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Expert how-to for English riders

November 2016





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5 Reasons GYMNASTICS are great for Every Horse and Rider 1. BALANCE





Though every horse is born knowing how to jump, doing so with your weight on his back requires considerable practice. Jumping multiple obstacles in a gymnastic exercise teaches him rhythm, self-carriage and the ability to stay balanced without relying on you to hold him together.

A green horse tends to overjump obstacles, scramble between fences, jump flat or hang a leg. Gymnastics are the best way to improve his proficiency and form when approaching, jumping and recovering from fences, as well as your own riding position and technique.

Gymnastic exercises encourage a horse to flex his back correctly over fences, engaging his hindquarters and using his head and neck to maximum effect. They also teach him to adapt the length of his stride and the shape of his bascule to address different distances and different types of obstacle.

If introduced in a progression, gymnastics both challenge a horse and keep him interested in problem solving, building his courage every step of the way. A confident horse with a good attitude makes for a joyful partnership!

Though jumping “little and often” is the key to success, working your way through a series of related gymnastics will increase your horse’s mental and physical fitness, as well as your own. Make gymnastics a regular part of your training regimen!

Jim Wofford’s Jumping Academy at

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Jumping Clinic With George Morris Four stirrups that may need shortening


Conformation Clinic With Julie Winkel Which older sporthorse has the best conformation? Compare your placings to our judge’s.




Cross Country With Jim Wofford Jim shares the importance of stillness in the saddle and gives tips on how to study your horse’s gaits to achieve unity.

40 22

Center Aisle Tik Maynard stresses the need to take your time when retraining an off-the-track Thoroughbred.


Inside Your Ride Tonya Johnston explains the value of an individualized pre-ride routine and shares Paralympian Rebecca Hart’s techniques for success.


Features 32

Team USA’s Olympic Triumph Team USA was determined not to let the disappointment of the 2012 London Olympics repeat itself. Here’s how the American riders pulled off a strong comeback, medaling in all three equestrian disciplines in Rio de Janeiro.


Ulcers: An Exclusive Report Could your horse have ulcers? Get a better understanding of this common condition along with prevention and treatment methods for improved equine health.


Trailer training can impact transportation risk; world’s first PET scanner for equine use

Fence by Fence at the Hunter Derby Final This year’s Hunter Derby Championship winner, Kristy Herrera, shares her strategy for riding the challenging course and how she successfully executed her plan on a catch-ride mount.


Editor’s Note 64 Practical Tips & Talk 68 Health Update 8

Classifieds 72 My Life 70

When a trailer accident left Michelle Craig’s horse with a broken jaw, the pair embarked on a brideless journey.

Holiday Gifts That Won’t Bust Your Budget Twelve budget-friendly gifts for every equestrian on your holiday shopping list







Emily Daily

Q Relive all the Rio Olympic excitement with photo galleries and interviews

Jocelyn Pierce ART DIRECTOR

Philip Cooper

Q Keep up with your favorite riders while they compete at the National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Elizabeth Iliff Prax, Holly Jacobson, Elaine Pascoe, Mary Kay Kinnish SPECIAL PROJECTS EDITOR

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Q Read how Tik Maynard won the freestyle at the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover


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he other day I was walking on a trail with my horse and remembered part of Jim Wofford’s column this month (page 16). In it he speaks about studying your horse’s gaits and then matching your movement to his. At the walk, he says that, in part, you “should have the feeling that as your horse reaches forward with his left shoulder, your right leg closes to ensure impulsion and regularity.” I’ve read about the timing of the aids and have discussed it in lessons but don’t always consciously think of it when riding. So on my trail ride, I revisited it. In short order, my horse was marching forward and even broke into trot. (Jim did say that all of the motions he discussed were subtle.) This was just one of many individual gems of wisdom I found in this issue that can have a big impact on riding. Another example is from our story about the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship where winner Kristy Herrera talks about how she rode each fence in the handy-hunter course with Miss Lucy (page 40). After explaining how she jumped a trot log, borrowed from the cross-country course of the Kentucky Horse Park, halfway through the course, she shares this insight: “I always try to break up the course and think about it in pieces,” she says. “So I was starting over, I had to gear up again.” I thought this was a great startegy to avoid going around a course on autopilot and plant little reminders on course to check things like pace and track. Finally, I found another gem in Tonya Johnston’s column on mental skills (page 26). In it, she interviewed U.S. Paralympic Team rider Rebecca Hart, who explains that she has a little make-up compact that she brings to the ring. Before heading into the arena, she takes the compact out and makes a funny face. Tonya explains that this helps Rebecca establish positive energy, and in Rebecca’s words, the action “takes me back to when you didn’t even realize how hard it was to do this sport. You just did it because you loved it and because it was fun and it was amazing.” Though it’s not a training tip, it’s my favorite because it reminds me of why I ride. Let me know your favorite tip from this issue at practical.horseman@ © KATHY BLANK

Editor’s Note


Small Gems 8

02!#4)#!,(/23%-!.s NOVEMBER 2016

Sandra Oliynyk Editor

Tip of the Month “I have a tendency to let my eye get long when the jump is far away. So I didn’t look at that wall until I was seven or eight strides out, just so I wouldn’t look too early and get desperate to it.” —Kristy Herrera, p. 47


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Jumping Clinic With George Morris

Four Stirrups That May Need Shortening



George H. Morris is the former chef d’équipe of the U.S. Equestrian Federation Show Jumping Team. He serves on the USEF National Jumper Committee and Planning Committee, is an adviser to the USEF HighPerformance Show Jumping Committee and is president of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame.


This rider’s leg has swung back and is not stable, jeopardizing her security—if the horse stops, she could fall off. In this position, her leg is also unintentionally telling the horse to speed up. This is possibly happening because her stirrup is too long—the angle behind her knee looks too open. I suggest she shorten it a hole for jumping. Her stirrup iron is correctly angled forward, but her foot is too far home in the iron. She needs to move it forward so that about one-quarter of it is in the iron. This will help her get her heel down and allow for a more supple leg. Once the stirrup is shortened and her foot is properly in the iron, this rider needs to practice keeping her leg in the correct position with her calf in contact with the horse’s sides at the walk, trot, canter and then over crossrails before she can make it a habit over a course. Her base of support is excellent. She’s out of the saddle and there is no sign of her jumping ahead or dropping behind. She’s not as athletic as I’d like, giving her a rather dowdy, roached back. Her eyes are up and looking ahead. She’s got an excellent short release: The reins are slack and moved up the neck a couple of inches. The horse is very cute. He’s a little loose below the knees, but he’s very symmetrical and his forearm is parallel to the ground. He also jumps rather flat. He is wearing a standing martingale, which is acceptable with beginners, though she could move on to a running martingale. The horse is also in a ring bit that is popular now. It puts upward pressure on the mouth and downward pressure on the poll. They aren’t very good to use for slow work because they prevent horses from bending in the poll and prohibit suppleness. The horse is very clean but they are very casually turned out and I’m not crazy about the green of the shirt and polos and the greenish tinge to the saddle pad.


This rider’s basics are good. He needs to twist his stirrup so that the iron is at a right angle to the girth with the outside branch leading the inside. This looks better aesthetically and also allows for a suppler leg. His heel is well down, the stirrup is on the ball of the foot and his calf is in contact with the horse’s sides. He could possibly shorten the stirrup a hole because there is not enough angle behind his knee. It should be about 100 to 110 degrees. Shortening his stirrups would help his base of support—his buttocks are a little too deep at this point in the saddle. But the horse is overjumping and it would be hard for anyone to stay with him, so this man is doing a good job—a shorter stirrup would possibly help. His back is roached, which is often a habit or related to age, and a shorter stirrup might help that, too. This is another good example of a short release. The rein is slack, letting the horse drop his head and neck, providing enough freedom. The horse is interesting. He’s got a big head and massive shoulder and his knees are up enough. His forearm is not quite parallel to the ground—heavy warmbloods tend to point their knees down—but he’s not bad. I like his front end. His knees, pasterns and feet are very even. He’s also the roundest jumper we’ve seen in a while. From the tip of his nose through his poll, withers and back and down to his tail, he has a really round arc. He’s got a lot of power, thrust and scope. He looks as if he could jump a big jump and would make a good show jumper. He appears roughly cared for because his coat is long. Maybe he lives out. But if you ride and especially foxhunt a horse with a long coat, he will sweat and possibly get sick. It’s also unsightly. I think he needs a body clip or a hunter clip.




Our third rider has a very good leg, too, but could shorten her stirrup because this is a very narrow-sided horse and she has a very long leg from the hip to the knee and the knee to the heel. A shorter stirrup would allow her lower leg to be more in contact with the horse’s rib cage and tighten the angle behind her knee from 130 to about 110 degrees. Her heel is down and her ankle is flexed. She could move the iron closer to her toe, though having the foot a little farther back in eventing is permissable. Her seat is excellent: It’s out of the saddle but not too high or too forward. She has a good back. She is looking down—at this point in the jump, her eyes should be well up and looking ahead. She’s using a good short release with a slack rein. The short release does not have the perfect contact or control of the automatic release, where the contact remains the same approaching, going over and landing from the jump. The horse is very cute. His dish face and tail pointing out make me think he has Arab blood. Arabs are very intelligent and sensitive, though they don’t traditionally have a lot of scope. But they’re safe and they fold their legs over lower fences and they have great stamina and are good movers. I can’t really talk about this horse’s jump because he’s landing. He’s splitting his legs a little, but he’s not dangerous. His hind end trails a little—from his stifle to the end of his foot is straight out behind him. He’s clean but it looks as if he has a long coat and his mane could be pulled. They are a vision in blue, which eventers like but I don’t because I think bright colors distract from the horse.


Take a trip back in time to read some of George’s classic Jumping Clinic critiques at

This looks like a good equitation rider, yet again, I’d possibly shorten her stirrups a hole. The angle behind her knee is open at about 130 degrees and her buttocks are high out of the saddle. She also could move the stirrup a little closer to her toe. She looks like she has a tendency to stand on her toe rather than drive the weight in her heel. It’s not up, but it could be farther down. Once she’s shortened the stirrup, she can get in two-point position and ride over crossrails and through grids, focusing on pushing the weight from her seat to her knee to her heel. As is often the fashion today, this short release is above the crest instead of alongside it. The rider is rotating her hands up, back and down, bending her wrists and trying to lift the horse off the ground. She first needs to establish a good release, where as she sees her distance, she softens her hands, lowers them and presses them into the horse’s neck. She has a classic back with a concavity in the area just above her belt. People from other countries criticize U.S. equitation riders for having swaybacks, but that’s how you want to start out. This rider is looking up and ahead with a very alert and focused yet relaxed expression. This is a wonderful equitation horse. He has an alert, not spooky, expression. His knees are up and his forearms are parallel to the ground, almost dead even. He’s not overly tight but he is symmetrical and he jumps very flat from his poll to the dock of his tail. This is an advantage with an equitation horse because he’s easier to stay with. He looks quiet and big-strided, but is a horse who could shorten his stride and make a jump look perfect, even if the distance isn’t perfect. The horse’s coat could use more grooming to bring out its shine, but both his and his rider’s turnout is stylish and beautiful.


Do you want George Morris to critique your riding? If so, send in a color photograph, at least 3 x 5 inches, taken from the side, in which your position is not covered by a standard. Mail it to Jumping Clinic, Practical Horseman, 656 Quince Orchard Rd., Suite 600, Gaithersburg, MD 20878 or email a high-resolution (300 dpi) copy to practical. horseman@equinet Please indicate photographer’s name/contact information if professionally taken. Submitted photos may also appear on Practical Horseman’s website and be displayed on Facebook.



Conformation Clinic

Choose the Best Older Sporthorse Place these horses in your order of preference. Then turn the page to see how your choices compare to sporthorse judge Julie Winkel’s.


21-year-old mare Thoroughbred

DISCIPLINE: Trail Riding/ Foxhunting

33-year-old gelding Arabian/ Quarter Horse

DISCIPLINE: Dressage/Eventing

To learn about Julie’s evaluation philosophy and to see an example of how

35-year-old gelding Pony/Standardbred

to best present your horse for this column, visit www.Practical HorsemanMag.



Trail Riding/ Foxhunting


hether judging a model class, evaluating a prospect for a client or sizing up the yearlings at home, I first stand back and look for an overall impression of balance and symmetry. My ideal horse “fits” in a square box. By that, I mean he is defined by matching and equal parts, both front to back and side to side. This allows for athletic ability, soundness, trainability and longevity in the job. A horse who fits in a box will have a body made up of one-third shoulder, one-third back and one-third hindquarters. I like to see the withers and point of croup at the same level. The horse’s stance, from point of shoulder to buttock, should equal the distance from the height of the withers to the ground. I also always look at the eyes because I want to see a horse with clear, alert vision. From the head, I move down the neck to the shoulders and along the back to the hind-end and leg construction. For jumpers, the emphasis should be on hindquarters with a good length from the hipbone to the point of the buttock for power off the ground. For hunters, the emphasis should be a level topline from ears to tail, a well-sloped shoulder for fluid movement and ability to lift in the air. For dressage, a more upright build and a shorter neck are desired.

Owner of Maplewood Stables in Reno, Nevada, Julie Winkel has been a U.S. Equestrian Federation “R” hunter breeding judge for 30 years and Canadian Equestrian Federation “S” judge for more than 15 years. She co-chairs the USEF Licensed Officials Committee and serves on the Young Jumper Championships and USHJA board of directors. Julie has judged pony and hunter breeding at Devon and Upperville, the Sallie B. Wheeler Championship and the USHJA Hunter International Derby. She hosts annual sporthorse inspection tours at her facility, where she stands her grand-prix stallions, Cartouche Z and Osilvis. As a rider, trainer, judge and breeder, Julie focuses on which traits make athletic horses and how structure affects soundness.

