirus spread to the point of being declared a global pandemic. That happened on March 11, accelerating a wave of severe disruption in all facets of life, including the equestrian world.

In the early days, competitions first attempted to continue with their shows, but with alterations to reduce concentrations of people and adding safety protocols. Within days, sometimes overnight, organizers shifted to either postpone or cancel their events.  

 


On March 13, the United States Equestrian Federation announced that all its owned events were suspended for 30 days, and asked organizers to do the same. News that the World Cup Finals were cancelled came the same day, followed by the same status for the The Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event. Sunday, March 24, the International Olympic Committee announced it would make a decision regarding this summer’s Olympics within four weeks. Canada announced its athletes would not compete if the Games are held this year, and there was strong speculation that the Olympics would be postponed to 2021.

 

On March 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered residents to stay home, with the exception of those engaged in businesses deemed essential. Although horseback riding was listed in many descriptions of safe outdoor activities, the businesses that enable most people to ride were not deemed essential. Many stable owners had already told boarders to stay home and entrust the care of their horses to a skeleton crew of staff.

While human health is the priority in all these decisions, the economic impact is already drastic. The necessary cancellation of shows has a ripple effect that is hard to quantify: judges, course designers, grooms, photographers, announcers, award organizers, food preparers and office staff barely scratch the surface of people who are now suddenly without income.

The California Professional Horsemen’s Association launched a GoFundMe.com page to help these kind of show workers. As of March 24, it has raised $3,655 toward a $15,000 goal. The West Coast equestrian world is a generous lot, but with almost everybody’s livelihood affected, it’s an especially tough time because the impacts are just beginning.  

To get a little more understanding of how this is impacting different people and horses in the West, California Riding Magazine Kim F Miller checked in with three people: Stanford Equestrian Coach & Red Barn Executive Director Vanessa Bartsch; veterinarian Phoebe A Smith; and Lisa Sabo, owner of Sabo Eventing and the Newport Mesa Riding School.

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 .

Vanessa Bartsch: On the Front Lines

Vanessa is the Stanford Equestrian Team coach and Executive Director of Stanford’s Red Barn Equestrian Center, which is home to Stanford’s 30 horses and the base for private training businesses run by Willow Tree Farms, Northern Run, Nicole Prows Dressage and RW Dressage. Its location in Northern California’s Santa Clara County put in on the front lines of efforts to prevent coronavirus spread in the U.S. The University was the first campus to close to most students and its Medical Center was among the first to offer tests to the community.

Kim: What were the earliest preventative steps taken at Stanford and its Red Barn?
Vanessa: Stanford was at the front edge of this. We have amazing resources through the school, its hospital, its health and safety officers, etc., so we adapted faster than others because we knew it was coming.
That led us to look at our operation of how we run the barn and what are our priorities. We determined that our #1 priority is protecting a core group of personnel who know every one of the horses on our property better than even their owners because they are in and out of their stalls every day. So, our priority was to ensure they were healthy and at the least risk of exposure as possible because they are paramount to making sure horses stay healthy.

Kim: How are the horse care logistics working out?
Vanessa: We determined a one person per six to eight horses plan. For Willow Tree’s horses, for example, that meant their grooming staff and (trainer) Guy Thomas going in alone. Each program was given a 2-3 hour window every day so we could limit who is sharing space at the barn at any given time. It helps that each program is in its own barn, so it’s easier to separate people.
For the team horses, I have my two assistants each working a half day, with one to two volunteers that are current or former student athletes. They scrub in and scrub out, wear rubber gloves and are disinfecting doorknobs, brushes, etc.
It’s been tricky with our team horses. Their average age is 13 to 14 and, while they don’t need to be kept competition fit, it can be hard for teenage horses to be taken completely off work then put back on. In normal circumstances, the horses work three weeks, then have a week off during which they get extra turn-out time and time on the walker, so we are incorporating that the best we can. It would help if it stopped raining--not that I want there to be a drought either!
We have fast-tracked retirement plans for a few of our older horses thanks to alumni and friends who can provide them a nice forever home.  

Kim: I saw in the early days that you had oodles of volunteers offering to help, but clearly you could only have a few people coming to the barn. How did you decide who to call?
Vanessa: I’ve known through my time at Stanford that there is a huge and loving community supporting us. I’d say we had between 50 and 70 alumni saying “What can I do? How can I get in there and help?” That’s the silver lining: seeing the amount of support, which has also been there for us during fires and other worst times.
Understanding how community health works, we made the decision early on that we needed to take the aid of super helpers. People who could pull a four- or eight-hour shift, versus an hour here or there. Some are phenomenal riders, and some are phenomenal on the ground: they are fast and efficient and can prep the horses so our coaches can ride them all. They are great with turning horses out, getting the laundry done, and other things so that my riders can get out and exercise as many as possible.
    
Kim: What’s been the toughest part of this very tough situation?
Vanessa: Stanford people love having a plan, an orderly plan. I have so many emergency plans, including phone trees. The most difficult part was the landscape was changing so rapidly. Every day there was a new edict that we had to adapt to. Every day, we thought we had things handled safely and then, 24 hours later, there was a new hurdle. As the first university to close, it was very stressful for the first week, and then getting to a plan that could stick for a day or two. Now (as of March 19), we are on shelter-in-place, and things have stayed the same for a while.
I’ve been communicating with our boarders as much as possible, conveying the importance of protecting our staff’s health. Every individual wants to see their horse and have a place to come to that is not stressful, and I want to give that to them. But horse people understand the sacrifice each individual makes is for the greater good.  
The second part of what’s been most difficult is outside of barn management: it’s being there for my student athletes. I had 16 seniors this year, which is large for a 42-member team. It’s one of my best teams in terms of being caring, loving and well-bonded men and women. Their entire plan for their school year, and as athletes, is now cut short over something none of us could have foreseen.
We had a team meeting Tuesday night and it was very sweet to look at 38 members on our Zoom (Video Conferencing) meeting, trying to continue some sense our community. We are featuring a senior every day on our Stanford Equestrian Team Instagram account.
And, we are working with the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, asking what does this mean for kids who have qualified for the post-season, and for whom this was their athletic pinnacle, and it’s now cut short for absolutely necessary reasons.
Above all, I want to be there for each of my riders. It’s scary for you and me, and I can’t imagine how it is for 18 to 22-year-olds. It’s a lot to absorb.
    
Kim: Any lessons emerging from what you’ve seen and been through so far?
Vanessa: The importance of preparedness in running a barn. We talk a lot about worst case scenarios, and it can sometimes feel so pessimistic. Fires and earthquakes are all things we hate to think about and this mass pandemic is something out of a science fiction movie. So, the lesson of all this is probably to have way more contingency plans than you ever thought you needed and be ready to be adaptable.  

