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56 34 SPECIAL FEATURES 28 Spring Conditioning
Where and how to start, and a 12-week workout schedule to recondition your horse after downtime.
34 Breathe Right for Better Riding
More effective breathing can give you more stamina, more control, and greater confidence in the saddle.
How going down the road looks and sounds through the eyes and ears of a horse.
46 550 Kilometres on the Trans Canada Trail
One woman, one horse, and 550 kms over and through the trestles, tunnels, mountains, and valleys of Southern BC. www.HORSE Journals.com
56 Riding Above the Clouds: My Ecuador Expedition
Horseback trekking on a gaited Criollo through the Ecuadorian Andes.
66 #MeToo In The Horse Industry
The horse industry joins the worldwide conversation calling for gender equality, respect, and safe places.
38 Inside Your Horse Trailer: From Your Horse’s Perspective
46 ON THE COVER “Horses change lives. They give our young people confidence and self-esteem. They provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls. They give us hope!” — Toni Robinson PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK/OSETRIK
34 Photo: Dreamstime/Unicornamira | 46 Photo: Bryn White | 56 Photo: Clix Photography
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b IN THIS ISSUE
28 18 Are You Feeding Enough Vitamin E?
With the new riding season about to begin, now is the perfect time to give your horse a head-tohooves health review. www.HORSE Journals.com
74 Horse Council BC News Riding Association News
10 Spring Horse Health Checkup
8 Editorial 76 Canadian Therapeutic
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Understanding the role of this important vitamin in the equine diet.
24 How to Spill the Beans
Six steps to the care and cleaning of your male horse’s undercarriage.
77 Manitoba Horse Council News 77, 80, 82, 84
Industry Products, Book Reviews
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SPRING HORSE HEALTH CHECKUP By Steve Chiasson, DVM, CVMA 10
With winter releasing its icy grip on most of the country, horse owners are feeling the anticipation of another riding season just around the corner. While Canadians take national pride in fully embracing our cold snow-filled months, it’s hard to deny that springtime is a welcome sight, and horse owners are especially excited. Winter horse care can mean different things depending on your geographic location. Fluctuating temperatures in Eastern Canada create challenges for indoor housing. Folks on the Prairies cope with their incredibly frigid minus 40-degree C days
(how you just “dress for it” I don’t know!). While in Western British Columbia there is constant rain from November to March. Dealing with any of those conditions makes both horse and human welcome the arrival of spring sunshine and open barn doors! The transition between seasons is a natural time to do some spring cleaning around the house and barn. Just as important is the seasonal transition for your horse. Whether spring sees you switching from indoor arena to outdoor riding, changing your horse’s housing from stable to pasture and paddocks, or
PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK/135PIXELS PHOTOS COURTESY OF AGWEST VETERINARY GROUP LTD.
The vet will listen to gastrointestinal sounds on both sides of the abdomen both high and low. These rumblings and gurgles are normal in healthy horses, and an indicator of digestive function and intestinal movement.
PHOTO: DREAMSTIME/VIKTORIA MAKAROVA
Performance horses benefit from a full detailed examination and soundness evaluation. The Lameness Locator® provides a computerized analysis that assists in establishing an objective evaluation of baseline soundness. This is particularly useful for comparison if problems develop later on.
beginning new training for the upcoming show season, you will be affecting your horse’s living and working conditions in significant ways. This is a perfect time for getting a spring horse health checkup.
horse’s health. It is a snapshot in time that takes into account both medical history and potential future plans for your horse activities. And it is incredibly valuable.
The Vet Exam
It seems cliché to say “You and your veterinarian are important partners in the health care of your horse,” but the history of health and performance is critical to making evaluations and future decisions for your horse. Nobody is more in tune with how things are going than the person who sees the horse every day — and that’s you. Your checkup exam will always start with a good history.