To submit a photo to be evaluated in Conformation Clinic, send us a side-view photo of your horse, posed similarly to those shown above. For digital photos: at least 3” x 5” at high resolution (300 dpi). Make sure your entire horse is in the photo and that he’s well groomed, preferably wearing a bridle, looking straight ahead and standing on level ground—and try to avoid distracting backgrounds. Email or mail a print to Conformation Clinic, Practical Horseman, 656 Quince Orchard Rd., Suite 600, Gaithersburg, MD 20878. Include your contact information and your horse’s breed, age and gender and the disciplines in which you ride. If the photo is professionally taken, please include the photographer’s name and contact information. ./6%-"%2  s PRACTICAL HORSEMAN







3 14


It’s a daunting task to evaluate three aged horses of different breeds and backgrounds, but I chose the winner for having the best hindquarter and best topline of the group. His head is proportionate to his body with a kind eye and he shows a good length of mouth. His smaller nostril, however, does affect air intake. He shows good neck length, although it attaches too low onto his shoulder. Ideally, the neck should connect above the point of the shoulder for maximum range of motion. The shoulder has adequate length and slope, joining well-

defined withers. The front legs are a tad back at the knee, with a backward bow, putting undue stress on bones, ligaments and joints of the lower limbs. The midsection looks a bit long but his back remains strong. His hindquarter has good length through his equilateral triangle, although he appears to have a curb on the right hind just below the hock. This is a tear or strain of the plantar ligament, which can be reccurring but more often, like a splint, is a non-issue once set. In excellent weight and condition, this senior citizen looks to have more good years ahead.

Placing second, this 21-year-old mare also carries great flesh, especially for a Thoroughbred. Her head is less than feminine with a coarse muzzle and smallerthan-ideal eye. Her throatlatch appears thick and ties into a eweshaped neck. The muscle underneath is overdeveloped, whereas the top is underdeveloped. Possibly, this is because she’s not in work. Her shoulder has good length and slope along with prominent withers. However, her forearms are short with long cannon bones. This minimizes stride length and efficiency. Her knees, hocks and ankles

are all of adequate size, but she appears to have been pin fired, noting the pattern of needle marks along the outside of her front legs. Years ago, this technique was common, especially in racehorses, to relieve swelling on stressed tendons. Her back is long, but she has a strong hindquarter. However, her hind leg sits too far behind her, reducing engagement and power. Her pasterns are average in length and slope but her feet are small with low heels. She appears to wear wedge pads to correct that. Still, this sturdy mare sports minimal jewelry to show for her vintage age.

Our third-place entry lacks the overall quality and athleticism of the other two horses. His expression and kind eye indicate he is sweet as can be. His face is lovely with large nostrils and a good mouth length. He has an average length, shape and set to his neck. However, his overly prominent withers, where the back drops off sharply behind, make saddle fit challenging. His barrel and heart girth look ample to support the heart and lungs needed for cross country. The dark photo makes it difficult to see the front legs. However, the heels look quite low, creating an unnatural angle to the front

pasterns. This puts stress on the tendons, ligaments, bones and joints of the front limbs. His back is not long but it appears weak and underdeveloped. His hindquarter drops off drastically, making him goose-rumped, and he exhibits post-legged construction with little length or angulation. This combination of faults limits his ability to reach under himself and propel forward. His stride length and engine thrust will be minimal. Overall, this gelding lacks muscle tone and is not structurally inclined to work as a powerful machine, however he gets my vote for sweetness.

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Cross Country With Jim Wofford

Repose in Motion There’s more to the appearance of stillness on a moving horse than just sitting there.


ut she’s just sitting there.” Have you heard someone say that recently? When people watch a good rider, that’s usually one of their first comments. I laugh to myself every time I hear it because it is so far from the truth. The rider under observation is moving all the time. It is just that her movements are so subtle we can’t see them. Good riders may appear to sit still, but they actually are moving—in the same direction and at the same speed as their horse. It takes hard work to look as if you are doing nothing while you ride, yet every good rider has this ability. I thought it would be worthwhile to study it and hopefully learn to imitate this stillness—this quality of repose in the saddle.

A Moving Target

Based at Fox Covert Farm, in Upperville, Virginia, Jim Wofford competed in three Olympics and two World Championships and won the U.S. National Championship five times. He is also a highly respected coach. For more on Jim, go to www. jimwofford.




Except at the halt, a good rider will move in harmony with her horse. An old-fashioned description of a good horse-and-

If ever there were a rider who looks as if she is “just sitting there,” it is Great Britain’s three-time Olympic gold medalist, Charlotte Dujardin. She is shown here on her partner Valegro, winning the individual dressage gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Watching this pair is a revelation. We rarely see in the real world all the things that dressage experts say are possible. Watching near-perfection makes for an unforgettable experience. This pair scored 90.08 percent in the 2012 London Olympics to win their first individual gold medal and then raised their score at Rio to 93.58 percent. (She also helped win team gold in 2012.) You should watch the videos of their performances if you want to see an outstanding example of repose in motion.


rider combination is that the picture was no longer that of horse and rider but rather that they became a centaur— a mythical creature, half horse and half man. Therefore, if we are to follow a horse’s motion accurately, we must study it closely. In his best-selling book Outliers, world-famous author Malcolm Gladwell concluded that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery of a particular skill. He is often misunderstood to mean that all you have to do to become an expert rider is spend 10,000 hours sitting in the saddle. Time spent with your horse while merely sitting in the saddle, however, will only serve to confirm your bad habits. This is the classic case in which practice does not make perfect, but rather perfect practice makes perfect, a quote widely attributed to legendary football coach Vince Lombardi. If you are serious about attaining the quality of unity and repose with your horse, then you have to ask, “What is it that I am trying so hard to connect with?” We can bring anyone in off the street and, if she is brave enough, put her on a horse while she is dressed in the latest fashion. (Lately, this means sparkle-fronted riding coats, rhinestone browbands, spurs that glow in the dark and plastic stirrups in unusual neon colors—with glitter, of course. All this display is intended to disguise the fact that the riders can’t ride well and are more concerned with their image than their horses’ health and training.) Oops, where was I? I tend to lose my sense of repose when I see some of the gaudy displays that pass for competitive attire these days. Oh yes, I was about to talk about how this new and gorgeously-attired rider can appear still as long as the horse cooperates by standing still. But at the walk and (oh my, yes) at the trot, the quality of repose immediately disintegrates as the horse’s and rider’s bodies pursue their separate agendas.

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A Close Look at Each Gait

of their horses is at the walk. By studying your horse’s movement at liberty, you will have noticed that his head and neck The best way to learn how to sit quioscillate as he walks. To move in haretly on a horse is to first dismount and mony with him, you need to relax your watch your horse move in a paddock or elbows so that as your horse moves his on a longe line. And I don’t mean just neck forward, your elbows open slightly watch casually—you need to study his (this movement is small but very precise three paces. and very important) and as his neck At the walk, does your horse’s back comes back to you, your elbows close an move up and down, back and forth, or equal amount. does it remain flat? What about the moYour motion when foltion of his head and neck? lowing the walk should be How many beats does the confined to your arms and walk have? elbows. While you should When your horse trots, imagine there is a pivot in do his head and neck move your shoulder joint and a back and forth? What about spring at the back of your his back? Try to observe elbow, your own body the exact nature of his moshould remain erect and tion. People have trouble quiet. From the waist down, sitting the trot because they your hips and seat bones do not realize their horse’s should be very steady and back is not just rising and regular in their motion, falling. His hips are also helping your horse maintain going alternately up and the integrity of the pace. At down. This produces a the same time, you should complex motion, which is have the feeling that as your why it takes a while for ridhorse reaches forward with ers to learn to sit the trot. “You can see a lot just by watching” or so baseball Hall of Famer Yogi his left shoulder, your right When your horse canBerra said. He must have known a bit about horses because one of the leg closes to ensure impulters, what parts of his body best ways to improve your riding is to watch your horse move while he sion and regularity. Altermove? His back? His head is at liberty. Watch him at all three paces in both directions and try to nately, as his right shoulder and neck? Go through the imagine what each step or stride would feel like if you were sitting on his back. For example, this extremely cute gray horse (I can’t help it … I moves forward, your left same study process you did think every horse I see is cute; some are just cuter than others) is trotting leg is closing at the girth. for the other paces. by you with a “wanna play?” look in his eye. That is cute, but the really It is very important that all interesting part is how far under his body his right hind leg is stepping these motions we are talking Match your when he does not have anyone pulling back on the reins. This engagement is caused by the rotation of his hips. Remember this the next time about are subtle. All these Movement you sit on your horse and follow that motion with your seat rather than maintaining and impulsive To His bouncing at the trot. aids occur without involvOnce you understand what ing your upper body, which your horse does with his should remain tall and poised. One of turn on the haunches. If you ask at the body at each pace, you should have a my favorite coach’s comments is that if I wrong time, you will get a wrong result. much better idea of which parts of your can see it, it is too much. It takes a while The timing of your aids on the flat is goanatomy need to move in order to reto train a rider and horse to apply and ing to become equally as important as main synchronized with his movements. respond to invisible aids, but it is time well your timing when you are jumping. If You already know that the walk has spent, considering the end result. you are just starting to work your way four beats, the trot two beats, the canter up the ladder of qualifications, you don’t three beats and the gallop four beats. But need show-jump or dressage timing yet— you should know what each foot is doSecrets of Stillness at but you need to understand the concept. ing, which foot will move next and what Trot and Canter One of the clearest examples of riders’ Once you are comfortable with your the influence of his footwork will be on inability to accurately follow the motions his back and his head and neck. (now much-improved) connection with © AMY K. DRAGOO

You may not realize it yet, but as your dressage work gets more sophisticated, you need to ask for the movement you want from, say, a given hind foot just before that foot is supposed to act so that your horse can respond immediately and correctly. For example, ask for a left turn on the haunches when his right front foot strikes the ground. The next beat in the walk sequence of footfalls will be his left hind foot, which is the pivot foot in a left



OSPHOS® (clodronate injection) Bisphosphonate For use in horses only. Brief Summary (For Full Prescribing Information, see package insert) CAUTION: Federal (USA) law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. DESCRIPTION: Clodronate disodium is a non-amino, chlorocontaining bisphosphonate. Chemically, clodronate disodium is (dichloromethylene) diphosphonic acid disodium salt and is manufactured from the tetrahydrate form. A INDICATION: For the control of clinical signs associated with navicular syndrome in horses. CONTRAINDICATIONS: A Horses with hypersensitivity to clodronate disodium should not receive OSPHOS. WARNINGS: Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. HUMAN WARNINGS: Not for human use. Keep this and all drugs out of the reach of children. Consult a physician in case of accidental human exposure.


PRECAUTIONS: As a class, bisphosphonates may be associated with gastrointestinal and renal toxicity. Sensitivity to drug associated adverse reactions varies with the individual patient. Renal and gastrointestinal adverse reactions may be associated with plasma concentrations of the drug. Bisphosphonates are excreted by the kidney; therefore, conditions causing renal impairment may increase plasma bisphosphonate concentrations resulting in an increased risk for adverse reactions. Concurrent administration of other potentially nephrotoxic drugs should be approached with caution and renal function should be monitored. Use of bisphosphonates in patients with conditions or diseases affecting renal function is not recommended. Administration of bisphosphonates has been associated with abdominal pain (colic), discomfort, and agitation in horses. Clinical signs usually occur shortly after drug administration and may be associated with alterations in intestinal motility. In horses treated with OSPHOS these clinical signs usually began within 2 hours of treatment. Horses should be monitored for at least 2 hours following administration of OSPHOS. Bisphosphonates affect plasma concentrations of some minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, immediately post-treatment, with effects lasting up to several hours. Caution should be used when administering bisphosphonates to horses with conditions affecting mineral or electrolyte homeostasis (e.g. hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, hypocalcemia, etc.). The safe use of OSPHOS has not been evaluated in horses less than 4 years of age. The effect of bisphosphonates on the skeleton of growing horses has not been studied; however, bisphosphonates inhibit osteoclast activity which impacts bone turnover and may affect bone growth. Bisphosphonates should not be used in pregnant or lactating mares, or mares intended for breeding. The safe use of OSPHOS has not been evaluated in breeding horses or pregnant or lactating mares. Bisphosphonates are incorporated into the bone matrix, from where they are gradually released over periods of months to years. The extent of bisphosphonate incorporation into adult bone, and hence, the amount available for release back into the systemic circulation, is directly related to the total dose and duration of bisphosphonate use. Bisphosphonates have been shown to cause fetal developmental abnormalities in laboratory animals. The uptake of bisphosphonates into fetal bone may be greater than into maternal bone creating a possible risk for skeletal or other abnormalities in the fetus. Many drugs, including bisphosphonates, may be excreted in milk and may be absorbed by nursing animals. Increased bone fragility has been observed in animals treated with bisphosphonates at high doses or for long periods of time. Bisphosphonates inhibit bone resorption and decrease bone turnover which may lead to an inability to repair micro damage within the bone. In humans, atypical femur fractures have been reported in patients on long term bisphosphonate therapy; however, a causal relationship has not been established. ADVERSE REACTIONS: The most common adverse reactions reported in the field study were clinical signs of discomfort or nervousness, colic and/or pawing. Other signs reported were lip licking, yawning, head shaking, injection site swelling, and hives/pruritus. As with all drugs, side effects may occur. In field studies, the most common side effects reported were signs of discomfort or nervousness, colic, and/or pawing. OSPHOS should not be used in pregnant or lactating mares, or mares intended for breeding. Use of OSPHOS in patients with conditions affecting renal function or mineral or electrolyte homeostasis is not recommended. Refer to the prescribing information for complete details or visit or call 866.933.2472.

CAUTION: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of licensed veterinarian. * Freedom of Information Summary, Original New Animal Drug Application, NADA 141-427, for OSPHOS. April 28, 2014. Dechra Veterinary Products US and the Dechra D logo are registered trademarks of Dechra Pharmaceuticals PLC. © 2016 Dechra Ltd.

Distributed by: Dechra Veterinary Products 7015 College Boulevard, Suite 525 Overland Park, KS 66211 866-933-2472 © 2016 Dechra Ltd. OSPHOS is a registered trademark of Dechra Ltd. All rights reserved. NADA 141-427, Approved by FDA

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your horse at the walk, apply the same sort of analysis to his trot. You should have noticed that his head and neck are much quieter at the trot than at the walk. You also should have noticed that when he is trotting away from you at liberty, his hips alternately rise and sink. The motion happens because when he pushes back with his hind foot, his hip on that side lowers. At the same instant, his opposite hip is now higher due to the opposite hind foot being placed under his body. As you have been bouncing at the sitting trot all these years, you have envisioned your horse’s trotting motion as up and down. You now realize you are sitting on something that is twisting underneath you. As one of his hips rises, you must lift that seat bone an equal amount. (It may help you to press your other seat bone down at the same time. This will help you move your hips in rhythm with the trot.) Finally, go through the same analytical process with your horse’s canter. We will talk about the gallop some other time, but you have to canter before you can gallop. At the canter, his back appears level, which explains why at first it is easier to sit the canter than the trot. You should have the sensation you are sitting on a playground swing with your seat bones moving forward and back in rhythm with your horse. I want you to advance the seat bone of the lead slightly, slightly forward while keeping your shoulders parallel with his ears. Your inside lower leg should stroke his side at the girth; you should have the sensation that your right leg is pushing his left shoulder forward and vice versa. The alternating use of your lower leg tells your horse how much impulsion is needed at any given time. Once you have practiced these three paces with an improved understanding of your horse’s motion, you will soon look as if you are “just sitting there.” But you and your horse will know a secret— you are moving together.