Kim: Final thoughts?
Vanessa: It hit here first and Stanford had the ability to test before anyone else. Along with Johns Hopkins University, I think we have a bead on this. I think what we are seeing is the tip of the spear. I was just on a conference call with other coaches around the country: there are several parts of the country that don’t yet have any restrictions. It’s crazy. I hope we are doing things right.

 

Veterinarian’s Perspective: Phoebe A Smith, DVM, of Riviera Equine Internal Medicine & Consulting in the Santa Ynez Valley

Kim: What does this look like from your perspective as an equine veterinarian?
Dr. Smith: As large animal vets, it falls into the context of herd immunity, in which we try to protect the vulnerable by minimizing the disease in the herd. So, conceptually, this is all very familiar. It’s what we do with horses when there is a contagious disease on a farm or showground. We lock down, nobody in, nobody out.  Much of the regular public has not had to think like this in recent history.

Kim: Is there a risk of transmission between horses and infected people?
Dr. Smith: Multiple species have different forms of coronavirus. But the one that causes the current disease, SARS-CoV-2, is new, so there is not a lot known about it in human medicine yet. At this point, there is no evidence that horses are part of the transmission process in any direct way. You could make a crazy link through a “fomite,” an inanimate object capable of transmitting an infectious organism. For example, say an infected person sneezed on your horse’s coat, and somebody else put their hand in that same spot, then touched their face and became infected.
As to whether horses can get it, we don’t believe so. There is rapid work being done trying to figure out what the virus does and who it can affect. I am getting that question frequently from clients, but there are no reported incidences of horses getting the SARS-CoV 2 virus.

Kim: How concerned are your clients about COVID-19 and their horses?
Dr. Smith: Completely coincidentally, there are some cases of equine coronavirus in our region currently. The equine coronavirus is a gastrointestinal-borne condition which presents as GI disturbance, colic, diarrhea, fever, or any combination of these clinical signs. This is caused by equine coronavirus, which is well-typed and something that we are familiar with. In most cases, we are able to treat equine coronavirus at the farm with supportive care.  Less commonly, intensive care may be required for more severely affected cases.
Most horses recover from equine coronavirus within days of falling ill. The virus can be transmitted in manure, so the treatment should include isolation.
So, the biggest concern is when I have to tell a client that their horse has coronavirus. I immediately say, ‘But wait...it’s not that coronavirus!” Again, this current regional incidence of equine coronavirus is completely coincidental with COVID-19, but it is causing some confusion.
    
Kim: Are there helpful take-aways for horse owners and care providers?
Dr. Smith: Yes, the principles of how respiratory viruses are spread are valuable lessons for animal health as well as human health. There is a lot of talk about how COVID-19 is spread through respiratory secretions -- coughing or sneezing. The virus also spreads through fomites, when those secretions get onto something that another touches. Think about how many things a horse touches with its nose to ask “Hey, what’s that?”
Because everyone has had to think about this form of transmission in such a detailed fashion, it could improve awareness of how contagions travel and that should improve a farm’s ability to control disease spread in the future.

Kim: Any general advice to horse owners regarding COVID-19?
Dr. Smith: We all want to spend time with our horses and you should continue to unless you are sick with the coronavirus or have symptoms that indicate you might be infected. And this is only because your horse could accidentally become a fomite if you coughed or sneezed on his blanket, or somewhere else, that another person might touch. They are just now working out how long the virus survives on different surface types.
(The National Institutes of Health announced on March 17 these finding regarding the virus’ stability on various surfaces: in aerosols for 3 hours; on copper, up to 4 hours; on cardboard, up to 24 hours; and up to two and three days on plastic and stainless steel.)
    
Kim: What about advice for those who can’t get to their horse because of self-imposed or mandatory “shelter in place” restrictions.
Dr. Smith: I think everyone understands that horses still need to get out and get exercise and are working with barn managers to find efficient ways to do that. I hate to see horses standing around all day in their stalls. Activity is important to keeping horses healthy, which will minimize the number of vet visits and minimize the general downstream effects of all of this.

Kim: Any suggestions for those who can safely spend time with their horses, and have extra time because of show cancellations or postponements?
Dr. Smith: It’s the same concept as what we are working on for ourselves and our families: what do we want to work on that we don’t normally have time for? Maybe it’s ground manners or getting over that fear of needles.
Some of my clients are using this break to give their horses extra rest. And some of my upper level rider clients are having to re-think how they are conditioning and preparing their horses, especially those with Olympic plans and hopes. I think we will see there is a lot of coordination in finding ways to allow them to continue preparation without risking anybody’s health.

Kim: Final thoughts?
Dr. Smith: It will be interesting to see how this shapes our future. On the horse and horse owner side, I think there will be truly lasting benefits in people having more familiarity with disease control and response to disease outbreaks.

 

Lisa Sabo: Owner, with her husband Brian Sabo, of Sabo Eventing and Newport Mesa Riding Center and Newport Mesa Pony Club, based at the Orange County Fairgrounds Equestrian Center, in Costa Mesa
 
Kim: As of March 19, what was the status of your business activities?
Lisa: We initially got a letter from the Fairgrounds that all activities need to halt. But we explained that the horses still need care and exercise. So, our owners, trainers and grooms are allowed to be at the barn caring for the animals.
We are not having any gatherings or group lessons, so the school horse program is totally shut down. We are washing our hands like crazy and keeping a 10’ distance from each other. I have always been the one constantly telling people to use their own brushes because you don’t want to spread anything between horses. And, now I’m doing it to prevent the spread of anything between humans.

Kim: Who’s keeping your lesson horses exercised?
Lisa: We have 12 lessons ponies. I have six instructors, two of whom are full-time, and they are exercising the school ponies. We are also putting them on the walker, which I hate to do, but we’ve had to go down to a skeleton crew.

Kim: This is impacting every business, but I’m thinking lessons program are taking an especially hard hit.
Lisa: Each lesson horse costs about $1,000 a month. Every month, if my black meets my red, I’m happy. I consider my school program as here to provide access for people coming up into the sport and some of them develop into training clients. I feel like school horse programs are necessary to attract people to our sport and to share our love of horses. I’m proud that I do it, but times like this are really devastating. It’s worrisome.

Kim: How are your training clients holding up?
Lisa: This is impacting everyone. My client families include airline pilots, travel agents, doctors, dentists, etc. Everybody is affected. I’m worried for everybody and for our industry. Horses, after all, are a luxury.