A spring horse health exam can be quite different from a mid-season exam. During the riding season, veterinarians will often be called to investigate a specific problem that is occurring, such as respiratory difficulty at rest, or worsening lameness that is affecting performance. But the pre-season exam is generally focused on a broader view of your
If you recently purchased the horse, you may have an in depth pre-purchase exam report that will have a very detailed summary of past medical history and exam findings (see Unravelling the Mysteries of the Pre-Purchase Exam, Canadian Horse Journal Sept/Oct 2017 issue). Having this information on hand is always helpful when your veterinarian is seeing a new horse for the first time. Everything that has happened over the winter season is also important information: • Has the horse been in work through the winter? SPRING 2018
CANADIAN HORSE JOURNAL
Are You Feeding
ENOUGH PHOTO: CANSTOCK/YANIKAP
By Shelagh Niblock, PAS
itamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that is an essential nutrient in equine diets. Vitamin E functions largely as a biological antioxidant in the equine body, protecting tissues from the oxidative effects of free radicals. Free radicals are a natural outcome of cell metabolism but they can become excessive during conditions of hard work or injury. The more active the cells are in your horse, the more at risk he is of oxidative stress at the cellular level. This means that hard-working performance horses and growing horses are at particular risk of oxidative stress. Vitamin E also functions to enhance immunity at the intracellular level in our horses. Horses do not manufacture vitamin E in their own bodies
Fresh spring pasture is one of the most abundant sources of vitamin E.
and therefore need supplemental sources of it. Dietary sources include fresh forages such as pasture, whole grains with the endosperm intact, as well as fats and oil seeds. Horses that are deficient in vitamin E will have poor immunity and longer recovery times after injury or work due to oxidative stress on the cells within the body. Other nutritional antioxidant sources include carotenoids like beta carotene, as well as vitamin C and selenium. What are the sources of vitamin E in the equine diet? Vitamin E is a naturally occurring organic compound called alpha-tocopherol. Equine diets can contain either synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopherol), or natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol), or
both. Research in multiple species including humans has shown that the natural form of vitamin E is better utilized by the body and is more effective at raising blood serum or plasma vitamin E levels. Vitamin E in either the natural or synthetic form is very unstable and subject to deterioration, so a form that has been esterified is generally added to any manufactured feeds or supplements. A common esterified form is called alphatocopheryl acetate. Esterified vitamin E sources are completely safe and effective, and are rapidly converted back to non-esterified vitamin E in the digestive tract. Over-the-counter natural vitamin E supplements or capsules intended for human consumption may say â€œnatural
How much vitamin E do horses need? The 2007 NRC Equine Nutritional Guidelines provide minimum recommendations for vitamin E intake for horses at different body weights and different metabolic states. It suggests that a mature 500 kg horse at maintenance (doing no work) needs a minimum daily intake about 500 IU (international units) of vitamin E. The requirement doubles to a minimum intake of 1000 IU for the same horse doing hard work. Research has shown that horses consuming diets higher
Hard-working horses benefit from vitamin E supplementation. Horses deficient in vitamin E will have poor immunity and longer recovery times after injury or work due to oxidative stress on the cells within the body.
source” or “organic” vitamin E, but a review of the ingredient statement will show the nonesterified d-alpha-tocopherol. This can be confusing but it is worthwhile familiarizing yourself with the terminology so you can be sure of what you are buying for yourself or your horse. Sources of vitamin E intended for human consumption work well for horses and can sometimes be more economical. The most metabolically available source of vitamin E for horses is one where vitamin E is processed to make it water soluble. There are a couple of sources of processed vitamin E available in the United States (Nano-E by Kentucky Equine Research and Elevate WS by Kentucky Performance Products), but unfortunately at this time there are no sources available in Canada. Canadian horse owners wanting to source watersoluble vitamin E would need to order the product online and have it shipped to Canada or a pickup point in the US. Fresh spring pasture is one of the most abundant sources of vitamin E, but stored forages like hay or haylage lose their vitamin E activity quickly. Whole grains and some unsaturated fat sources are also good sources of the vitamin but again, the vitamin deteriorates rapidly during storage.