Don’t let it come to this. Stop making things hard on yourself and your horse. With just one dose, QUEST PLUS (moxidectin/praziquantel) Gel treats and controls encysted small strongyle larvae, bots and tapeworms. Compare that with Panacur Powerpac, which requires a double dose every day for five days and still doesn’t treat bots or tapeworms. And a recent study showed moxidectin reduced fecal egg counts by 99.9%. Panacur Powerpac was only 42% effective.1,* QUEST PLUS: The Power of One.

Do not use QUEST Gel or QUEST PLUS Gel in foals less than 6 months of age or in sick, debilitated and underweight horses. Do not use in other animal species, as severe adverse reactions, including fatalities in dogs, may result. 1

Mason ME, Voris ND, Ortis HA, Geeding AA, Kaplan RM. Comparison of a single dose of moxidectin and a five-day course of fenbendazole to reduce and suppress cyathostomin fecal egg counts in a herd of embryo transfer-recipient mares. J Awm Vet Med Assoc 2014;245(8):944-951. *This study compared QUEST (moxidectin) Gel with Panacur Powerpac (fenbendazole). All trademarks are the property of Zoetis Services LLC or a related company or a licensor unless otherwise noted. Panacur is a registered trademark of Merck Animal Health. © 2016 Zoetis Services LLC. All rights reserved. QST-00032

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Retraining a Thoroughbred—No Shortcuts A trainer explains that while having a clear long-term goal is important, rushing to achieve it is not. By Tik Maynard


ohnny Manziel—aka Johnny Football—was the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, the Manning Award and the Davey O’Brien Notable Quarterback Award in 2012. A quarterback, he led Texas A&M to victory in the 2013 Cotton Bowl and went pro in the first round of the NFL draft. A year earlier, in 2011, a bay colt with three white socks and a star was born in Texas. The owners called him Johnny Football. It wasn’t long before the horse had his own Facebook page and fans. He made his career debut for native Texan Bill Casner at Saratoga Race Course. Johnny Football, the colt, didn’t find success as a racehorse, but last March Dr. Reed Zimmer, of Phoenix, Arizona, and I agreed to be co-owners and train Johnny for the 2016 Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover, Oct. 27–30, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. (Dr. Zimmer also was the one-time owner of Remarkable 54, with whom I won the freestyle division at the 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover.) “Johnny Football will be a special horse,” Dr. Reed told me in a conversation we had at the time. “He didn’t make it as a racehorse, but he could still be great.” Here are my thoughts about how I approached retraining Johnny.



With horses, figuring out what they’re good at is different. We decide for them. I don’t want to push my horses (or one day my kids) into a sport they don’t enjoy.

Tik Maynard works with two horses he is training for the 2016 Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover, Haxby Park (left) and Johnny Football.



A Clear Goal As I begin to work with Johnny (whom Dr. Reed already had a cowboy roping off of), I know that the stronger his training foundation, the higher he will go. I have an end goal in my mind that I go over and over, a crystal-clear thought. And then I rewind it and see it from another angle. The details become sharper. The understanding, greater. Then I rewind and start over again. And again. Only then do I start working with Johnny. And when I’m working with him, do I think about the end result? Nope. Never. I save that for in between sessions. Take riding cross country, for example. One day, is Johnny going to gallop around a four-star like the Rolex Kentucky ThreeDay Event in Lexington, Kentucky? Is he going to drop down a bank into water? I’ll assume he is. (I don’t want to assume the opposite, do I? That’s not a good place to start.) So to start Johnny’s education into water, I ride him up to a water jump at the walk. I let him stop whenever he feels comfortable. I add a little leg and I take it off when he looks at the water. Then I leave and do a little work elsewhere—maybe trot, canter transitions. When he is ready for a break, I take him back to the water and let him stand as close as he feels comfortable. If he looks away, I gently add leg or steer him toward the water. I release when he looks at the water. I give him a rub when he thinks about the water. I try to leave right before he wants to leave. The water becomes a place of rest. A place of curiosity. Johnny may not go through the water that first day, but it doesn’t matter. There’s no rush! I don’t want him just seeing the water, I want him looking at it, thinking about it. Later on, this patience will be rewarded when he can canter off a bank into water, neither speeding up nor slowing down. Sometimes this doesn’t happen until much later or much higher up on our journey, but it is always paid back. Another example of introducing a new concept to him is lying down. For this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover, I would like




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good at is different. We decide for them. Johnny to feel comfortable lying in the I don’t want to push my horses (or one middle of the Kentucky arena with peoday my kids) into a sport they don’t enple cheering and the music playing. And joy. And usually we enjoy something we I want him to enjoy it. To have a good are good at, something we are physically ol’ roll! And so I start at the beginning. and mentally suited for. I start taking him out to the field Life is hard enough without trying after I ride and hose him off, and I just to excel at something for which you walk around with him and let him dry have no aptitude. That said, it’s hard a little. His coat hardens as the water to disagree with the saying, “The only evaporates. Then I find a sandy spot. I let him look at it. Pretty soon his head is place aptitude comes before attitude is down and his nostrils are gently opening in the dictionary.” It is unfair to place our goals and deand closing. Then he paws the ground. sires on a horse who is unable to realize Soon he is turning like a dog circling them. For every example of somebody in his bed. And then when Johnny is taking a long shot of a itching to roll, I kneel horse and turning him in front of him and into the next top show give him a tap on the jumper or dressage shoulder. Whoops, horse, there are many down he goes! Gravexamples of horses beity at its finest. ing pushed too hard to Once he associates do something they are my kneeling with his not good at. I’m not rolling, I find different saying I would give up places and situations on a horse. I’m saying to ask him. I very I try to be very honest slowly increase his with myself about what comfort zone. I also my horse is suited for. start to ask him to stay In training Johnny Football, Tik Otherwise we can both lying down longer. l end up very frustrated. do that by giving him says, “As I begin to work with Johnny, I know that the stronger carrots or treats (I use his training foundation, the higher And in some equestrian sports, maybe hurt Enjoy Yums!) or feed- he will go. I have an end goal in my mind that I go over and over.” or killed. ing him dinner while What is Johnny going to be good he is lying down. at? Well, I’m not sure yet. He is gentle and quick-footed. He is not too tall and What He’s Good At not too small. He has a kind face and a I also want it clear in my mind what comfortable canter. He’s light on his feet Johnny Football is good at. The original and quick in his mind. We will have to Johnny grew up playing a variety of sports, including basketball, baseball, golf wait and see. I’ll try to steer him in the right direction. I’ll try to take my time and football. But it was not long before with him. He has a good attitude, and he concentrated on baseball and footfame is not going to go to his head. ball, and then strictly football. Johnny knew what he was good at and he went for it (though more recently, seemingly As press time, Tik Maynard was training two unable to handle fame, he’s been made more horses, Haxby Park and Commander, infamous by his arrests, the accusations in addition to Johnny Football for the 2016 of signing autographs for money, flipRetired Racehorse’s Thoroughbred Makeover. ping the bird, alcohol addiction and He could only compete two horses, so his fighting with his girlfriend). plan was to bring the three to Lexington and With horses, figuring out what they’re decide who to compete while there.





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Inside Your Ride

Pre-Ride Routines 101 Create personalized mental preparation strategies. By Tonya Johnston



t the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 a snowboarder by the name of Kate Hansen caught people’s attention with her pre-race dances. Wearing headphones and warm-up sweats, listening to a special Beyoncé playlist, she danced her way into her own personal performance zone. She radiated freedom, excitement and happiness to such an extent that it pumped you up even as you watched from your couch. It was tremendously inspiring to see someone so committed to her process and her knowledge of self. If you’re anything like me, those behind-the-scenes glimpses of athletes fascinate you. What happens before “go time”? How do they prepare for the biggest moments of their careers? Within any sport, you have probably seen an amazing variety of activities in preparation routines: athletes talking to themselves, doing elaborate stretching routines or sitting with their eyes closed with Zen-like stillness amid the pre-event bustle of competitors and attendees. Perhaps you have organized a pre-ride routine for yourself. Or there may be some things you do to prepare when you have time or when you remember to do them (more on that later). What types of activities help you get ready? Things like visualization, breathing techniques, a particular type of snack or spending quiet time with your horse? While there are certain specific types of mental skills that are valuable (such as reviewing your performance goals and managing your energy), let’s take this opportunity to step back and look at some of the themes that can best guide you in your preparation technique choices. Choosing activities that are creative

An equestrian mental-skills coach and A-circuit competitor, Tonya Johnston has a master’s degree in sport psychology. Her book, Inside Your Ride: Mental Skills for Being Happy and SucHorse, is available in paperback or e-book editions. For more info on Tonya’s work, go to www.TonyaJohn



cessful with Your

Three-time Paralympian Rebecca Hart has a personalized pre-ride routine that helps her create the mindset for a great ride.


and personal, that give you a sense of appreciation for the moment and help you stay committed to your process at every ride or show are at the top of the list.

Rebecca Hart: Inventive and Meaningful Preparation Rebecca Hart is a dressage rider who was born with a rare genetic disease called familial spastic paraplegia, which affects her muscles and joints and causes partial paralysis and severe spasms. She has been on three Paralympic teams (Beijing, London and Rio). She is also a six-time USEF ParaEquestrian national champion. This year, Rebecca decided to compete without stirrups to help limit spasticity in her legs. She is a phenomenally consistent, generous and committed competitor who competes all over the world in both para-equestrian and able-bodied horse shows. As you will see, Rebecca does a terrific job of preparing herself to ride her best; her strategies here throughout are original, productive and thought-provoking.

Creativity: It Only Needs to Make Sense To You “I have a very set [preparation] routine,” Rebecca says. “[For example] I have this little make-up compact that my sister turned into a magic ‘Equestrian Powerpack.’ I basically open it up, look at myself, make a funny face in the mirror and go to the ring. I’ve had it for 20 years, and it goes into my hatbox. I always carry it with me whether it’s a local show or a big international championship. “When I am over-thinking something or I am doing too much or I have a thought I need to get rid of, I call it ‘garbage-canning,’” Rebecca continues. “I make a little motion with my hand like I am putting the lid back on the garbage can. It’s my mental cue that means I don’t have to think about it anymore; it’s gone.” These examples are so wonderfully

personal, specific and pro-active. They help Rebecca establish positive energy and create the mindset for a great ride. Utilizing a healthy amount of creativity within your preparation routine is a terrific way to own the moment. It’s your way of taking back control over any pressure, environmental distractions or moments when you are feeling psychologically flat. Now take a moment to be openminded and think of ways to create some new aspects of your own pre-ride routine. Be imaginative, allow yourself to brainstorm additions to your pre-ride techniques while staying completely nonjudgmental. You aren’t like anyone else, you know yourself better than anyone else—there are no “shoulds” in this process—and it only needs to make sense to you. Singing loudly in the car for the last mile before you get to the barn? Great! Writing your goals for the day on a white board in your trunk? Fantastic! Saying a


funny word like “bumfuzzle” to make you laugh, smile and breathe? Awesome! Experiment in the next few weeks to find new ways to dial in to your performance zone.

Appreciation: Anchor Your Ride with Joy “[My Powerpack–funny–face routine] gives me the child-like wonder of when I originally started [competing],” Rebecca says. “It takes me back to when you didn’t even realize how hard it was to do this sport, you just did it because you loved it and because it was fun and it was amazing. It makes me happy and gives me the wonder and passion for the horse. It lets me relive that moment when I first touched a horse and it was so amazing and wonderful. Before it became a career and a job and an athletic pursuit, it was just fun. It does that for me.” Highlighting joy and acknowledging the wonderful opportunity of an upcoming ride will help to turn feelings of pressure or stress


into happiness and excitement. Using selftalk can help you visit those emotions, such as “I love riding _____ here at _______.” Or “Our partnership is amazing, what an awesome moment in time.” A motto or mantra like “This moment is golden” or “Forward with trust” can also serve to anchor this concept. Another idea is taking a deep breath with your eyes closed to soak in the moment with gratitude. Be imaginative. What kind of action, habit or moment can you create to generate appreciation as you get ready to ride or compete?

Commitment: Achieve Consistency with Flexibility “My routine is consistent for local shows or championships,” Rebecca says. “Listening to music, visualizing, deep belly breathing … . When I first started [my preparation routine] I would have [others on my team] explain ‘Oh, she’s just visualizing.’ Now,

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everyone knows that when the curtains are open my tack stall is inviting and friendly, come in, let’s hang out… When the curtains are closed, that is my outside signal that this is my space. [People are also aware] once I do my Powerpack silly face and leave to go to the arena that it is ‘don’t talk to me’ time … .” Whether you are at your Saturday lesson, your first clinic with a Big Name Trainer or your year-end championship show—your commitment to your preride routine is essential. The good news is that once you have put quality effort into developing your plan, you will actually look forward to it and rely on it to help get you comfortable and in the zone. Not only will the process be enjoyable, the product (your focus, state of mind, energy level, etc.) will be hugely beneficial to your ride. Please note that even as we discuss commitment to your pre-ride routine, there is assumed flexibility. The idea is to be so committed to your process that you will flex, bend and troubleshoot as necessary to make your routine fit into the window of time and availability that the situation allows. If you compete, it is perfectly fine to have a few different components of your routine for use at home versus at a show, but be aware of your themes and do your best to attend to them in each situation. At a show where you have more time, you may manage your energy with breathing techniques, music and exercise. At home for a lesson you may be on a tighter schedule but you still integrate these things into your routine in some manner. Remember, there is a lot written about the best sport-psychology techniques to use in pre-performance routines, but your ultimate guide is whether they help you own and appreciate the moment. Get inspired, keep an open mind, experiment and allow yourself to be innovative as you gather fresh ideas to help you get in the zone before each ride. You know yourself best—make sure to use that information for your and your horse’s benefit!