Kim: Any problems with compliance with the safely guidelines?
Lisa: We all have to follow the government guidelines. Even though it might be tempting to haul away for a cross-country school somewhere, the President and the Governor have told us to stay put and not travel. If I needed to haul a horse for a health emergency, I would do it, but not for anything else. Travel involves stopping at gas stations, using their restrooms, etc... Because we can be carriers and not even know it, I consider it my personal responsibility to stay put.
Sometimes I think we horse people are a little out of balance. I think some people feel exempt from the safety guidelines. If this were a horse disease, people would understand the horse needing to be isolated and taking all these steps to stop the spread. If anyone has any doubts about the importance of compliance still, they should just think about what they would want done if this was happening with their horses.

Kim: You are one of the most positive people I know. Is there a bright side?
Lisa: It’s a good time to give the competition horses a little let down. With our area’s show schedule, June is normally a slower month. But with the events being cancelled or postponed, that slow month is now March and April.
It’s also a good time to study horsemanship. Every Saturday is horsemanship class at our Riding Center. I just sent out an email with an online horsemanship class, with a bunch of attachments to study. Hopefully, we can keep people involved that way.
Of course, I am hoping this is only for a few weeks. We all have to suffer the consequences. As a whole, we need to dig in and get through this.

 
April 2020 - Foal Growth
Written by courtesy of America’s Horse Daily
Wednesday, 01 April 2020 00:43
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Special care and nutrition are required for young horses.

courtesy of America’s Horse Daily

A healthy foal will grow rapidly, gaining in height, weight and strength almost before your very eyes. From birth to age 2, a young horse can achieve 90 percent of more of its full adult size, sometimes putting on as many as three pounds per day.

Genetics, management and environment play significant roles in determining individual growth patterns. Through research, we also know we can influence a foal’s growth and development – for better or worse – by the nutrition we supply.


Strive for Balance

 

Feeding young horses is a careful balancing act. The interplay between genetics, management and environment and nutrition is complex. While we can do nothing to affect the genetics of an individual, we can affect how those genetics are ultimately expressed.

The nutritional start a foal gets can have a profound effect on its health and soundness for the rest of its life. We can accelerate growth if we choose. However, research suggests that a balanced dietary approach, which supports no more than a moderate growth rate, is less likely to cause developmental problems.

Some conditions that have been associated with rapid growth rates include:
•    Contracted tendons
•    Epiphysitis
•    Angular limb deformities
•    Osteochondrosis

The Foal’s Changing Diet

As early as 10-14 days of age, a foal may begin to show an interest in feed. By nibbling and sampling, the youngster learns to eat solid food. Its digestive system quickly adapts to the dietary changes. It is now recognized that coprophagy (eating of feces) is normal in the form and may lead to foal heat diarrhea as the intestinal microflora changes. This diarrhea was previously thought to result from hormonal changes in the milk but has been observed to occur with orphaned foals that have no exposure to maternal hormones.

At 8-10 weeks of age, mare’s milk alone may not adequately meet the foal’s nutritional needs, depending on the desired growth rate an owner wants for a foal. In order to achieve a more rapid rate of gain, high-quality grains and forage should be added to the foal’s diet.

It is essential the ration be properly balanced for vitamins and minerals. Deficits, excesses or imbalances of calcium, phosphorous, copper, zinc, selenium and vitamin E are of particular concern in the growing foal. Improper amounts or ratios can lead to skeletal problems.

Foal Feeding Guidelines

As the foal’s dietary requirements shift from milk to feed and forage, your role in providing the proper nutrition gains in importance. Here are some guidelines to help you meet the young horse’s needs:
1.    Provide high-quality roughage (hay and pasture) free choice.
2.    Supplement with a high-quality, properly-balanced grain concentrate at weaning, or earlier if more rapid rates of gain are desired.
3.    Start by feeding 1 percent of a foal’s body weight per day (i.e. 1 pound of feed for each 100 pounds of body weight) or one pound of feed per month of age.
4.    Weigh and adjust the feed ration based on growth and fitness. A weight tape can help you approximate a foal’s size.
5.    Foals have small stomachs, so divide the daily ration into two to three feedings.
6.    Make sure feeds contain the proper balance of vitamins, minerals, energy and protein.
7.    Use a creep feeder or feed the foal separately from the mare so it can eat its own ration. Try to avoid group creep-feeding situations.
8.    Remove uneaten portions between feedings.
9.    Do not overfeed. Overweight foals are more prone to developmental orthopedic disease (DOD).
10.    Provide unlimited fresh, clean water.
11.    Provide opportunity for abundant exercise.

Weaning

Foals are commonly weaned at 4-6 months of age. Beginning about the third month, the mare’s milk supply gradually declines and a natural weaning process begins.

To prepare the foal for complete weaning, its ration should be increased over a two- to three-week period to make up for the nutrients being lost in the diminishing milk supply. The mare’s grain should be reduced and/or gradually eliminated to further limit milk production.

Once the foal is no longer nursing, a 500- to 600-pound weanling should be eating between 2-3 percent of its body weight in feed and forage a day.

Sustaining Growth

Weanlings and yearlings continue to build bone and muscle mass at a remarkable rate. From weaning to 2 years of age, the horse may nearly double its weight gain.

Weanlings and yearlings benefit from a diet containing 14-16 percent protein. They also require readily available sources of energy to meet the demands of growth and activity. The percent of concentrates or roughage a diet may contain depends on the desired growth rate. However, the diet should never contain less that 30 percent as roughage – measured by weight.

A good rule of thumb is to provide 60-70 percent of the ration as concentrates and 30-40 percent of the ration as roughage – measured by weight. The diet must also provide ample fiber to keep the digestive tract functioning properly. Some of the new complete feeds have the ration already balanced.

Weight-gain and development taper off as the horse matures. As growth slows, you will need to adjust the ration to approximately 1.5-2 percent of the yearling’s body weight. The grain-to-roughage ration should also be adjusted so that by the time the horse is a 2-year-old, half of its daily diet (by weight) is coming from grain sources and the other half from hay and pasture. Breed type, maturity, desired growth rate and condition, and level of activity will affect the horse’s exact nutritional requirements.

Total Care and Management

Work with your equine practitioner to develop a total health care plan for your foals, weanlings and yearlings. A regular deworming, vaccination and examination schedule is essential to ensure that your foal is getting the care it needs.
Remember, vaccination and deworming regimens may vary depending on regional factors and disease risks. Consult your equine practitioner for exact recommendations.