in unsaturated fat sources such as corn, soybean, or canola oil may have reduced efficiency in utilizing dietary vitamin E sources. This could potentially increase the vitamin E requirement for hard-working horses that are consuming high fat feed supplements. Most commercially available complete equine mineral supplements provide vitamin E at a minimum of 500 IU for a mature 500 kg horse, thereby providing supplemental vitamin E at NRC
recommended maintenance levels. This intake will provide an adequate level of the vitamin for most pleasure horses. The expectation is undoubtedly that any additional vitamin E required will be provided by the forages the horse eats or additional complete feed sources. Unfortunately, a reality of modern horse ownership is that few of our horses, especially those in significant training or work, have much access to fresh forage like
pasture. Even semi-sedentary pleasure horses are likely to be limited in their access to pasture as we understand so much more now about the impact it has on horses with metabolic issues. Few pleasure horse are allowed unlimited access to rapidly growing spring pasture because of concerns such as insulin resistance and laminitis. It’s too bad because fresh pasture is probably one of the best sources of vitamin E available for your horse.
CANADIAN HORSE JOURNAL
Where Should You Start? By Jec A. Ballou
WHEN SPRING FINALLY ARRIVES, the sunny riding season ahead can greet riders with both excitement and anxiety. Where do I start, you might wonder as you calculate how unfit your horse has become from a winter of being off work. How long will it take to ease him back to fitness? What sorts of exercises and timelines should I use? In this article, Iâ€™ll answer these questions, plus offer a simple schedule in addition to some rules you never want to break. 28
School your horse on a variety of surfaces. If most of your riding is done in an arena, spend at least one other day each week on a different riding surface, such as a grass paddock, a firm road, or on wood chips.
PHOTO COURTESY OF JEC A. BALLOU
As a starting point, let’s consider when a horse loses the fitness he might have acquired the previous season. Any time a horse’s exercise routine drops below three 45-minute work sessions per week for a period longer than four weeks, we consider him to have lost a majority of fitness. If he reaches 12 weeks working less than three times per week, his fitness has zeroed out, including any baseline or foundation.
For our purposes in this article, we will assume most readers are starting from this point. Your priorities for the initial six weeks will be the cardiovascular system and core stability muscles. Your workouts should focus on basic conditioning rather than schooling specific skills and maneuvers. These workouts will remain less than 40 minutes and aim to deliver a low to moderate amount of cardiovascular stress, while also emphasizing calisthenics-type exercises to engage the horse’s postural muscles. I will offer a sample schedule to meet these goals below. Keep in mind that you do not need to work your horse at a gasping rate of effort in order to achieve gains. In fact,
this would be counter-productive. Muscle enzymes, capillaries, and plasma volumes are not yet properly developed in order to benefit from these kinds of workloads. Instead, you would raise stress hormones and fail to improve how the body utilizes oxygen, which should be the focus. If you monitor your horse’s heart rate, it should range between 120 and 140 beats per minute for the middle portion of your ride between the warm-up and cooldown. During this initial cardio phase, your strength training should only take the form of slow-moving, controlled calisthenics routines rather than exercises that activate the horse’s big SPRING 2018
CANADIAN HORSE JOURNAL
FOR BETTER RIDING
By April Clay M.Ed., Registered Psychologist
We breathe more than 20,000 times a day. Most of the time, we don’t give it much thought, since we do it automatically and all seems to go well… except when it doesn’t. Except when your breathing rate changes as a result of fear or stress. Except when your horse starts to experience a very different version of you that begins to set off his fight-or-flight instinct. Except when your ride becomes a mess and you’re at a loss as to how to calm down and get back on track. 34
At times like these you might start to think about your breathing. And that’s a good thing, because as much as breathing is an automatic process, we are also able to exert control over our breathing, and doing so can be very useful in sport and in life.