Kent Farrington was the topplacing American rider in the show jumping aboard Voyeur, finishing in fifth.




REBOUND Team USA medaled in every equestrian discipline at the 2016 Olympic Games. By Erin Gilmore n the run-up to South America’s first-ever Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, equestrian leaders within Team USA were determined not to let history repeat itself. After the crushing disappointment of the 2012 London Olympics, where the United States failed to medal in any equestrian discipline, all three sports returned to their respective drawing boards to put stronger plans in place. And what a difference four years make. By the time the United States arrived in Rio last August, it was with a full contingent of teams mounted on a depth of internationalcaliber horses who were ready to take on the world. By medaling in eventing, dressage and jumping, the U.S. team proved that it had recovered from the failure of London. While the gold medal remained elusive, U.S. riders proudly brought home team silver in jumping, team bronze in dressage and individual bronze in eventing. More so than perhaps any other recent Olympics,





ABOVE: Though they’d had near-perfect rounds all week in Rio, a single dropped rail during Round A of the individual final dashed McLain Ward’s hopes of a medal with Azur. LEFT: The French show-jumping team members celebrate their gold medals on the iconic Olympic rings. The team included (from left): Philippe Rozier, Kevin Staut, Penelope Leprevost and Roger Yves Bost. The victory was France’s first Olympic showjumping team gold medal in four decades.

these Games were plagued by problems that ran the gamut from health concerns to crime and ill-preparedness. But for all the negative press going into Rio, Brazil was a stellar host. “Contrary to the American press that we all heard about prior to Rio, they put on a magnificent Olympic Games against all odds,” said Chef d’Équipe Robert Ridland. At this level—when so many have their sights firmly focused on gold—plenty of riders left Rio with regrets over costly mistakes or frustrated by bad luck. What was done right? What could have been done better? Hindsight is 20/20, and in the wake of these dramatic and sometimes dangerous Games, there is much to reflect upon.

Proud of Jumping Silver With two Olympic first-timers and two decorated veterans on the jumping squad, 34

Team USA came to these Games among 15 strong nations as one of the favorites to medal. Easily, nine of those nations were medal contenders themselves, making competition stiff through up to seven rounds of jumping for team and individual medals. U.S. riders Kent Farrington, Lucy Davis, Beezie Madden and McLain Ward were as focused as a group as you could find at these Games. At the precompetition press conference, they shared the same buttoneddown, type A professionalism: They were in Rio to medal, and they achieved that goal when they captured Olympic team silver Aug.17, despite an unexpected hardship. “Having a gold medal was certainly what we wanted and we came close,” said Robert. “We had a little misfortune, and you never can time misfortune, but I doubt if you look back on history you certainly can’t find many teams who lost their anchor rider


on the final day and still medaled.” Beezie Madden has served as the team’s anchor rider for a dozen years, but after Round 2 in Rio, when she picked up an uncharacteristic 12 faults, it was revealed that her horse Cortes ‘C’ had been diagnosed with a minor, but Gamesending tendon injury. Team USA jumped the team final with their remaining three riders and no luxury of a drop score, and their five faults over the two rounds earned them the team silver medal. The U.S. finished just two faults behind the French, who persevered over many hardships of their own to win Olympic team gold. McLain had the tough assignment of jumping directly after the French rider who secured team gold, but knowing that the U.S. was still fighting for silver and a clear round was required to stay in the running, he kept his focus and delivered


ABOVE: Nick Skelton and Big Star secured the individual gold medal after a dramatic six-horse jump-off.

to a fence during the critical team final, she rode through it. While Lucy may not have been targeting an individual medal, McLain was. The 40-year-old two-time Olympic gold medalist (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008) made no secret of the fact that he was sitting on a horse with the rare ability to go the distance to capture the individual Olympic medal that had long-eluded his grasp. Azur has been touted as a phenomenon ever since McLain paired with the 10-year-old mare in early 2015. And with an incredible spring season that included victory in the CSIO***** Grand Prix of Rome in mid-May, McLain and Azur were favorites to medal. It wasn’t to be, however. Proving that the smallest tick of a rail can have monumental consequences, McLain and Azur got too close to the A element of the triple combination during Round A of the individual final. When that pole fell, it took their chances of medaling individually with it. Great Britain’s Nick Skelton and Big Star claimed individual RIGHT: British show gold after a rare six horse jump-off. jumper Nick Skelton is overcome with “The course emotion after winning was very rethe individual gold medal with Big Star. petitively testing

a big-strided horse because everything was short, short, short,” McLain said. “That was certainly a bit of a challenge for us and it was just one mistake too many.” However, the U.S. team can now point to a significant record of recent success. During three championships in the last three years—the 2014 World Equestrian


exactly that with Azur. “It just shows the character of our team,” Robert added. “To lose Beezie on the final day when it really counts was an adversity that the other riders had to deal with, and they dealt with it very well. There are going to be ups and downs and things that go on, but whether you weather the storm is based on how many boxes are checked off before you get there.” In his first Olympics, Kent had a nearflawless week at the reins of the 14-year-old KWPN gelding Voyeur. Robert selected him as the lead-off rider in each round of team jumping, and he more than fulfilled his role as pathfinder. Over five rounds of jumping, Voyeur never hit a rail and Kent qualified with five other pairs to jump off for individual medals. He finished in fifth as the top-placing American rider. “With Kent it made a whole lot of sense. He knows that horse, he’s battle-tested with that horse. We all decided it would be a good way to go,” Robert explained. Lucy and her horse Barron pulled their weight for the team as well. The 23-yearold was by far the youngest rider on Team USA, but she demonstrated her capacity for keeping her focus, and when Barron unexpectedly swerved left in the approach

LEFT: The U.S. show-jumping team (from left): Lucy Davis, Kent Farrington, McLain Ward and Beezie Madden stayed focused to clinch the silver medal, finishing just two faults behind France.


Games, 2015 Pan American Games (equal to its counterpart, the European Championships) and the 2016 Olympics—the United States is the only nation that has medaled in all three. With that milestone to point to, Robert comes away from Rio proud of his team and looking toward the future with renewed vigor.

Eventing’s Uplifting Individual Bronze

ABOVE: Phillip Dutton’s experience shone through in Rio, as he and Mighty Nice moved up to fifth after the tumultuous cross-country day. Ultimately, the pair took home the individual bronze medal after a dramatic final day of show jumping. TOP RIGHT: Eventing individual gold medalist Michael Jung (center), silver medalist Astier Nicolas (left) and bronze medalist Phillip Dutton (right) atop the podium BOTTOM RIGHT: Rio was an accommodating host and the U.S. equestrian teams had a successful trip, earning medals in all three disciplines.



Germany’s Michael Jung aside, you could rightly trace much of this year’s Olympic eventing success back to the nation of Australia. That said, for the United States, who has long embraced two Australian-born riders as its own, earning a step on the individual medal podium was a well-earned victory for the stars and stripes. Australia, in team-gold position after the cross-country phase, slipped a little during stadium jumping to claim team bronze. Four men under 30 years old were best to win team gold for France, and the German team won silver. Phillip Dutton won the first individual Olympic medal of his career by expertly navigating Mighty Nice through a spectacular dressage test, a smooth cross-country track and a strong day of stadium jumping over two separate rounds. “Phillip’s dressage has come on miles. He rode beautifully and his show


ABOVE: Astier Nicolas’s strong performance with Piaf De B’Neville earned him an individual silver medal and boosted his French team into gold-medal position. LEFT: Germany’s Michael Jung enjoys his moment in the spotlight with his long-time partner Sam FBW after claiming his second consecutive individual Olympic gold medal, adding to his historic record in the sport of eventing.

since Sydney in 2000, horses tired over the technical track with Boyd in particular counting his lucky stars that he was aboard a Thoroughbred with enough gas in the tank to gallop the 43-obstacle course. On a personal-best dressage score of 43.60, Phillip and Mighty Nice moved up to individual fifth place after cross country, adding just 3 time penalties to their score. “Basically, I think they were all com-

ever gone,” David added. “Both Boyd and Phillip had a personal best in dressage. So that’s the big thing. The team was really close. We missed by inches.” For Clark and Loughan Glen, who were coming off a stellar pre-Rio season with a second place at Bramham CIC*** and a win at Great Meadows CICO***– NC, retiring on cross country in Brazil was a big letdown. He

ones in

RIGHT: U.S. eventer Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery, an off-the-track Thoroughbred, had a successful week in Rio, finishing 16th individually.


jumping—with Richard [Picken’s] help— had a great composure and calmness to it,” said Chef d’Équipe David O’Connor. “That was what helped him keep climbing up, and no one deserves it more. No one has worked harder for it than he has.” At 52 years old, Phillip was the U.S. team’s oldest equestrian competitor and was also the top-finishing American over all three disciplines. His teammate and fellow Aussie expat Boyd Martin finished individually in 16th aboard the off-the-track Thoroughbred Blackfoot Mystery. Phillip had previously medaled in the Olympics for Australia but never individually and never for the U.S. His individual bronze was a needed boost for Team USA after a disappointing cross-country phase cut the team down by half. Neither Clark Montgomery nor Lauren Kieffer completed cross country, ending the USA’s chance to medal as a team. With 14 eliminations on course and riders openly expressing that the cross country was a legitimate four-star track, the likes of which hadn’t been seen in an Olympics


MIDDLE: The American flag adorned the saddle pad of U.S. dressage team rider Steffen Peters. RIGHT: Laura Graves hugs Verdades after a personal-best score of 80.64 earned the U.S. dressage team a bronze medal.

pulled up and retired after refusals on course. Shortly after the Games, Loughan Glen underwent surgery for a bone chip in his knee. And Lauren popped off Veronica at a tall upright gate at Fence 24 after attempting the direct option from a solid cabin fence at 23. “She just kind of hit that gate with her right front,” Lauren explained. “My job was to get a clean round, so it’s pretty disappointing to let the team down.” “Lauren’s cross-country ride was almost immaculate, but she got the inside of a line and paid a big price for it,” David said. “You can look back on a decision about that right, left and center [of the fence] 100 times, and those are the ones that will stay with you for awhile. But I don’t second-guess her decision there.” In the stadium jumping, Blackfoot 38



LEFT: U.S. dressage team members (from left): Kasey Perry-Glass, Allison Brock and Steffen Peters cheer after anchor rider Laura Graves finished her test, giving the team its first medal in 12 years.

Mystery tired and had three fences down in Round B. But he was the greenest horse on Team USA, and Boyd was proud of his effort. Just ahead of Phillip in individual silver position, Astier Nicolas on Piaf De B’Neville became a double Olympic medalist; his efforts helped the young team from France claim team gold. For Michael Jung of Germany, the stadium jumping looked to be merely a warm-up. He jumped two clean rounds with Sam FBW to claim his second consecutive individual Olympic gold medal, adding to his unmatched record in the sport of eventing. Michael was the only rider at these Olympics to finish on his dressage score, and during the medal ceremony, a fresh and hyper Sam appeared ready to do it all over again.

Team Bonding for Dressage Bronze Team USA’s Dressage Chef d’Équipe Robert Dover spent the last three years


pointing his riders toward success in South America. In previous championships, without strong horsepower or a dedicated focus on competing in Europe, American dressage riders had fallen far behind their international counterparts. In Rio, Robert was determined to end the drought in dressage medals that had stretched over the last two Olympic Games. It worked. Perhaps even more than winning the team bronze medal, the American dressage riders will be remembered for their team spirit. They took “all for one, one for all” to a new level, beginning mornings with a group hug and running arm in arm to meet anchor rider Laura Graves at the in-gate after she finished her medal-winning test. “I have been on a lot of teams, probably 11, and I would say that this team rivals the camaraderie of the very best teams I’ve been on,” Robert said. “They are like a family. They live together, eat together and care about each other so much. They care about the success of each other and they take care of each other when things aren’t good. That’s what’s so wonderful about them.” Laura, Allison Brock, Kasey Perry-Glass and Steffen Peters moved as a unit throughout the summer, when for three months they based themselves in Europe during a pre-Olympics boot camp. Their strong performances at Rotterdam CDIO***** and Roosendal CDI**** served as the perfect lead-up to Rio. Not to mention, there was also Team USA’s win of the inaugural FEI Nations Cup Dressage Series in July. While it was never going to be the year


into the 90s on the last day of competition. And during the opening day’s Grand Prix and following the Grand Prix Special, constant gunfire from military live-fire exercises could be heard outside the arena (similar gunfire was heard during the show-jumping individual final). Equestrian sports were held within the Deodoro military complex, and while the sound of gunfire was unsettling to some horses, the show went on unimpeded. While the medals were still hanging around his riders’ necks, Robert was quick to look toward the future of U.S. dressage. Building more depth on the lower end of

RIGHT: Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro successfully defended their title, taking home their second straight Olympic individual gold medal as well as a team silver medal in dressage.

the pyramid looms large on his plan, and while he wouldn’t say if he’d remain at the helm as chef during the next Olympic rotation, there’s no doubt that his commitment to U.S. dressage is unwavering. “I believe, honestly, that in the next two years you will see America take another higher podium,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen in the years to come because of the depth of great up-and-coming Grand Prix horses that are just starting out right now. In the next four years, I think they will give any country in the world a very strong fight for the gold.”


that any nation broke RIGHT: through the stronger-than- Isabell Werth of Germany ever German grasp on and Weihegold Olympic team gold, the OLD won the United States put in deindividual finitive tests to claim team silver medal. bronze behind Great Britain’s team silver. And it saw Allison, Steffen and Laura all qualify for the medal-deciding Individual Grand Prix Freestyle. In his fourth Olympic Games, Steffen was the veteran of the group and somewhat of a pathfinder. He drew first in the order of go in the Individual Freestyle on the final day of competition and came out of the arena smiling after a successful week. Steffen and Legolas finished 12th individually. Allison and Rosevelt finished their first Olympics inside the top 15. “I wish I could put into words how much winning the team bronze medal means to me and also how much it means to me how well Legolas did here,” Steffen said. “We delivered for the team. That was my goal, and that’s what we did.” For Laura, star of the U.S. dressage team with Verdades, these first Olympics were an unforgettable success. As the United States’ highest-performing rider, she earned three, career-best scores during the week. She finished fourth individually, just barely off the individual medal podium. The degree of difficulty in her Freestyle included two-tempis on a half circle in both directions that led straight into one-tempi changes. They were risky moves, but she was comfortable to make them: “Verdades is really honest, so the degree of difficulty is something I can play with,” she said. “We did [the two-tempis] twice to show that it’s not just luck.” The four-day Olympic dressage competition had its fair share of elements to contend with. Despite it being winter in Brazil, temperatures soared


‘HUNTER PUISSANCE’ Some of the nation’s top riders faced down barnyard critters,125 tons of sand and a massive wall during the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. By Tricia Conahan Q Photos by Tricia Booker magine this: You canter into the stadium under the bright lights in front of more than 1,000 cheering spectators and attempt to navigate a tricky handyhunter course of 11 fences, ranging in height from 3-foot to 4-foot-9, plus an imposing final wall. For even the most experienced professional rider it’s a big night, a big deal and a big challenge. But for Kristy Herrera, the winner of this year’s United States Hunter Jumper Association International Hunter Derby Championship at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, the challenge was especially daunting. Her mount, Helen Lenahan’s Miss Lucy, was a catch-ride Trainer Jennifer Alfano stands next to the handywhom Kristy had been riding for only two weeks. hunter round’s final fence, a An experienced horse, Miss Lucy had been a win5-foot-1½-inch-tall wall. Miss ning staple on the derby circuit with rider and trainer Lucy’s usual rider, Jennifer, Jennifer Alfano in the saddle. And Jennifer had won had to sit out this year’s competition because of an the 2012 derby championship with Jersey Boy, so she injury, so her former student was no stranger to the class. But in May, Jennifer badly Kristy Herrera (red coat) rode injured herself in a fall at the Devon Horse Show, trigthe chestnut mare. gering several months of surgery and recovery time. When she couldn’t make the championship trip on Miss Lucy herself, she wanted her former student to ride the talented but particular chestnut mare. “It would have been hard to hand the reins over if it was anybody other than Kristy,” Jennifer explained. “We have a longstanding relationship, so that makes it easier. It was important that Kristy and I are so close. Since she didn’t know the horse, she had to put her trust in me.”