Here are some other management tips:

•    Unless there is a medical concern, provide youngsters free-choice exercise daily. The less time foals are confined to stalls, the better. Avoid confining foals for more than 10 hours per day.
•    Use longeing, round pen or treadmill work judiciously. Excessive forced exercise can strain joints and limbs.
•    Never exercise a foal to the point of fatigue. If you observe a foal’s limbs to be shaking or weak, or if the mare cannot keep up with the adult horses in a herd, the mare and foal need to be confined until the foal is rested.
•    Keep your youngster’s feet properly trimmed to foster proper bone development.
•    Provide a clean, safe environment with adequate shelter from the elements.
•    Check the horse’s surroundings and eliminate any potential hazards, such as loose boards, nails, wire fencing or equipment.

The reward for providing excellent nutrition, conscientious care and a safe environment will be a healthy foal that grows into a sound and useful horse.

 
April 2020 - Farewell to a Champion
Written by by Esther Hahn
Tuesday, 31 March 2020 23:34
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Remembering Mark Watring’s gold medal partner, Sapphire.

by Esther Hahn

When Puerto Rican show jumper Mark Watring arrived at the 2002 Central American Games in El Salvador with his then 10-year-old mount, Sapphire, the joke that circulated around the competition was that Puerto Rico had sent a pony.

Although Sapphire stood at a respectable 16 hands, the stall in which he was stabled had a divot in the ground so the gray, Holsteiner gelding (Liostro x Roman) could barely hold his head over the door.

“Of course, we were all offended when we heard what people were saying,” Mark remembered, smilingly. “Our grooms would respond, ‘Wait until you see the pony jump!’”
Once the Games were underway, the first day of equestrian competition was a speed class that was also a medaling class, and Mark and Sapphire won. They went on to win the overall individual gold medal, as well. By the Games’ end, the Puerto Rican contingent had composed a little theme song for their winning, little pony, and Mark and Sapphire returned home with double-gold honors from their first international competition together.


At First Sight

 

Mark, based in the Los Angeles area’s Hidden Valley, first laid eyes on Sapphire in 1998, while visiting Puerto Rican colleague, Edgar Pagan, at his Southern California stables.

“Edgar had got in about 10 horses from Europe, and he asked me to come and try them,” said Mark. “I went, and while I was there, I saw this dappled gray horse waiting to get shod. I asked Edgar, ‘What horse is that? Is that one of yours?’ He said, ‘Yes, but he came without two shoes, and while he was in Europe, he kept getting bumped from his flight so he hasn’t been ridden in a month.’”

These details didn’t discourage Mark from riding the 6-year-old prospect. And as soon as the horse had all four shoes on, Mark talked Edgar into giving him the honor of the horse’s first ride on U.S. soil. After just a few jumps, Mark knew he found his next star, bringing Sapphire home that very same day to own in partnership with Dr. and Mrs. John Bohannon.

“I think it was his eye that caught my attention,” Mark explained about his instant connection to the horse. “He was so beautiful. I loved his look and his conformation. From the moment I saw him, I thought that he was stunning.”

All Things Gold

In a couple years’ time, Mark and Sapphire began their winning record at the Grand Prix level. Soon followed the double-gold international debut in 2002 and individual gold at the 2003 Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic.

At the Pan American Games, Mark and Sapphire sat in fourth place following the first speed round before moving into the lead after the two rounds of Nations Cup competition. Mark competed as an individual as Puerto Rico did not send a team.

“There was a press conference following the team rounds,” Mark described. “I arrived early and there were chairs around a table so I just sat in the middle. And when the teams came in, I was asked to move so that the U.S. team that won team gold could have the center chairs. After questions with the teams, the press turned its attention toward me and asked what I expected to see after the individual rounds on the final day. I replied, ‘I’ll be sitting back in the middle [of the table].’”

Mark’s prediction proved true when he and Sapphire did in fact secure individual gold, earning not only a middle seat at the table but also a slot at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.

For the next four years that followed, Mark and Sapphire continued to dominate at the 1.60-meter level throughout the West Coast and at Spruce Meadows in Alberta, Canada. In 2006, the pair repeated their double individual gold performance at the Central American Games in Colombia.

Parallel to Mark’s journey with Sapphire was the growing family that Mark and his wife Jenny began amid the successful riding career. Sons Sterling and Stone joined in 2000 and 2003, respectively, growing up alongside the world travel and international acclaim.

“I’m so appreciative of how much of the world I’ve been able to see, from such a young age, thanks to Dad and Sapphire,” said Sterling. “I’m forever grateful.”

A Legacy In Progress

“I retired Sapphire as a 1.60-meter horse, not realizing he had another 10 years in him,” Mark revealed. “I retired him when he was 16, and I think he had a lot more years left. I should have done some of the smaller classes with him. He was sound right to the day he passed away.”

In retirement, Sapphire enjoyed his daily rides with Jenny. And in the year before his passing, Sapphire learned to work “on the wire,” a bridle-less form of riding that utilizes a strap around the horse’s neck for direction and control. But all the while, a tumor common to gray horses grew large on the side of Sapphire’s head. It began to affect his eye and his ability to chew.

In a matter of two days, it looked as though Sapphire had lost a hundred pounds of weight, according to Mark, which prompted the difficult decision to lay Sapphire to rest on Saturday, February 29, 2020.

Sapphire’s legacy will continue not only in the stories of his gold-medal heroics, but also in his clone, Saphir, born in 2010. And through Saphir, Sapphire’s genetic legacy will be in the foals on the ground and those to come. Mark currently owns one foal, Cortir, by Saphir, in addition to storing frozen straws for future breeding.

“He always cleared the jumps by a couple of feet, but it was so smooth,” said Mark, remembering his longtime partner. “It wasn’t like you were getting jumped loose. His jump wasn’t hard to stay with—you basically just went along with him. He started out spooky and stayed spooky his entire life. It was easier to jump the jumps than to go around them.”

In a sense, the way Mark has described Sapphire, is a model to approach life: overcome obstacles without too much struggle. It just may be the final gift from the iconic gray horse that gave so much to his rider and to the sport.

 
March 2020 - High Standards, Low Cost
Written by CRM
Monday, 02 March 2020 20:48
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New development hunter/jumper show encourages affordable advancement in the sport.

Already known for its inventive management style, Nilforushan Equisport Events (NEE) is living up to its reputation with the addition of a new, unrated show weekend to its popular spring series. Taking place April 9-11, the Nilforushan Equisport Events Developmental Series will combine the feeling of competing at an A-rated horse show with the cost of competing at a local competition.