Why should you become an expert breather? You will have more stamina. In the sporting world, energy is the gas that drives all performances. Unfortunately, stress and excess tension can zap a rider of this much-needed
resource. Have you ever noticed how tiring it is to be nervous and anxious? That’s because when in this high state of alert your body uses a lot of energy. All of your resources go toward dealing with the stressor, and your performance comes second. If you reset your breathing a few wonderful things will happen. You will replenish your oxygen stores and you will be telling your brain that things are under control, you can handle this. Your mind will settle and clear, making it easier for you to make decisions. Your body will regain its power, thereby improving your riding potential.
PHOTO: DREAMSTIME/DONNA KILDAY
Your body is one big riding aid. If your body becomes impacted by stress, it will change how you communicate with your teammate, and these changes are usually not positive. When your stress response kicks in, it means more rapid breathing and increased muscle tension. Your thinking can become frenzied and distorted. Your horse, being a seasoned prey animal, will surely notice this transformation in you and wonder what’s up. Now you’re both nervous. Learning to breathe correctly and invoking a relaxation response are powerful tools in regulating stress and intensity levels. Being able to effectively calm yourself means sending a message of calm to your horse. When you reverse out of the fight-or-flight alarm, you regain control over your muscles and your aids. The purpose of your ride becomes clearer and your horse, now able to turn off his own fight-or-flight alarm, can get his attention focused back on you. You will manage your thoughts more effectively. When the fight or flight alarm kicks in, guess what you are focused on? Potential danger. What is scary and what can I do about it? How will I survive? These thoughts are not positive-focused; they are threatfocused and tend to be negative. What if I make a mistake? What if the judge doesn’t like my horse? What if I make a fool of myself?
If you are feeling stressed and nervous, your horse’s instincts will tell him there’s something to worry about. By resetting your breathing, both you and your horse will start to feel more relaxed and confident.
When you reset your breath and replenish the oxygen to your brain, it will be easier to think more clearly and purposefully. You will be able to direct your thoughts back to your riding and your goals. This will give you a greater sense of control, which in turn will lead to greater feelings of confidence.
Effective Breathing How-To Now that you know why you should learn to breathe effectively, here is your How-To guide: Basic Practice: When stressed, we tend to breathe shallowly from the chest. There is a corresponding tightness in our upper body as we force the air in and out quickly. To breathe correctly, you want to engage the diaphragm. It’s that muscle that sits between your lungs and abdominal cavity. To begin, sit comfortably on a chair or bed and place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Breathe normally. At first, just watch and pay attention. Ask yourself a few questions about your breaths — you can call them the three Fs: How far down does it go? How fast? How full does it seem? SPRING 2018
CANADIAN HORSE JOURNAL
FROM YOUR HORSE’S PERSPECTIVE By Kevan Garecki
ntil recently, no major studies had been conducted about the effect of travel on horses. The best advice most folks could hope for was to glean some pearls of wisdom from the ocean of opinions and tales of other road warriors. As a result, I actually found the results of the recent study by the University of California, Davis Campus, noteworthy in that their observations essentially did not differ from what responsible commercial horse transporters have known for years. In other words, they put down in writing what we already practice. The best part about
their study is that it confirmed what we already know and made it knowledge public. So here’s how the road looks and sounds through the eyes and ears of a horse…
Noise-Related Stress Most of us have witnessed the remarkably sensitive hearing that horses possess, but even when we’ve seen them catch the sound of footsteps from a mile away, full awareness escapes us. With hearing sensitive enough to hear that distant footfall, doesn’t it make sense that entering a trailer echoing with noises might be a tad unnerving? Rattling dividers,
squeaking floors and joints, wind rushing in through open windows, passing traffic, and a myriad of other sounds inundate our horses every second they’re on board. The trend of many trailer manufacturers in recent years has thankfully taken this into consideration. Within the past ten years or so, makers have incorporated alternative fastening materials and have learned from mishaps in an effort to provide us with a safer and less stressful environment for our horses and a more appealing product. However, no matter how well-designed and
HORSE PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK/ERICISSELEE TRAILER PHOTO: CANSTOCK/MARIAIT
manufactured a trailer is, it will eventually experience wear. And when things wear out, they often get a little noisier. Formerly quiet trailers develop squeaks, rattles, and other signs of age. Part of my regular maintenance routine involves a “shakedown” of all moving parts, doors, hatches, ramps, and so forth. I will test dividers, give doors and hatches a vigorous shake, and test everything that moves, could move, and a few that shouldn’t move but might. I’ve also asked a friend to drive my rig across a bumpy parking lot while I ride
inside just to see what the horses experience. Noise is a primary stressor for horses, as it is for most prey animals. Stress increases fatigue, reduces the effectiveness of their immune system, and long-term exposure to stressful situations can cause permanent psychological and physiological damage. So by managing the noise levels in our trailers we can effectively reduce the degree and amount of stress our horses experience during transport.