This year’s USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship winner Kristy Herrera approached the turn to Fence 2 slowly so she and Miss Lucy could come forward out of it, making the long seven strides to Fence 3 easier.

That confidence paid off when Kristy successfully hand-galloped the 14-year-old mare to the handy round’s final fence, a cordwood wall set at 5-feet-1½ inches tall. The pair won the 2016 championship with a composite score of 587 compiled over the two days of competition, edging out Kelley Farmer’s ride, Kodachrome, by five points. The championship is the culmination of more than 70 derby events during the year and includes both a classic and a handy round. This year, 40 of the 66 horses competing in the championship advanced to the handy round held on Saturday night, Aug. 20, at the Sheila C. Johnson Arena. Six judges in three judging panels of two



8 7


scored each horse-and-rider pair. Riders received an extra point from each panel for each high fence option that was taken. Each panel could also award up to 10 bonus points per rider based on the handiness of the trip. The composite score from both the classic and handy rounds determined the final placements. The tracks for the derby championship were crafted by course designers Danny Moore and Bobby Murphy, who wanted to deliver a traditional hunter course that would still provide enough technical difficulty to separate the field. Despite the handy course’s tight turns and hefty high options, Kristy said she felt confident on Miss Lucy because “there is nothing you can’t point her at. She is an amazing horse. All the scope and power is there. I just mostly tried to leave her alone and trust that she

6 Option

No High Option

6 1 Option

Hand Gallop #11

1 11 Option 3

11 Trot

5 4







ABOVE: Fence 3 was flanked on the right by a sand sculpture of the USHJA logo. LEFT: A sand sculpture depicting a cow peeking out of a barn sat between the high and low options of Fence 6. Course designers Bobby Murphy and Danny Moore included 10 custom-built sand sculptures as part of the championship’s fence design.

has the scope, that you can just canter on a loose rein up to an enormous jump and she takes care of it.” Judge Tom Brennan said that Kristy and Miss Lucy were “consistently excellent” throughout the championship weekend and that their overall performance snagged them the championship. “Miss Lucy was extremely competitive in the handy, but where she won the championship was her consistency over the two days,” Tom Kristy jumped explained. “She was the high option handy enough to be (4-feet-9-inches) of competitive with the Fence 4, a 4-footbonus points but not wide oxer with natural rails. the handiest. Where


she really beat the field was a steady and consistent performance with some risks. The mare jumped very well. She jumped over and over in the same correct style that we were looking for. There really wasn’t anything you could fault her on.” Here is a fence-by-fence breakdown of the handy round, including Kristy’s thoughts on how she navigated this challenging course as well as some commentary from Jennifer—an understandably nervous coach and spectator.

Fence 1: Picket Gate and Hedge Height: High option on right, 4 feet 7 inches; low option on left, 3 feet 10 inches


Construction: A vertical with brush racks set behind a white picket gate. Each option was 18 feet across (from left to right) and the brush rack was 16 inches deep. Course Designer Notes: The riders cantered into the center of the ring and turned back to Fence 1, heading toward the grandstand. More ground lines had been added to this fence after the classic round because some horses were struggling to jump it in good form. “We were looking for the horses to jump this beautifully,” Bobby said. “There was no rail to be knocked down. It was the centerpiece of the ring and the horses were saying, ‘Hello, I am here to start my course.’” By design, both options of the first fence could be reached off either the right or left lead. “This course was about equality,” Bobby said. “We wanted horses that favored either lead to have an equal start.” Kristy: The most important thing Jen said to me was to ride this like a first round and turn tighter. That was helpful as sometimes I can get over-ambitious in handy rounds and try too hard. I was nervous but also confident in Lucy. So I walked in and said to myself “Come on, we can do this.” The first thing was to just pick up a good gallop. Galloping is part of being handy so I was just trying to show off going forward. I had to slow into that turn

and the distance came up a bit short, but Lucy is so good at making room that it worked out really well. I jumped the first jump and knew we were good. That was a pretty big gate. It was an amazing feeling in the air and the first high option. It went so well that it gave me confidence and allowed me to start thinking ahead. Jennifer: We went over the course— about a hundred times—and then I said, “Good luck and have fun.” I just wanted it to go well, be fun for Kristy, but I was pretty nervous. I was a little beside myself. I am not a very good spectator. I was pacing up and down. And believe me, I jumped every jump with her. Kristy follows instructions incredibly. Everything I said to do she executed. Once she started out, I was worried about the turn from Fence 1 to 2—it was tight. Lucy is big and long and she turns like a school bus. Once she got through that turn and to Fence 2, I had a good feeling about it.

Fences 2 and 3: Oxer to Vertical Height: Both fences in the seven-stride line were set at 3 feet 10 inches. Construction: Fence 2 was an oxer framed by large white columns. It included three sections of brush rack, a white Riviera gate in front and double rails in the back. Fence 3 was the first sand sculpture fence: a vertical bridge of brush flanked by sand sculptures of a blue ribbon and the USHJA logo. Course Designer Notes: This fence required a tight right turn inside Fence 11 to get straight for the line, which headed away from the in-gate. “Fence 2 was just a beastier version of Fence 1,” Bobby said. “We just wanted to get the horses adjusted. But the distance of 103 feet from oxer to vertical created a technicality for them to ride. The horses needed to be athletic to make that inside turn.” Kristy: You had to approach that turn strategically because the oxer was wide and the line was angled over to the right. If you cut the turn, you were going to be heading to the left and it would make the line lon-

Setting a New Standard With the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association International Hunter Derby program heading into its eighth year, course designer Bobby Murphy wanted to shake things up a little bit. “There has always been a saying in this industry that the hunters don’t jump that big,” Bobby said, referencing the aggressive high options and the daunting 5-foot-1½-inch wall in this year’s championship handy round. “But there needs to be a time when the hunters are challenged. The wall was a big jump. And that jump is the moment that the hunters proved their equality with the jumpers.” In addition, Bobby and co-designer Danny Moore set a new derby standard for creativity by including 10 unique, custom-built sand sculptures as part of the fence design. “I saw the idea in 2010 for the World Equestrian Games here in Lexington. Joseph-Beth Booksellers had a huge sand sculpture that represented all the disciplines of the WEG. That is the moment that the idea began to brew in my mind,” Bobby said. Team Sandtastic out of Sarasota, Florida, built the sand sculptures using more than 125 tons of sand and more than 20 gallons of glue. “The logistics were a lot more than I anticipated,” Bobby admitted. “I thought we would put plastic down, dump some sand and carve some sculptures. But it was a lot more difficult than that. Plus we had weather to deal with. A Kentucky storm coming through and [show manager] Hugh Kincannon and [my father] Rob Murphy had a 20-man team putting tents up to protect it. It was a wild ride.” The course construction was “large scale” and a secondary team worked through the wee hours of the night throughout derby week to pull it together, Bobby said. The team even built a small jump (Fence 8) out of sand—a first for the derby program. And in a return to tradition, this year they added in a hand-gallop and a trot fence, which had been missing from the championship course for several years. That was a request from Ron Danta, head of the USHJA International Hunter Derby Committee, who wanted to ensure that the novel course design still reflected the history of the hunter sport. This year’s challenging course had been a “steppingstone” for the derby program, Bobby said, adding that in 2017 the riders can expect 4-foot-3inch and 4-foot-6-inch-high options in the quest to have a derby horse get a perfect score. “I think we wrote the perfect script with this course. But it doesn’t always have to be a hunter puissance,” Bobby said. “For 2017, it’s not about a big wall. It’s about a perfect score.”

ger. I tried to approach the turn slowly so I could come forward out of it. Miss Lucy jumped it so well going over the oxer, it helped going down the seven easily.

Fence 4: Natural Rail Oxer Height: High option on left, 4 feet 9 inches; low option on right, 3 feet 9 inches Construction: An oxer of natural rails set on an angle heading toward the

in-gate. A sand sculpture depicting the Chicago Hunter Derby in the front and a fox-and-hound scene in the back sat between the high and low options. The high option had a 4-foot spread and was 12 feet across, the low option had a 3-foot-9 spread and was 16 feet across. Course Designer Notes: A handy left turn to the angled oxer. The narrower high option was on the left, making the turn more challenging. “At this point in



That fence didn’t bother me. It was easy to jump the day before and there was lots of brush on it. And Lucy jumps all the jumps pretty much the same, so you just have to hang on for the air time. Jennifer: I was really confident at that point because things were going so beautifully. Kristy really is a thinker when she rides. It was all coming together.

Fence 7: Kentucky Racetrack

the course, we needed to turn left,” Bobby said. “And we decided to go with rails, so in the end we added an additional rail to make this fence look more solid.” This was one of the total of three oxers on the course required by U.S. Equestrian Federation rules. Kristy: For the entire turn, I had to think about getting to the base of the fence because it was a big oxer that some horses had had trouble with. But it came up nicely out of stride. She jumped the hell out of it. I just grabbed braids and was able to stay on. I landed and heard someone whistle. Then I had to stay centered and make the next turn to the trot jump.

The rustic log trot fence was borrowed from the Kentucky Horse Park’s cross-country course.

Fence 5: Trot Fence Height: 3 feet Construction: A natural log. Spread was approximately 2 feet 6 inches to 3 feet, slightly narrower in the center. Course Designer Notes: This rustic log was borrowed from the cross-country course on the other side of the Kentucky Horse Park. Bobby called its placement “a fitting place for the trot fence because the rollback allowed time for the riders to adjust to handle the trot.” Kristy: Jen and I talked about getting pretty straight to this. It was a solid fence being a log and a little wide so you couldn’t angle it. But Lucy is such a good trot jump44

er. She so politely stepped over it like it was a crossrail. That made the landing so nice so we could go forward to the next jump.

Fence 6: Classic Log Aiken Height: High option on right, 4 feet 9 inches; low option on left 3 feet 8 inches Construction: This imposing yet traditional log-and-brush fence was named “Danny and Bobby’s Barnyard” in honor of the course designers and the sand sculpture between the options which depicted a cow peeking out of a barn. It was composed of long stacked logs with brush ramped against the fence on the approach. The short logs on top of the fence were cut in 2-foot sections and set in a shallow trough so that they would roll off if clipped. On the landing side, cutout figures of a opossum, chickens and a fox hiding in a tree added to the theme. Course Designer Notes: Turning right after the trot fence, riders cantered across the top of the arena to ride either option of Fence 6, which was set on an angle. This fence had a vertical plane but it rode more like a triple bar due to the brush leading up to the log, Bobby said. “We were looking for the rider to just drop the reins and ride up to the base of that fence.” Kristy: At that point, I was halfway through the course. I always try to break up a course and think about it in pieces. So I was starting over, I had to gear up again after the trot fence.


Height: 3 feet 10 inches on both sides Construction: A pair of inviting verticals with a 3-foot hedge spread. This fence mimicked a racetrack rail and was made of hedge, brush and a row of hollies. The standards were Churchill Downs spires, and the sand sculpture between the fences honored Triple Crown champion American Pharoah. Course Designer Notes: A quick right turn to pick either the right or left side of this fence but no height option. Riders had lots of room to negotiate the correct angle to set up the rollback to Fence 8, as both sides were 20 feet across. Kristy: I jumped the fence on the right because it was the handiest approach and it also made a nicer and handier turn to the sand jump (Fence 8). The track always affects distance so as I was coming into the jump, I saw the distance nicely and could keep on that angle.

Fence 8: Sand Fence Height: 3 feet 8 inches Construction: A unique vertical made of packed sand with a 3-inch foam topper covered in artificial grass. Course Designer Notes: The week before the derby, the media were invited to view the ongoing construction of the sand sculptures in the arena. “Somebody asked me if the horses were actually going to jump the sand,” Bobby said. “And I said, ‘Yes they are.’ So I locked myself into this concept and I knew we had to do it.” While the sand fence was cured with glue, it would likely not survive a major misstep from one of the horses. “We took a lot of precautions to make it work,” Bobby said. “But I told everyone, ‘Don’t crash through

this fence because there is going to be a picture of it in the media for sure.’” Kristy: I was a little bit patient out of the turn, but Lucy can jump from a standstill, so I was still able to keep her together. I guess it was lucky that I went late in the class and nobody had ruined the fence. It was just a neat turn to the fence.