 


This unrated show will be held at the beautiful Galway Downs facility, the same that hosts the organization’s four-week Temecula Valley National Horse Show, to allow exhibitors to take advantage of a premier space and experience for an affordable flat fee. NEE’s four-week National series begins April 15-19, followed by three consecutive weeks May 13-31.

 

“The goal of this new Developmental Series is to allow equestrians to develop young horses, gain experience in the ring or simply to have fun without spending a huge amount to do so. We want this sport to be accessible to everyone. Nobody should have to save money for months or years to be able to afford a worthwhile horse show experience,” commented Ali Nilforushan, co-founder of Nilforushan Equisport Events.

The Grand Prix Ring offers a myriad of branding opportunities. Photo: Elaine Wessel / Phelps Media Group

“With our new Developmental Series, we are aiming to create an exciting event for exhibitors to compete in a beautiful location with nearly all of the benefits of an A-rated show for the price of a local, unrated horse show. The focus will be enjoyment and friendly competition, while those riders who make a living in the industry can also take advantage of the low price to help bring along a younger horse.”

As an organization committed to inclusion and enhancement of the equestrian sport, Nilforushan Equisport Events wants to change the perception that only the wealthy can afford to compete in order to allow everyone in the industry the opportunity to ride at a quality event. The Developmental Series will provide a chance for exhibitors seeking a more cost-effective option to gain experience in the ring, while also catering to local equestrians who are not chasing points or qualification standards.

One flat rate will encompass stall and class fees in addition to breakfast and lunch each day, helping to alleviate the financial burden that has come to be associated with horse shows in the United States.

In 2019, the Audi VIP Tent featured cars in the space as well as exclusive branding rights. Photo: Phelps Media Group

Similar to its four-week Temecula Valley National Horse Show circuit, the Development Series will offer world-class footing, jump tracks designed by top course designers and ample amenities for exhibitors. The beautiful and sprawling Galway Downs will host the competition, offering a perfect backdrop for photos and helping to turn many equestrians’ dream scenarios into a reality.

For riders with non-equestrian family and friends, ample entertainment experiences will be offered in addition to food and drink options to keep them comfortable and interested in the day’s activities. Staying true to its mission to broaden the appeal of equestrian sports to the public, Nilforushan Equisport Events will also invite the community to attend the entertainment that will be held during the horse show. Working towards an overall goal to provide riders, trainers, parents, exhibitors and guests with an outlet to experience a top-notch horse show at a reasonable price, Nilforushan Equisport Events is hoping to add a new gem to the Southern California equestrian calendar.

Article provided by NEE. For more information, visit www.jump-nee.com.

 
March 2020 - International Dressage
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Monday, 02 March 2020 19:49
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Three CDIs added to the California dressage calendar.

by Kim F. Miller

Three new international dressage shows, “CDIs,” have been added to the California calendar. The first up, the Pacific Coast CDI 3*, unfurls March 6-8 at Galway Downs Equestrian Center in Temecula. The new competition surfaced late last year. It was to be held at El Campeon Farms in Thousand Oaks as a stand-alone CDI giving top tier riders and horses an important opportunity to earn qualifying scores. In late January, the venue was changed to Galway Downs, and a national show was added.

 


Pacific Coast will hold a second CDI at Galway Downs on Nov 12-15, this one with a qualifier for the 2021 World Cup Finals. That’s followed by another new CDI Nov. 19-22, also with a World Cup qualifier, at the Desert International Horse Park and staged by different organizers: East Coasters Thomas Baur and Monica Fitzgerald.

 

The Pacific Coast crew is led by Barbara Biernat, whose main business is not show organization. “I’m out of my comfort zone,” says the owner of Horse And Rider Boutique that outfits many of the sport’s top stars with dressage attire and gear. The transplanted German is a die-hard West Coast dressage supporter who recognized that “somebody has to do something” when the initially-promising West Coast Dressage Festival of 2018 and 2019 disappeared from the 2020 calendar. Barbara’s prior experience includes helping manage two competitions in Paso Robles with the much-missed Lisa Blaufuss. The late organizer embraced fun additions, including a relay race, that harkened back to Barbara’s equestrian upbringing in Germany.

“’Finding

Ripple Effect

The community had high hopes for the Festival. It sought to give the region’s competitors ample reason to spend most of the season at home, rather than take their horses and their business to the long Florida winter circuit. Its demise left more than holes in the calendar. Re-igniting interest, support and faith from exhibitors, sponsors and even the USEF has been an uphill battle, Barbara acknowledges.

“The ripple effect is huge,” she explains of many taking a “sit this one out” stance. Finances for Pacific Coast are “totally transparent,” she states, and prospective sponsors are welcome to review them. “Most people have no idea how much it costs to put on a show,” she notes, especially a CDI in which the international officials are one of many extra and significant expenses.

“We have some people in the background who have really been encouraging me,” she reports. Bringing East Coast show organizer Debra Reinhart of Centerline Events and Galway Downs facility manager and competition promoter Robert Kellerhouse onto the organizing committee assured the best odds for success, even in the short time window in which they’re working.

Debra manages the USDF Finals and the 650-horse New England Dressage Association Finals. Robert was the first organizer to stage a CCI4*-L (formerly called a 3*) competition in the West, with the Galway Downs International in 2010, and has led the way in staging top-flight international eventing competition. As equestrian facilities manager, he’s orchestrated logistics for highest level dressage and A-rated hunter jumper competition at the venue.  

The shift from a CDI-only into a CDI and National show, and the move from El Campeon to Galway Downs, was only approved in late January. By then, it was too late to catch people already planning to compete in Florida for the winter. Nonetheless, Barbara was pleased to have 20 riders entered in the CDI as of press time and healthy numbers for the national divisions.

Adequan helped everything come together by stepping up as a sponsor. And even professionals who are missing the show because they’ll be in Florida are supporting remotely with class sponsorships and other help. More financial support is critical to assuring the show’s success.

“Everybody wants a unicorn, but you have to start with a pony,” notes Barbara. “We have to be realistic about what’s possible.” Rather than flashy VIP opportunities, Pacific Coast Dressage will succeed by being “communal,” she continues. A low-key cocktail party during Freestyle competition will be a social highlight of the weekend.

The Pacific Coast team will hold a second CDI at Galway in Nov 12-15, this one with a qualifier for the 2021 World Cup Finals. With more time to plan, for riders and organizers, Barbara is excited about the potential for that show, too.

The Pacific Coast November show is followed the very next week, Nov. 19-22, by the third new CDI in California, at the Desert International Horse Park, which is now in its first season of ownership and management by the Apex EquiSports partnership.  The “Thermal” venue has long hosted multi-week hunter/jumper circuits and the November dressage show is expected to be followed by more from the new entity in 2021.