Fences 9 and 10: Wagon Wheel In-and-Out Height: Fence 9 (the vertical in) was 3-foot-9 with a single rail sitting atop a roll top with a 3-foot spread. Fence 10 (the oxer out) was 3-foot-9 with a 3-foot-9 spread from rail to rail. Construction: Grass walls with natural birch poles on top. The vertical in was 12 feet across (left to right), the oxer out was 16 feet across. Flanked by 6-foot-tall wagon-wheel standards. Course Designer Notes: The riders cantered away from the sand fence and

faced a tight rollback to the right, directly to this challenging two-stride combination. It was set long at 39 feet. “This combination was the final test of the scope of the horse,” Bobby said. “They rolled back to it, and the distance was long so it created a strategic challenge. We wanted them to show that athletic ability and scope and canter through the in-and-out with pace and brilliance.” Kristy: I saw it ride long for other people so I wanted to be straight. As I was heading to the in-and-out, I said to myself aloud, “Just keep it together.” Probably the judges heard me. I just tried to stay out on the turn and gear back up, and I caught it forward coming out of the turn. From some of the pictures I’ve seen, Lucy’s best jump was the out.

Fence 11: Hand-Gallop To the Wall Height: High-option wall, 5 feet 1½ inches; separate low-option fence, 3 feet 9 inches

Construction: Designed to look like a resting horse, the wall was made out of cordwood blocks, brush and artificial turf. The horse head was 10 feet 6 inches tall, and the entire face of the fence was 28 feet across (left to right) with the jumpable portion being 14 feet across. Including the brush and hedges on the approach to the wall, the spread was approximately 5 feet. The low option for Fence 11 was a separate serpentine ivy wall topped with blocks set on a separate track about 20 feet to the right of the wall. Course Designer Notes: The front of the wall was banked with greenery to make it “as inviting as a fence can be,” Bobby said. “Even though it was a wall, it was a triple bar and it jumped that way. Those riders could go right up to the base. “The thing about that wall, it was an optional fence,” Bobby added, noting that almost all the 25 riders in the championship final chose the high option on Fence

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way I wanted, I could still move up but it wasn’t too long. At that point I didn’t know I was winning until the score came up. I’ve learned not to think about winning when I’m in the ring because then I forget to think about riding. Winning doesn’t happen until the whole course is finished. It was pretty big to hear everyone in the grandstand yelling. When we landed, I was so relieved that I did what I was there for. I was trying to do the course one jump at a time, not rush Lucy and let her perform like she knows how. She is such a professional at that class. I knew if I put her in the right position, it would work out. Jennifer: I almost couldn’t even watch the last jump. I’d look away, then look back. Honestly, if I was on a catch-ride there is no way I would have cantered down to that jump. Kristy rode it perfectly, just like it was another jump … no speed up, no slow down, just galloped down and

Kristy didn’t look at Fence 11, the last jump of the course, until seven or eight strides before it in order to avoid finding a toolong distance.

rode it out of stride. Once she cleared the wall, I was hysterical, screaming and crying. It was really a special moment.


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11. “It was actually less inviting to jump the curved serpentine wall than to jump the big horse wall. We didn’t put as much ground line there. Using the serpentine, the rider had to pick a point on the fence, look straight through the horse’s ears and pick a spot, keep straight and hope that they didn’t have a block down.” Kristy: I really wasn’t intimidated by the height of the last jump, and Jen told me it was my only option on Lucy. When we walked the course I just thought it was about the height of the grand prix jumps I’ve gotten to do this summer, and knowing Lucy’s scope, I was really confident about it. I tried to show the hand gallop early, then balance. I have a tendency to let my eye get long when the jump is far away. So I didn’t look at that wall until I was seven or eight strides out, just so I wouldn’t look too early and get desperate to it. Luckily it just came up exactly the



UNDERSTANDING Ulcers can be a common problem for many horses, especially those with active careers. Learn how to recognize the signs, treat the symptoms and keep this problem from recurring. By Elaine Pascoe with Frank Andrews, DVM, MS, DAVIM, LVMA

our horse used to scour his feed bucket clean at every meal, but now he picks at his grain. He’s dropped a little weight, too. He acts resentful when you tack him up and he’s sluggish when you ride. What’s his problem? While any number of issues could cause those worrisome signs, stomach ulcers are high on the list. Stomach (gastric) ulcers are surprisingly common in horses and they’ve been linked to everything from poor performance to colic. But a better understanding of how and why horses get ulcers has brought advances in treating and managing the problem. In this article, Frank Andrews, DVM, MS, DAVIM, helps bring you up to date. A leading equine-ulcer researcher, Dr. Andrews is a professor and director of the Equine Health Studies Program at Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and serves on the Equine Committee of the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association. The stomach isn’t the only part of the horse’s digestive system that can



Large grade 3/3 ulcers in the nonglandular stomach at the greater curvature. Horses with severe ulcers can show no clinical signs or can show signs of slow eating, poor appetite, lethargy and colic.



develop ulcers. Hindgut (or colonic) ulcers are less common than gastric ulcers, Dr. Andrews says, but they can cause serious problems. See the box on page 52.

Gastric ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach. In horses they were a hidden problem—quite literally—before the late 1980s, when development of the gastric endoscope allowed veterinarians to peer directly into the stomach. The scope revealed that gastric ulcers are much more common in horses than in humans, affecting up to 90 percent of racehorses and more than half of sporthorses. Equine ulcers differ from human ulcers in several important ways. Infection with Helicobacter bacteria often triggers gastric ulcers in people, but so far there’s no evidence of this in horses, Dr. Andrews says. Instead, lifestyle seems to be a major factor. The routines and feeding regimens



Horses are grazers by nature and their digestive systems aren’t designed for an intermittent feeding schedule, therefore the less access they have to pasture, the more likely they are to develop gastric ulcers.

you impose on your horse can conflict with the way his digestive system works. Here’s why: Your horse is a grazer, and his digestive system is built to handle a steady intake of forage. His stomach constantly produces acidic digestive juices—more than six cups an hour. Chewed

forage arrives in the stomach mixed with saliva, which contains acid-buffering bicarbonates. As long as he’s grazing, his intake soaks up the juices and keeps acid levels in check. Your stomach, in contrast, is a batch processor—acid production ramps up at




More than half of sporthorses, especially those in high levels of training, suffer from gastric ulcers, which are sores in the lining of the stomach.


ABOVE: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be a contributing factor to the development of equine gastric ulcers, especially when they’re used long-term. LEFT: Horses who trailer have a higher risk of developing ulcers due to the stress of travel and the horse’s decreased intake of feed and water.

mealtime and falls off in between. Your stomach also has a protective mucous lining called the glandular mucosa, which shields it from acids. Your horse has that type of lining only in the lower part of his stomach, while the lining in the upper (squamous or nonglandular) part is not so well protected. About 80 percent of gastric ulcers in adult horses occur in this upper region and exposure to acid is the main cause.

face the highest ulcer risks. What’s in his bucket? High-starch grains and concentrates like sweet feed may increase stomach acidity. These feeds contain soluble carbohydrates that are converted to simple sugars. Bacteria normally present in the stomach ferment these sugars and produce volatile fatty acids (VFAs) and other byproducts that can work with stomach acids to damage the stomach lining. Adding to the problem, a horse that gets big rations of concentrates is less likely

glandular mucosa. What’s his travel schedule? Shipping increases the likelihood and severity of gastric ulcers. Several factors may be involved, including the stress of transport and the fact that horses consume less water and feed on the road. What’s his stress level? Stress makes gastric ulcers more likely. Horses can be stressed by illness, pain, training demands, shipping and sources you may not be aware of. For many horses daily life is

WHO’S AT RISK? Horses of any age and any breed can develop ulcers, Dr. Andrews says, but some horses are more likely than others to be plagued by this problem. Answering six questions will help you assess your horse’s risk: How much time does he spend at pasture? The less access a horse has to pasture, the more likely he is to develop gastric ulcers. That’s because his system isn’t designed for an intermittent feeding schedule and his stomach acid levels rise quickly without a steady intake of forage and acidbuffering saliva. How hard—and how often—does he work? There’s a direct link between exercise levels and risk of gastric ulcers. This may be partly because the stomach is compressed during exercise, so acidic juices are more likely to contact the unprotected upper walls. Researchers have also found that stomach acidity increases when horses run on a treadmill. This helps explain why horses in racing and high-level training 50


Because a horse’s lifestyle plays such a big role in triggering ulcers, management is vital in dealing with the problem. Simple changes in your horse’s diet and routine can improve healing.

to nibble forage between feedings. What’s in his medicine chest? Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as phenylbutazone (bute) and flunixin megulamine (Banamine®) can contribute to ulcers, generally when they’re given at high doses or over a long time. NSAIDs work by inhibiting a group of body chemicals, prostaglandins. Some prostaglandins are involved in inflammation, but others help protect the stomach lining by inhibiting acid production and encouraging production of protective mucus. If those “good” prostaglandins are blocked, ulcer risk increases. In particular, Dr. Andrews says, these drugs have been linked to ulcers in the normally protected


stressful, although it may not seem that way to you. Horses evolved living in herds, constantly grazing and moving freely from place to place. Stress from confinement and lack of social contact with other horses may help explain why horses that are stalled are more likely to develop ulcers than horses at pasture. Some horses handle these stresses better than others, so temperament is also a factor.

WHAT YOU’LL SEE How will you know if your horse develops gastric ulcers? The signs can be frustratingly vague and they vary from horse to horse. You may notice:



Signs of hindgut ulcers can include weight loss and a lackluster coat.

Hindgut ulcers—lesions that develop in the large colon—can have a big impact on your horse’s health. They’re less common than gastric ulcers, but they’re trickier to diagnose and treat. Any horse can get hindgut ulcers, but certain factors increase the risk: Q long-term treatment with NSAIDs (especially phenybutazone). This is probably the most common trigger.

Q stress Q dehydration Q for broodmares, an intensive breeding or pregnancy schedule or a postpartum uterine infection. As with gastric ulcers, the signs are often vague. You may see intermittent colic or diarrhea, lack of appetite or dramatic weight loss, a dull coat, lethargy or swelling (edema). The swelling occurs as proteins leak from blood through the horse’s inflamed gut wall. Some of these proteins help maintain



the balance of fluids in blood, and their loss allows fluid to seep from the blood vessels into surrounding tissues. Fluid buildup then creates swelling under the horse’s skin, in the legs and even around the lungs. There are no definitive tests for hindgut ulcers, but these can provide clues: Q Blood tests may show low protein concentrations (especially low levels of albumin) and sometimes other abnormalities, such as anemia. Q An ultrasound scan of the right dorsal colon may reveal thickening and swelling due to inflammation. Q Fecal tests can reveal occult blood, which could be a sign of gastric or colonic ulcers. However, a negative test doesn’t rule out either condition. Q Gastroscopy can be done to detect

gastric ulcers, which often produce similar signs. A horse may have both types of ulcers at the same time. The first step in treatment is to remove the cause. Stop NSAIDs, back off intensive training and other sources of stress and provide plenty of clean water at all times as well as a free-choice mineral/salt mix, to ensure that the horse stays hydrated. Acid-blocking drugs like omeprazole are not as helpful for hindgut ulcers as they are for gastric ulcers, but your veterinarian may suggest other medications. For example, sucralfate can coat the gut wall, giving colonic ulcers a chance to heal. Synthetic prostaglandins such as misoprostol (Cytotec®) may be helpful, Dr. Frank Andrews says. “Colonic

ulcers might be caused by a depletion or blockade [through stress or the use of NSAIDs] of the good prostaglandins which help protect the colon,” he explains. Misoprostol has been shown to help dogs and humans and it may do the same for horses. Changes in the horse’s feeding program can promote healing, too. Talk to your veterinarian about: Q Restricting or eliminating hay. Less bulk and abrasiveness eases digestion in the colon while the ulcers heal. Your horse still needs fiber, though. Provide it by switching him to a pelleted complete feed with an alfalfa base containing at least 30 percent fiber. Make the change gradually and reintroduce hay as he recovers. Q Adding psyllium. Supplements con-

taining psyllium musilloids lubricate the colon and keep things moving along. They can also help reduce inflammation in your horse’s colon. Q Adding omega fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids promote healing. Provide up to a cup a day of corn, flaxseed, safflower or canola oil mixed with feed. Q Adding a supplement with ingredients that encourage hindgut health. For example, yeast extracts are thought to support beneficial bacteria in the hindgut, and amino acids such as glutamine and threonine are thought to support a healthy mucous lining throughout the digestive tract. Follow-up blood work and other tests will help your veterinarian track your horse’s recovery.

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An endoscopic exam, a gastroscopy, performed by your veterinarian is the best way to discover if your horse might have gastric ulcers.


Q He loses his appetite. He eats slowly and leaves food in the bottom of his bucket. Q He loses weight and suddenly develops a poor coat. Q He spends more time lying down. Q He stretches often to urinate, a possible sign of gastric discomfort. Q He colics. Recurrent colic, mild or severe, is common with gastric ulcers. Q His manner changes. He develops a sour attitude in work or seems dull and lethargic. Q His performance level slips. All these signs can be produced by other problems and many of them are subtle. In fact, a horse with a high tolerance for pain may show few signs. So how can you find out for certain if your horse has gastric ulcers? Gastroscopy—an endoscopic exam—is the only way. This procedure may require a trip to a clinic that has the flexible 3-meter fiberoptic scope used for the exam, Dr. Andrews says, although some veterinarians have portable units for


on-farm use. The veterinarian inserts the scope into the horse’s nostril, down his esophagus and into the stomach. If ulcers are present, their severity can be rated on a standard scale. That will give the vet a point of reference for follow-up exams. The good news is that ulcers are usually treatable. Medication and management are the keys.

MEDICATION The ulcer medications most used for horses work by blocking production of stomach acids, giving the ulcers a chance to heal. Omeprazole, the active ingredient in GastroGard® for horses and Prilosec for people, is the drug of choice, Dr. Andrews says. It’s a proton-pump inhibitor, meaning that it blocks the mechanism through which the stomach produces acid. It’s given once a day in an oral paste, at a dosage rate of 4 milligrams per kilogram, for up to four weeks.


from horse to horse, Dr. Andrews says. He adds that another histamine blocker, cimetidine (Tagament®), has not proved effective in treating ulcers in horses, so it’s not recommended. What about over-the-counter antacids such as magnesium hydroxide, aluminum hydroxide (Maalox®) and calcium carbonate? These drugs neutralize rather than suppress stomach acid. They can help, but they’re not widely used in horses for practical reasons. It takes about a cupful of an extra-strength oral antacid (such as Maalox Therapeutic Strength®) to lower a horse’s stomach acid for a few hours, researchers have found, and that massive dose would have to be given four times a day to combat ulcers. Good luck getting the horse to cooperate. Acid-blocking drugs are effective for the most common ulcers—those in the upper, nonglandular stomach wall. Ulcers that develop in the mucous lining of the

A sudden negative change in your horse’s demeanor could mean he’s suffering from gastric ulcers.

lower stomach respond to a different drug, sucralfate. This drug binds to the lining, acting like a bandage at the ulcer site and enhancing mucus production. The drug also has some antibacterial properties. Since bacteria aren’t known to cause


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GastroGard is currently the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating ulcers in horses. But it’s expensive—a month’s treatment for a full-size horse can cost more than $1,000. Generic versions have come on the market, but as of this writing none has FDA approval. Last year the FDA cracked down on nine firms marketing “unlicensed and adulterated” omeprazole products for horses. Some of the products contained far less omeprazole than the amount listed on their labels. Ranitidine (Zantac® in human medicine) blocks the action of histamine, a body chemical that stimulates acid production in the stomach. Dosage varies with the case, but as you might suppose a horse needs significantly more than you do. Ranitidine is usually given three times a day for three to four weeks. The cost is typically about half the cost of treatment with GastroGard, but the effects vary



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bacteria may be able to replace the harmful bacteria that colonize ulcers and stimulate healing.



Alfalfa hay can be a good choice for buffering gastric acid, and offering small portions or a grass–alfalfa mix as part of your horse’s daily forage rations can help keep acid levels low.

ulcers in horses, antibiotics aren’t a standard part of treatment. However, antibiotics can help in some cases, Dr. Andrews says. Bacteria are naturally present in the horse’s stomach. When ulcers form, harmful bacteria (other than the Helicobacter species that cause ulcers in people) may

colonize the sores and interfere with healing. Combining antibiotic and antacid treatment sometimes helps these horses, who tend to have recurring ulcer problems. Boosting beneficial bacteria with probiotics, especially products containing Lactobacillus, may also help. Lactobacillus

Because a horse’s lifestyle plays such a big role in triggering ulcers, management is vital in dealing with the problem. Simple changes in your horse’s diet and routine can improve healing. Remembering to make any feed changes gradually, give him: Q More forage. Maximize grazing time, and feed free-choice hay when your horse isn’t on grass. Keeping some forage in his stomach will lower the risk that stomach acids will injure the stomach lining. Q Alfalfa. Alfalfa hay is especially good at buffering acid, Dr. Andrews says. The effects are released slowly as the hay is digested, lasting up to five hours. Freechoice alfalfa would be too rich, but offering some alfalfa or a grass–alfalfa mix as part of his total ration, in evenly


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spaced feedings, could help keep acid levels in check. Q Less grain. Feed concentrates only to provide calories that the horse can’t get from hay. Divide his grain ration into three or four small feedings a day, spaced at least five hours apart, to avoid high levels of volatile fatty acids. Q A little fat. If he’s getting sweet feed or a similar feed that’s high in soluble carbohydrates, switch to a high-fat complete feed. Or use a commercial complete feed plus a fat supplement to provide calories with less stomach acidity. Q More downtime. Time off, or at least cutting back on exercise and training, will give the ulcers a chance to heal. Avoid shipping and other stresses and increase turnout time. Q No NSAIDs. Avoiding these drugs will help the ulcers heal. If your horse needs anti-inflammatory medication, talk to your vet about other choices.

MAINTENANCE Ulcers tend to recur, especially when contributing factors (like stress from training, transport and showing) remain part of the horse’s life. Making the feed and lifestyle changes listed permanent will help keep them away. Still, some horses may benefit from preventive medication or supplements even after their ulcers heal. Daily omeprazole at one-fourth of the treatment dose is effective for this, Dr. Andrews says. (A low-dose version of GastroGard is sold as UlcerGard® for preventive use; the medication in the tubes is the same strength, but the dose markings are different.) “We don’t know of any negative long-term effects” of continued administration, Dr. Andrews says. However, studies haven’t looked at administration for periods longer than 90 days. Daily doses for shorter periods at stressful times—before, during and after

a show, for example—might help prevent a relapse, but that also hasn’t been studied. Many feed supplements claim to promote gastric health and alleviate or prevent ulcers in horses, but only few have research to back up the claims. Researchers at LSU found that a supplement containing a blend of stomach-coating ingredients (pectin, lecithin, beta-glucan) and acid-buffering ingredients (sodium bicarbonate, alfalfa meal) failed to prevent ulcers but did reduce the severity of the lesions after 35 days of treatment. Another LSU study found that a supplement containing a proprietary blend of sea buckthorn, glutamine, aloe vera, pectin and lecithin helps keep ulcers at bay after treatment with GastroGard. “Ulcers should be treated with GastroGard first and then the horse can be evaluated for the best preventive measures,” Dr. Andrews says.

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Want to get a head start on your holiday shopping? Here’s the ultimate guide for finding unique equestrian-themed gift ideas for everyone on your list. t’s just about time to pack up your horse’s fly sheets and start digging his winter blankets out of storage. There’s no doubt about it, winter is just around the corner and holiday season is nearly upon us. So grab a pumpkin spice


latte, cuddle up with your favorite cozy blanket and check out some gifts we’ve selected for the fellow horse lovers in your life. Whether you want to spend $10 or $200, we’ve rounded up some options in every price range.

Ring in the Holidays Welcome guests to your home or barn with a festive Horse-Head Wreath handmade in the United States. A spinoff from traditional holiday wreaths, this lush horse-head-shaped wreath is made from artificial foliage, holiday greenery, glitter flowers, pine cones, holly and comes complete with a large ribbon. Flower and ribbon colors can be customized. There is also a deluxe wreath that includes more decoration and a ribbon bridle, and an option with two deluxe wreaths facing each other (photo at left). Each single wreath measures 2½ by 2½ feet. Regular wreath is $68, deluxe is $89, double is $174; https://www.etsy. com/shop/Alldesignsequine.

Horses in Your Heart The polished sterling silver Diamond Horse Heart Necklace from Joy Jewelers features two horses touching noses with their necks arched in a heart shape. The pendant measures 18.7 by 22.7 millimeters and includes .03-carat total weight round, single-cut



diamond accents. The diamonds are I-J in color (nearly colorless) and fall between I2–I3 in clarity. The sterling silver chain is 18 inches long and closes with a spring-ring clasp. This necklace is part of the company’s ASPCA Tender Voices jewelry collection and every necklace purchased benefits the ASPCA. $89.97;

High-End Horse Treats The all-natural Christmas Collection of horse treats from Snaks 5th Avenchew make a tasty and festive reward for your horse. The company focuses on creating allergen-free treats that don’t contain any harsh or irritating additives. Ingredients in the Christmas Collection of Snaks are flour, molasses, sugar and cinnamon, and every treat that Snaks 5th Avenchew prepares is handmade in the United States. Each treat in this collection is about 3 inches long, and there are six holiday-themed Snaks per order. $15;

Deck the Stalls Be the talk of the barn this holiday season with a hand-painted Portrait Stall Sign from Moxie Designs. Each sign is completely customizable, and there are 10 different sign shapes, numerous wood stains and your choice

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of over 50 different fonts. In addition, your horse can be painted in any pose or discipline with both head and full-body portraits available under tack or without. Stall plaques are finished with three to four coats of high-grade marine sealer, making them resistant to wear and tear from barn and outdoor use. Prices range from $45-$120 depending on size and detail;

Brighten Up the Winter Blues The vivid Floral Belt by Jenny Krauss will remind you that spring is on the way. These wool belts are hand-woven and embroidered by South American artisans according to fair-trade practices. Dozens of colors are used in each belt, ensuring they are one of a kind. The 1-inch-wide belt comes with a metal buckle and five holes spaced 2 inches apart, making it wearable on your hips or waist. Available base colors are cream, blue, citron, black, light blue or brown. Sizes small (23–31 inches), medium (28–37 inches) and large (34–43 inches); $64; www.

Part of the Trail of Painted Ponies holiday collection, the Song of the Cardinal Ornament shows off the work of artist Laurie Cook. The ornament was inspired by a snowy winter morning when the artist glanced out her win-

tree. This enchanting winter scene continues on both sides of the ornament. The 3.3-inch rearing horse is hand-painted by talented artisans. The artist was involved in every step of the approval process, ensuring that the finished product is faithful to the original design. $17.99; www.trailof

Saddle Soap Sampler The handmade Equestrian Gift Pack from Horsing Around Soap™ includes a 0.5-ounce sample size of each of the company’s four castile saddle soaps as well as a 4-ounce bar of Oats and Honey



hand soap and a 2-fluid-ounce bottle of helmet freshening spray with a spa-type clean scent. Each low-sudsing saddle soap cleans and polishes leather in one step and contains no harmful chemicals, phthalates, preservatives, parabens or colorants. Saddle soap fragrances are blueberry, cilantro, lavender and raspberry. Hand soap is vegan friendly and measures 1 by 3 by 2.5 inches. Gift pack comes in a decorative box; $15;

Enhance Your Winter Wardrobe The Home Is Where My Horse Is Shirt from Stirrups Clothing Company makes a heartfelt gift for any horse owner on your list. The back of the T-shirt features a screen-printed “Home Is Where My Horse Is” design, and the shirt’s front showcases the company’s Equestrian Prep Collection™ logo on the pocket. All designs in this collection are printed on pre-shrunk 100-percent cotton Comfort Colors pocket tees. The shirt is available in one color, blue jean, and comes in long or short sleeves. Unisex sizes small, medium, large and x-large; $30 for short sleeve and $34 for long sleeve;

Diversify Your Horse’s Diet Made from all-natural ingredients, Brittany’s Bran Mash® is a great way to warm up your


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horse this winter. Everything you need is included in the bag. Just empty the contents into a bucket and add enough warm water to cover the mash. Each bag contains wheat bran, oats, beet pulp, ground flax seed and dehydrated fruits or peppermints. The mash is ideally fed as a treat or an occasional addition to your horse’s current feed. Flavors are absolutely apple, carrot crazy, tropical fruit frenzy, peppermint pucker or strawberry bananza. Available in 32-ounce pony-size or 48-ounce horse-size bags. $9.95–$13.95; www.brit

Customize Your Caberneigh The dishwasher-safe Life Is Simple Stemless Wine Glasses from Premier Home and Gifts make an elegant present for any adult equestrian in your life. Underneath the line “Life is Simple at…”, you can personalize the glasses by adding the recipient’s name or barn. Each 21-ounce glass is individually hand-etched in the United States. Glasses come in sets of four with the same design of two horses and a row of flowers along with the custom engraving on each glass. $48 per set; www.premierho


When bad weather strikes, the Therminator Winter Riding Pants from Kerrits® are here to help. The breeches are made with fleece-lined stretch performance Windsport™ soft-shell fabric that is wind- and waterresistant. Kerrit Sticks™ technology is incorporated throughout the seat and inner legs, providing both the grip and stretch necessary when in the saddle. Breeches have a front-zip fly with belt loops and two front-zip pockets. Machine washable; colors are graphite, bison or black; sizes small, medium, large and x-large; $119;

Show Off Your Sparkle Suitable for riding stars of all ages, Twinkle™ Toes Glitter Hoof Polish makes a fun holiday gift. Apply Twinkle Toes to your horse’s clean, dry hooves or over black hoof polish using the built-in brush applicator. For more vibrant results, apply more than one coat. To remove, lightly sand the hoof with sandpaper, use hoof-polish remover or let Twinkle Toes wear off naturally. Shake well before use; comes in gold, rainbow stars, silver, royal, copper, iridescent frost, pink, purple, red or emerald; 4-ounce bottle; $15; www.


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ATTEND the 2016 PATH International Conference and Annual Meeting, Nov. 2–5, in Williamsburg, VA. Highlights include educational sessions, discussion forums and an awards banquet to recognize the accomplishments of those in the equine-assisted activities and therapies industry; www. CHECK OUT top eventers on the West Coast during the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event, Nov. 3–6, in Temecula, CA. The competition includes na-

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CHEER ON young equitation riders as they compete in the ASPCA Maclay Finals, Nov. 5, in Lexington, KY. The competition is a highlight of the National Horse Show, which runs from Nov. 1–6. Visit earlier in the week to see top hunters and jumpers compete for big prize money; ENJOY clinics, demonstrations, an extensive trade fair and shop-


Practical Tips & Talk

5 Things to Do in NOVEMBER

Greetings from RURAL URUGUAY

Slightly smaller than the state of Washington, the South American country of Uruguay is populated by vast numbers of cattle, sheep and horses. Ranches, known here as estancias, dot the landscape and many welcome travelers for an authentic look at their daily life. Two and a half hours from the coast, in the southeastern part of the country, I spent time at a family-owned ranch, getting a glimpse into the past and present ways of working with animals and falling into harmony with nature far off the grid. If you come here, you’ll likely see open expanses of rolling grasslands and bright blue skies, but something you won’t spot are power lines. Sustainability is a hallmark of ranches near the city of Minas, and many are run by solar and wind power. Riding a chilled-out but strong Criollo horse—a hardy breed native to South America—I followed my guide, Alicia, first to a 200-year-old stone circle that was used to help protect livestock during nights on the ranch. In this pastoral part of the country, fences did not become common until later in the 19th century, and today these old stone circles are used for rounding up sheep and cattle for vaccinations. As the sun began to set, we climbed to higher elevations, to an area that the locals call the “soul’s hills.” The wind blew through the tall grass, and as we reached a peak, the hilltops that spread out before us seemed to glow. Alicia pointed out a Tibetan monastery

ping galore at Equine Affaire, Nov. 10–13, in West Springfield, MA. A wide-ranging roster of clinicians includes Nicholas Fyffe, Linda Langmeier and Prac columnists Jim Wofford and Julie Winkel; www.