Back-to-back World Cup qualifiers in November could attract an unusually large number of top riders. New FEI rules mandate that each state may only stage three World Cup qualifiers, so that means riders may re-route to California before Florida, getting a jump start on the process, Barbara predicts.

Desert Dressage

“We are thrilled to welcome dressage riders to the Desert International Horse Park and to have the opportunity to host our first FEI dressage event combined with a World Cup™ Qualifier,” says Steve Hankin, President and CEO of DIHP. “We have been hard at work improving our horse park. We believe dressage riders will really enjoy the experience here.”

This coming November will be the first time a dressage event will take place at the Desert International Horse Park: “As with our jumping events, we have assembled a great team for the event, including Thomas Baur and Monica Fitzgerald. We are excited to expand the use of the horse park beyond show jumping events. Thomas has been working with us closely and we are confident this partnership will bring new opportunities for the dressage community on the West Coast,” notes Hankin.

Thomas Baur is the current Sports Director of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida; and has served as the Discipline Manager of Dressage and Para Dressage Tyron WEG in 2018 and the Event Director of the World Cup™ Final Omaha in 2017.

“I am looking forward to organizing my first CDI in California. There are a number of dedicated and talented riders and horses on the West Coast who require good competitions to continue to grow the sport.”

Monica Fitzgerald, the current Competition Manager of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, has been appointed as the Office Manager for Desert Dressage. The show will take place in the horse park’s Grand Prix Arena with the Freestyle portion occuring on Saturday, Nov. 21 under the lights. The Prize List will be available on Desert International Horse Park’s website late summer 2020.

 


2020 California CDI Circuit

Pacific Coast I | March 3-8 | Galway Downs Temecula
Festival of the Horse | March 19-22 | Los Angeles Equestrian Center
Golden State Dressage Festival | April 2-5 | Sacramento Murieta Equestrian Center
Del Mar National | April 23-26 | San Diego Fairgrounds
Golden State Dressage Classic | June 11-14 | Murieta Equestrian Center
Pacific Coast II | November 12-15 | Galway Downs in Temecula
Desert Dressage | November 19-22 | Desert International Horse Park in Thermal

 

 
February 2020 - The Gallop: Horse Shopping 101
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Saturday, 01 February 2020 22:42
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Balance, behavior and no “if-onlys” are among Georgy Maskrey-Segesman’s criteria in sourcing sales and lease prospects for the hunter/jumper market.

by Kim F. Miller

After horse shopping in Europe for 15 years, Georgy Maskrey-Segesman has honed a gift for talent spotting, especially for the equitation and jumper divisions. Based at her family’s Whitethorne Ranch in Ventura County’s Somis, Georgy is known as a top source for lease and sale horses. She enjoyed extra limelight last year as the Whitethorne-sponsored young rider, Emma Pacyna, dominated the equitation division in the West and made her mark nationally on one of those horses, Constantinos.

 


Germany-based Dutch horseman Tjeert Rijkens is Georgy’s longtime partner. Shopping tours with Tjeert typically include seeing between 10 and 15 horses every day, most of them pre-screened by the Dutchman based on what he likes and what Georgy likes and is looking for on that trip. Sometimes she has a specific rider or division in mind, and often she’s looking for quality prospects with the general U.S. market in mind.

 

Equitation is Georgy’s specialty and passion, followed by jumpers. If a horse knocks her socks off as a hunter prospect, she’ll consider it, too.

Tjeert is a Holsteiner fan with a deep knowledge of bloodlines. While she appreciates his expertise and absorbs what she can, Georgy is not a bloodline expert in an academic sense. However, unknowingly, she often prefers horses from the same lines: Contender, Landgraf and Caretino.

Tjeert has a network of contacts whose farms they first visit. Georgy and Whitethorne’s rider Savannah Jenkins typically first evaluate the prospects going under saddle with another rider as their host reviews age, experience, breeding, etc. If the horse meets their initial muster, Savannah will ride it there. The next step is the horse coming to Tjeert’s facility to see how it behaves in an unfamiliar setting.

Savannah Jenkins & Quintana 11. Photo: Kim F. Miller

No Second Chances

Initial instincts are influential. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” Georgy notes. Balance is the first thing she looks for. “They either have it or they don’t,” she says of how well “the horse can naturally carry himself. You can’t teach that.” It’s evident at the trot and, at the canter, it’s critical to a good jump and to being able to find the jumps on a nice stride. Conformationally and in their way of going,

“You don’t want them downhill, or excessively uphill either.”

She’s also looking for that “nice look” in the horse’s eye – a soft expression that indicates relaxation and attentiveness to the rider.

An easy lead change is a make-it or break-it matter, especially in a 6 or 7-year-old. The flying change indicates balance and receptivity to training, Georgy explains. “If someone tried to bring the horse along, but it got flustered at the lead change and never quite got it, that’s a bad indicator. Other horses seem to get it the moment they hit the ground.” Favoring the latter is a way of “hedging my bets,” especially for an equitation horse. Jumpers are a different story.  “Touch Of Class cross-fired the entire way around the course,” she notes of the Thoroughbred mare Joe Fargis rode to team and individual jumping gold at the 1984 Olympics.

Spookiness is another deal-breaker. “That makes me crazy. With today’s rules and regulations, nobody wants to be lunging a horse for an hour to have it rideable.” Georgy screens for this trait by placing a jump in an unusual spot in the ring and/or with an unusual element: a cooler over the rail or an unfamiliar box underneath it.

“I don’t mind if they take a peek, but if they are repeatedly scared or skittish, no thank you.” The prospect’s second or third passes are critical. “If they get a little frozen or take a stutter step the first time, but are more bold the second or third time, I’m OK. Of course, my happy place is the horse that canters down brave as a bull and doesn’t care what you put up.”

A “heartless” horse is crossed off the list. “He can’t give up if the distance is a little long.” Good, natural jumping form is critical. “They have to jump well in front: not dangling a leg or dropping a shoulder.”

Stride length needs to be big enough for whatever division Georgy has in mind for the horse, though if that comes with a difficult-to-sit trot, she’ll think twice. Georgy’s expertise is equitation horses and, especially for them, “the sitting trot has to be comfortable.”  If the horse is an “unbelievable mover” she might compromise on that point.

If the horse passes the under-saddle test, Georgy wants to see it being handled in the cross-tie and observe it in the stall for general behavior. “Nobody wants a barracuda,” she says. “Years ago, I got one that was a cribber because I hadn’t paid careful attention to him in the barn.”

Prospects for sale or lease are scrutinized with different criteria, Georgy notes. “It might sound strange, but for me, the lease horse is held to the higher standard because he has the very specific job of teaching a rider and he’s usually going to change programs consistently – usually every year. He has to want to take a rider by the hand and educate them.”

Not all horses are suited for that. She cites Emma Pacyna’s star equitation partner, Constantinos, as an example: “My inclination is that he would get flustered if he was teaching a 3’ kid how to do the Big Eq division. His job is to be an Indoors horse with someone that already rides well.”

Veterinary exam results are evaluated a little differently for lease or sale horses, too. Although it’s rare for any horse to have perfectly clean x-rays, the sale horse needs the best report possible. With a lease prospect, Georgy looks at the x-rays in the context of the horse’s age and how it moves. “If there’s a change on the x-ray, but the horse is 11 and living with it, I’m OK with that. If he’s 5 and his feet are a little upright, but he’s sound and going, I’m OK with that.”

Georgy Maskrey-Segesman with sponsored young rider Emma Pacyna.

No “If Only…”

If these basic criteria aren’t solid, Georgy takes a pass. “Selecting a horse is like dating,” she explains. “If you have to say, ‘If only…’ I think you are probably never going to be able to fix it.”  There are exceptions to every rule, but she says, “It’s better to go with very specific criteria, based on what I can live with, and stick to it.”

Georgy foresees that her long-standing partnership with Tjeert will continue to source the bulk of Whitethorne’s lease and sale prospects, but she’s also interested in buying American-bred horses. She describes three programs, Kimberlee Farms, Three Wishes Farm and Anke Magnussen’s program, as examples of excellent domestic sporthorse producers. The problem is the cost of developing them in the States.

The first obstacle is open land for youngsters to grow up naturally in large pastures. The second is the expense of the early years of show mileage needed to make them ready for buyers who mostly want a horse they can start competing with right away.

Blenheim EquiSports and other show organizers who offer waived or discounted entry and stall fees for young horses are a big help, she emphasizes. Yet the cost of getting a young horse ready for sale is still prohibitively high.

In sponsoring Emma Pacyna and hosting the Whitethorne American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Challenges, Georgy has put her money where her concerns are in attempting to improve aspects of the hunter/jumper sport. Tackling young horse development costs is on her radar screen in the future.

Staging schooling shows at her facility is a possibility. The key, she states, is developing a way to track results at such unrecognized events, so that breeders have show records to include in the horse’s marketing package. While only in the idea stage now, such an effort would fit with one of Georgy’s priorities. “I feel really strongly that, if we want to participate in the sport, we have to give back to it and do whatever we can to try to keep it going.”
    
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 .

 
January 2020 - Know Before You Show
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 January 2020 00:14
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USEF 2020 rule changes relate to a range of topics ranging from horse welfare to show coat color.

The New Year brings changes to the United States Equestrian Federation rule book that governs all sanctioned equestrian competition. Affiliate, the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association, has created a simple guide of rule changes taking effect for the new competition year.

The following are important rule changes affecting hunter/jumper competition, aligned with their discipline and rule number for easier location in the rule book. These went into effect Dec. 1, 2019, for the 2020 competition year. The entire rule book can be found on www.usef.org.


Tack and Appointments:
This rule change clarifies the proper use of a curb chain to protect horses from equipment that could inflict pain or discomfort. Curbs must be constructed of loose links, joints, and/or lie smooth against the jaw of the horse and be free of sharp or inhumane objects.

Hunter Attire and Coat Color:
This new rule specifies that conventional attire following the tradition of fox hunting is encouraged and preferred and that judges shall not eliminate a rider for inappropriate attire except for safety.

Hunter and Pony Hunter Breeding:
This rule change clarifies that horses and ponies in Hunter Breeding classes should be judged on the ability to become or produce hunters and adds the term “athleticism” to the traits by which horses and ponies are judged.

Definition of a Complete Hunter Round:
This rule change defines what qualifies as a completed Hunter round. This rule rewrite aims to eliminate the practice of attempting to force a class to split by having a horse-and-rider combination enter the ring but not complete a course. It also defines completion of an under saddle class.

Use of Electronic Devices:
This rule states that the unsafe use of electronic devices, as determined by the competition steward in their sole discretion, including the use of cell phones with or without earphones/buds while mounted is prohibited in all areas designated for schooling and exercise and while longeing horses on competition grounds.

Jumper Prize Money:
This rule outlines how prize money and entry fees will be determined and distributed if a class is combined due to insufficient entries as outlined in JP 122.1.c.

Jumper Sections/Classes Restricted by Horse Age:
This rule is aimed to help clarify and guide course designers to construct safe and positive courses for the development of young jumpers. The rule includes course guidelines for all ages, 5-year-old Jumpers, 6-year-old Jumpers and 7-year-old Jumpers.

Sections/Classes Restricted to Junior, Amateur/Owner, Amateur Jumpers:
This rule changes the title of classes to High (1.40m or 1.45m), Medium (1.30m or 1.35m) and Low (1.20m or 1.25m), for Amateur Owner Jumpers, Amateur Jumpers, and Junior Jumpers. Prize lists must identify classes as High, Medium or Low according to the definition of the rule. This rule also further clarifies cross-entry restrictions between the lowest height section of Junior, Amateur Owner, amateur Jumpers and CSI3* Grand Prix classes offering $25,000 or more in prize money at the same competition.

National Standard Jumper Classes:
This rule change, under the Jumper rule book subchapter defining levels of difficulty (JP-4), creates a clear progression of fence heights from the American Standard (up to 1.40m) to National Standard (1.45m to 1.50m).

Horse Welfare:
This new rule change in the Equitation chapter aims to provide awareness and focus on the commitment to the protection and welfare of equine athletes competing in Hunter/Jumping Seat Equitation sections.

Beyond rule changes, members should be aware that the US Equestrian Board of Directors recently voted to prohibit the use of Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) in horses competing in USEF-licensed competitions effective December 1, 2019.

 

Additionally, farm and business entity owners should keep in mind that GR202 will now be in effect for the 2020 competition year. This rule amendment, passed by the US Equestrian Board of Directors at the 2017 USEF Annual Meeting, states, “If a horse(s) is owned by a farm or any other entity, at least one of the horse’s owners, either Farm/Business or Individual, must also obtain an exhibitor registration pursuant to GR1106.” The USEF provided members with a two-year transition period for compliance with this rule. If members have any questions regarding this rule and its implementation, they may contact USEF Customer Care by email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or by calling 859-258-2472 during business hours.