WATCH top competitors in adult amateur and open divisions from Training Level through Grand Prix at the U.S. Dressage Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY, Nov. 10–13; dressagefinals/.

in the distance, something I was surprised to see. She explained that this lesser-known area draws people seeking peace and hoping to realign themselves with the natural world. As the sun plunged below the horizon, I felt a world away from my life in Washington, D.C. and somehow connected to this area and its way of life. Perhaps it was my Criollo steed, who exhaled deeply just as I did and set me totally at ease as the sun made a final dip below the hilltops. Or maybe it was experiencing the simplicity of life on a ranch through the centuries and up to today in this stunning part of Uruguay. Best,


Darley Newman is the host and producer of the Emmy-award-winning PBS TV series “Equitrekking” and “Travels with Darley” on PBS, AOL and MSN. For more information on travel and riding vacations, visit and Travels

Practical Horseman encourages the use of ASTM/SEI-certified protective headgear while horseback riding.



On a pony she had never previously ridden, 15-year-old Caroline Passarelli won the Marshall & Sterling/ U.S. Pony Medal Final in August at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. It was the young rider’s first appearance in the medal final’s Caroline Passarelli and top 20 So Enchanted in the six years she had participated and she got there riding a borrowed mount when the pony she had originally planned to ride was not able to compete. Aboard News

After qualifying seven entries for the final round, Scott Stewart and Rivers Edge’s Storm Watch won the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship in August at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky. In the lead after the second round with 520.5 points, Stewart and Scott Stewart and Storm Watch Storm Watch received scores of 91, 88 and 85.5 in the championship round for a total of 264.5 points and the title. Jenny Karazissis and Puissance R, owned by Lisa Hankin, won the first round of the championship and finished second overall. Hunt Tosh and Chicago, owned by Douglas Wheeler, finished third.

Dressage Championships Go to Ots, Karol Two winners emerged as the Markel/ USEF Young and Developing Horse National Championships concluded at the end of August at Lamplight Eques-

A Win for Burton at Burghley



Passarelli Earns U.S. Pony Medal Title

Stewart Rides Storm Watch to Victory



Trifecta for Farmer It was a one–two–three victory for Kelley Farmer, who won the HITS $100,000 Hunter Derby in Saugerties, New York, at the beginning of August and took second and third place as well. Riding Baltimore, owned by Jane Gaston, Farmer earned her third hunter-derby series win with a score of 378. She finished second Kelley Farmer and Baltimore with Kodachrome, owned by Nina Moore, and third with Point Being, owned by Kensal, LLC.

trian Center in Wayne, Illinois. Endel Ots and Lucky Strike, co-owned by Ots and his father, Max Ots, earned the Markel/ Jane Karol and USEF 6-YearSunshine Tour Old National Championship after receiving a score of 8.64 in the preliminary test and clinching a win in the FEI 6-Year-Old Final Test. Endel Ots and Lucky Jane Karol Strike and Sunshine Tour claimed the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix National Championship with an overall score of 66.91 percent. The pair placed second in the Intermediaire II and followed up with a win in the USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Test with 68.75 percent.

Flash, owned by Annabelle Sanchez, Passarelli rode to the top of the class of 163 entries. Augusta Iwaskai was the reserve champion and Christina Rogalny finished third. The medal-final victory was Passarelli’s second big win at the U.S. Pony Finals. Earlier in the week, she won her first championship, the Small Green Pony division, with So Enchanted, owned by Jessica and Michaila Zandri, on a score of 1,052.4.





Christopher Burton (AUS) and Nobilis took first in a field of 71 competitors at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** in England at the beginning of September. Finishing on a score of 49.4, Burton had four rails in-hand Christopher Burton and Nobilis over secondplace competitor Andrew Nicholson (NZL) heading into show jumping and used every one before crossing the finish line and




CIRCLE holding on to the lead. Nicholson and Nereo finished second on 53.2 and Jonelle Price (NZL) and Classic Moet finished third on a score of 54.1. American riders Elisa Wallace, Phillip Dutton and Holly Payne-Caravella all finished in the top 20.

Wood Takes First and Second at AEC


Australia’s Ryan Wood won the Adequan Advanced Gold Cup Final Championship and Reserve Championship, Sept. 4, at the USEA American Eventing Championships held at North Carolina’s Tryon International Equestrian

Longines FEI World Cup™ North American League News 3 NAL Qualifiers Set for This Month ■ Nov. 5: The Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping Lexington will be a highlight of the CP National Horse Show, Nov. 1–6, in Lexington, Kentucky. Held in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park, the show also features the ASPCA Alfred B. Maclay Finals. The National has the distinction of being the oldest indoor horse show in the United States. It was founded in 1883 at New York City’s original Madison Square Garden. In 2011 it was held for the first time at the Kentucky Horse Park; ■ Nov. 9: The Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping Toronto will be part of The Royal Horse Show, Nov. 7–12, in Toronto, Canada. In its 93rd year, The Royal is the largest combined agricultural and equestrian fair in the world with more than 1 million square feet of elite agriculture, livestock, food and chef competitions. This year’s edition runs from Nov. 4–13. In 2015, the highlight—The Royal Horse Show—was named Top Indoor Event of North America by the North American Riders Group; www. ■ Nov. 19: The Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping Las Vegas will unfold during the Las Vegas National, Nov. 15–20, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The site of the competition is the indoor equestrian facility at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa, located minutes from the Las Vegas Strip. Accommodations, dining, entertainment, show arenas and stabling are all under one roof;

Ryan Wood and Powell


Karl Cook (USA) and Tembla topped a field of 26 at the end of August to win the $135,600 Longines FEI World Cup™ Langley at Thunderbird Show Park in British Columbia. Cook earned the victory by riding a fast—42.95-second—and fault-free jump-off that included five other riders. Also finishing clear was Nikolaj Hein Ruus (DEN) and Big Red, who posted a time of 44.49 seconds for second place, and Brian Morton (CAN) and Atlantis T, who were third with a Karl Cook and Tembla time of 45.77.



Center. Wood and first-place horse Powell, owned by Wood and Summit Sporthorses Ltd., had one rail down in show jumping to finish on a score of 38.2. Wood’s secondplace horse, Woodstock Bennett, owned by Curran Simpson, had a double-clear show-jumping round, which boosted the pair from fourth to second on 38.9. Finishing third on a score of 41.5, Doug Payne was the highestplacing American and he earned the title of USEF Advanced National Champion with mount Vandiver, owned by Debi Crowley.

Cook Takes First West Coast League Qualifier in Langley


t one time or another, most horse owners have experienced difficulty loading their horses into a trailer. But did you know that common occurrence could increase the risk that your horse will incur injuries or other health problems during transport? Researchers from Australia’s University of Sydney and Charles Sturt University surveyed horse owners about their horses’ loading and traveling behavior, health problems and trailer-loading training methods. The team was led by Barbara Padalino and included Evelyn Hall, Peter Knight, Pietro Celi, Leo Jeffcott, Gary Muscatello and Sharanne Raidal. The survey was completed by nearly 800 respondents who trailered their horses at least once per month over a two-year period. Participants provided information on approximately 15,000 horses and 300,000 individual transport events. They represented a variety of equine interests with nearly half involved in sporthorse disciplines. Survey participants were asked to classify their trailer training into one of four types: operant conditioning, habituation, self-loading and no training. (Operant conditioning works by punishing or rewarding the horse for a specific behavior. Habituation occurs when a horse’s response to a Researchers have found that horses who are trained to stimulus decreases over time load with positive reinforcewith repeated exposure to the ment have less risk of injury stimulus, such as the trailer itself. while trailering. With self-loading, the horse is taught to walk on the trailer without someone leading him in.) Participants were also asked to report any transport-related problem behaviors, injuries or illness that their horses experienced during the two-year period. Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported some type of behavioral issue during transport. Two-thirds also reported that their horses experienced at least one injury or other health issue related to transport. Of those, 45 percent reported injuries with the rest reporting health issues including diarrhea, muscular problems, respiratory ailments, transport pneumonia, overheating, colic and laminitis. More than 43 percent said they did not train their horses for trailering. One-fourth used operant conditioning—primarily through negative reinforcement (punishment). Another 20 percent used habituation and nearly 11 percent used self-loading training. © AMY K. DRAGOO

Health Update

Trailer Training Can Impact Transportation Risk



Researchers discovered a connection between these training methods and the behavioral and health issues. Horses trained using operant conditioning, based on negative reinforcement, and those with no trailer training were at higher risk for trouble. Those trained to self-load or trained through habituation showed a reduced risk. The research team concluded that using these latter two training methods can help safeguard your horse’s welfare whenever it’s time for a trailer ride.

World’s First PET Scanner for Equine Use Positron emission tomography scanners can provide diagnostic information not available from other technologies. PET scanners read low levels of radioactivity created when special dye is injected into the patient. The equipment then creates images at the cellular level. “In practicality, that means two things,” says Mathieu Spriet, DVM, MS, associate professor of diagnostic imaging at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Equine Health. “One, PET can detect lesions that other advanced modalities do not identify, and two, it can tell us if a lesion—identified with another modality—is a significant injury or not.” Yet due to challenges related to horse size, PET scanners haven’t been available to the equine world. That’s on the verge of changing. The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Equine Health has become the first veterinary facility to use a PET scanner for equines. The potential ability to use PET scanners on horses came about as the technology evolved into a more compact and versatile design. In spring 2015, Dr. Spriet and Ramsey Badawi, PhD, MSc, director of research, division of nuclear medicine, UC Davis, were able to obtain use of a scanner for one month and run pilot trials on horses. “Based on the results of the pilot data, we decided it would be an interesting system to have here on a permanent basis for more research and clinical applica-


Debbie McDonald Riding Through Olympic medalist Debbie McDonald describes her system for success in dressage and relates her life story: “There is more than one reason that I call this book Riding Through. Of course, first and foremost, riding through is a dressage term, something you strive for as you attempt to get your horse on the aids and moving back-to-front. But “riding through” has other meanings for me as well. I’ve learned to ride through hard times, on and off a horse, when I thought about giving up.” We all have to learn about riding through, because that’s the only way we will arrive at our destination, whatever it may be. #Paperback, 176 pp., #ZF514, $19.95

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The veterinarians at UC Davis are testing the first PET scanner for equine use, which will be helpful in bone imaging and pinpointing soft-tissue injuries.

tions,” says Dr. Spriet. “Through funding from the Grayson Jockey Club research foundation and support from our Center for Equine Health, we have obtained the funding for a long-term lease.” The team plans to scan six research horses initially and then progress to clinical trials that will include client-owned animals, says Spriet. Results from the pilot study indicated that the PET scanner has multiple potential capabilities for equine diagnostics, particularly in bone imaging. For instance, the scanner may be able to identify small areas of bone remodeling not visible with other technologies and may be useful for pinpointing degenerative changes before they’re apparent. It may also help in evaluating soft-tissue damage, particularly in cases of laminitis or tendon lesions. Ultimately, the technology could prove most beneficial when other diagnostic tools are unable to find a cause of lameness or when the results of those diagnostics are inconclusive. Dr. Spriet has high hopes for the tool. “Preliminary data suggests that PET will be the next big revolution in equine imaging since the development of MRI,” he says. —Sushil Wenholz Thanks to the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Equine Health for providing us with the photo of the PET scanner. The Center for Equine Health is supported with the monies provided by the State of California Pari-Mutuel Fund and contributions by private donors.

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My Life

A Broken Jaw Creates an Unexpected Opportunity By Michelle Craig



tanding at the in-gate for our first 3-foot jumper course, YouMightBeARedneck (Rory) turns his head to my right foot and I scratch his big blaze. Then as I ask him to trot in and canter to the first fence, everyone stops to watch. Rory was in a serious trailer accident in April, which left him with a displaced fractured upper jaw and unable to wear a bridle. After the surgery to repair and stabilize the fracture, I decided to try riding my green, 5-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred without a bridle, and it has been a success. We now are showing in local eventing, jumper and dressage competitions with just a simple neck rope. It certainly catches people’s attention. After the surgery, Rory lost significant weight and I struggled to put it back on him because his diet was limited since he had “braces”—his jaw was wired. A friend recommended a feed that helped her Thoroughbred and put me in touch with the local representative, Lindsey Williamson. Lindsey came to the farm and Michelle Craig and YouMightBeARedneck we discussed Rory’s needs. We switched him to a new feed and watered it down to a liquid that he would drink. I also liquified hay pellets and fed him every four hours. We were all so happy when he felt good enough to go back to free-choice hay. As a bit of background on Rory: I bought him sight unseen from a good friend, Jen Ruberto, in the fall of 2015 in the hopes that he’d “In reality, the be my 2016 Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover hardest part horse. I knew from his first ride that he was special, but I had no was getting idea how special until after the accident forced me to start this unon for the first conventional journey. I’ve learned just how physically hard it is to time and sayride a young, green Thoroughbred without a bridle and how to let ing, “Let’s see go and trust him completely. If he doesn’t want to go somewhere what we can or do something, there’s nothing I can really do but keep suggesting do!” while letwhat I want with my seat, leg and voice. Luckily, 99 percent of the ting go of any time Rory and I are on the same page. reservations I’ve also realized how much trust he has in me, even before the and goals.” accident. I discovered this when trying to put another rider on him bridleless and he was instantly tense, upset and unresponsive. That was interesting to watch and showed me how deep the bond we




have goes. He will follow me anywhere and everywhere and nickers and gives me kisses when I walk into his stall. Basically whatever I ask of him, he willingly says, “Let’s do this!” For example, after the accident, he followed me onto a second trailer on the side of the busy road where the collision occurred. To not shake Rory’s faith in me, I have to be very aware of his reactions to things and make sure he is never overwhelmed. Without him trusting me, we cannot accomplish anything since I truly cannot make him do anything he doesn’t want to do. Luckily, he seems to enjoy everything I love—eventing and doing tricks. Rory has become quite the ham and loves to learn new things whether it be under saddle or on the ground. People always ask what the hardest part of riding bridleless is, and I always say it’s trying to stop him from constantly grazing on cross country. In reality, the hardest part was getting on for the first time and saying, “Let’s see what we can do!” while letting go of any reservations and goals. The first few rides were nerve-wracking to say the least, even though Rory was a perfect gentleman. I had to build my trust in him just as he learned to believe in me. The relationship we have is unlike any other I’ve had with any of my previous horses simply because we have to rely on each other’s willingness and cooperation so much. It is truly a partnership. We are still planning on competing in October at the RRP Makeover, but I no longer have the goal of being super-competitive. Instead, my goal is to let Rory have a lot of fun showing off what he does best: jumping without a bridle! Correction: We apologize for an editorial error in the September issue of My Life, in which we incorrectly identified the rider who fell off during a jump lesson with the author. It was actually a girl whose name the author did not know.

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