Please note this listing is not a comprehensive list of all rule changes effective Dec. 1, 2019. All rule changes can be found on www.usef.org.

Article provided by the USHJA. For more information, visit www.ushja.org.

 
January 2020 - Industry News Round-Up
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 31 December 2019 21:54
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New Dressage CDIs

Pacific Coast CDI announces that it will hold its first CDI*** at El Campeon Farms in Thousand Oaks, California, on March 5-8, and a CDI-W Nov 12-15 of 2020. The new all-volunteer show organizer group, Pacific Coast CDI, is spearheaded by Barbara Biernat with hired show management provided by Centerline Events’ Debra Reinhardt. It will work to create a smaller, financially sustainable CDI offering for the West Coast. “We have been running CDIs since 2002, and are looking forward to bringing our customer friendly style to El Campeon for this revitalization of the West Coast CDIs,” says Reinhardt.

 


Visit www.centerlineevents.comfor more info.

Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act

 

On Nov. 25, 2019, President Donald J. Trump signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, H.R. 724, into law. The bill, led by U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) passed the House and Senate in recent weeks without dissent. The PACT Act establishes the first federal anti-cruelty law in American history.

Animal Wellness Action’s executive director, Marty Irby attended the signing ceremony in the Oval Office along with U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.

“We’re thrilled to see the first anti-cruelty statute in American history signed into law and applaud President Trump and the Congress for providing the voiceless with a level of protection never seen before,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “The PACT Act will allow federal authorities to crack down on the most egregious of animal abusers and help keep American pets safe from harm.”

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. The Animal Wellness Foundation is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability.

For more information, visit www.animalwellnessaction.org.
 
West Palms Events & Langer Equestrian Group Partner in Woodside

Langer Equestrian Group is jumping into 2020 with a management team for its popular Woodside Spring and Summer Series shows at the Horse Park at Woodside. “Dale Harvey and his West Palms management team are going to manage our five-show series,” stated LEG Managing Director Marnye Langer. “I am really excited about the synergies our two management groups can achieve, and I believe the trainers and exhibitors are really going to benefit by this collaboration.”

Langer Equestrian Group has a 20-year history of producing shows at the Horse Park at Woodside and was instrumental in the development of the facility as a top-notch horse show venue in Northern California. West Palms produced its first show at the Horse Park in 2017 and added a second week in 2019.

“The West Palms team is really excited to manage the full series of shows for the 2020 Woodside show schedule. We look forward to working with Langer Group and The Horse Park at Woodside to deliver the best show season yet,” stated Dale Harvey, CEO of West Palms Events.

American Horse Council Internships

In 2020, the American Horse Council will again offer internship programs available to both high school and college students. Students are eligible to apply for one internship per year in the AHC Internship Program. Three programs range from one to two weeks, one to two months or full semester internships, with stipends to help defray expenses. Focus areas include policy and legislation, marketing and communications, equine disease communication (with the American Association of Equine Practitioners), equine welfare, and health and regulatory.

For more information, visit www.americanhorsecouncil.org.

 
January 2020 - And The Winner Is…
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 31 December 2019 20:17
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Association gatherings see people, horses and programs celebrated for accomplishments and contributions.

Super Year for Suppenkasper

The United States Dressage Federation™ congratulates the 11-year-old 18 hand, Dutch Warmblood gelding, Suppenkasper, owned by Akiko Yamazaki’s Four Winds Farm LLC, and ridden by Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, for being named 2019 Adequan®/USDF Grand Prix Horse of the Year. Suppenkasper›s median score of 75.696 percent made him the top horse in the United States competing at this level and the recipient of USDF’s highest honor.   


Steffen & Suppenkasper. Photo: Kim F. Miller

Suppenkasper was recognized at the 2019 Adequan®/USDF Salute Gala and Annual Awards Banquet with a commemorative personalized plaque, an embroidered cooler, and a gift certificate provided by Dressage Extensions.

Also, Suppenkasper is the recipient of the Colonel Thackeray Award and will have his name engraved on a silver trophy to be on permanent display in the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame, housed at the USDF National Education Center, located at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“USDF is thrilled to be able to recognize this extraordinary horse for his many accomplishments during the 2019 competition season.  We also congratulate Akiko Yamazaki, Four Winds Farm, Steffen Peters, and the entire Suppenkasper team,” stated USDF Executive Director Stephan Hienzsch.

Charlotte Robson-Skinner, middle. Photo: Tricia Booker / USHJA

USHJA Awards

The United States Hunter Jumper Association held its annual meeting in early December in Denver. Along with educational presentations, committee meetings and rule change proposals and decisions, the gathering included year-end award presentations. Kudos to the many recipients from the West Coast:

The President’s Distinguished Service Award was developed to recognize and honor the dedication and service by members and volunteers to the USHJA and the sport. This year’s recipients of the award include Charlotte Skinner-Robson and Robin Rost Brown, as well as the Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Committee. Skinner-Robson works with the Langer Equestrian show management group and has long served on various committees.
Larry Langer and Bob Cacchione, two exceptional innovators in the sport, were awarded the William J. Moroney Visionary Award during the evening. This honor is awarded to an individual or group deemed as inspirational, influential and integral to furthering the Hunter and Jumper disciplines.

Both Langer and Cacchione have impacted the sport putting their dreams and ideas into action. Langer has been committed to creating opportunities for riders to advance in the sport including the development of the Emerging Jumper Rider Program and Show Jumping Athlete Pathway, which he has worked tirelessly to bring to life.

Exceptional horse show staff were recognized for their invaluable role in delivering the very best hunter/jumper competitions. Julie O’Connor, of Riverside County’s Corona was awarded the West Coast Vital Horse Show Staff Award.

Larry Langer with Bill Maroney. Photo: Tricia Booker / USHJA

Wild Turkey Honored

US Equestrian Barbara Ellison and her Wild Turkey Farm sporthorse breeding program in Wilsonville, OR. were announced as the winners of the 2019 US Equestrian Ellen Scripps Davis Memorial Breeders’ Cup Award.

The Ellen Scripps Davis Memorial Breeders’ Cup Award recognizes an individual and/or breeding enterprise who consistently breeds outstanding performance and show horses. The award honors the role that good breeding plays in the development and improvement of performance and show horses.

“I am speechless and very honored,” Barb said, upon receiving the news. “And honestly this is an award won by a team: my staff at the farm, Mandy Porter, my vets, Ryan Ferris, Columbia Equine, my farrier, Jason Smith, etc. As they say, it takes a village. Thank you!”

For West Coasters honored in US Eventing Association gathering, see story, this issue.

 
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