Trailer Interiors Lighting is seldom a concern until we stub a toe or scrape a shin on something in the dark. Some studies have shown that horses seem to have greater visual acuity than humans, but there are also indications that their eyes may take a bit longer to adjust to changing light conditions. We all know that sudden flashes of light can easily spook horses, as can dark shadows. Keeping this in mind, it makes sense to maintain a constant level of light inside our trailers. Commercial transporters know this, and so provide
Munching on hay helps horses pass the time, but grain should not be fed prior to or during a long trip.
artificial lighting inside their rigs, especially at night when streetlights and headlights from other traffic can turn the inside of a dark trailer into a chamber of horrors. Interior lighting helps immensely when loading at night. Horses naturally gravitate toward sources of light, so loading from a dark yard into a brightly lit trailer is actually rather inviting to Dobbin. I’ve used this trick to work with hesitant loaders in the past and have had very positive results. The interior of the trailer itself can lend to or detract from its ambiance. The inside should be bright and lightly coloured. White ceilings and upper walls have a tremendous impact on the sense of security felt by horses in transit. Lower walls should be lined to absorb or at least deflect impacts from hooves while helping to deaden the sound of those blows and scrapes. Rubber matting is by far the most common material; it’s relatively cheap, easy to handle and work with, and has reasonable longevity. SPRING 2018
CANADIAN HORSE JOURNAL
HOLIDAYS ON HORSEBACK
550 Kilometres ON THE
PHOTO: BRYN WHITE
By Tania Millen
The most intimidating trestle was 200 metres long, and curved over a deep, wide valley.
Click. Nothing. I pressed the button on top of my headlamp again. Click. Still nothing. Oh crap. My headlamp batteries had just died, and on the worst morning possible. Today was the day I would be riding Chocolate through 912-metre long Bulldog Tunnel as part of our 550 kilometre
I’d been worried about this tunnel since I learned it was on our route. Located two days' ride west of Castlegar, BC along a remote stretch of the TCT, there’s no way around the tunnel; either we had to ride through it or ride over 50 kilometres back to Christina Lake. Not knowing what condition the tunnel was in, and being prone to claustrophobia, I definitely wanted some light for this adventure. Unlike most trips, deciding to ride the TCT didn’t come from a longstanding desire to do so. It was actually just the result of circumstances colliding at the right time. It was 2017 and I wanted to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary doing something
PHOTOS: TANIA MILLEN
solo journey along the Trans Canada Trail (TCT). The original Midway railway station is in great condition and a lovely tourist stop. Midway is mile zero of the Kettle Valley Railway heading west to Hope, and where the trail starts following the Columbia & Western Railway bed east to Castlegar. SPRING 2018
CANADIAN HORSE JOURNAL
HOLIDAYS ON HORSEBACK
Riding above the clouds
MY ECUADOR EXPEDITION By Shawn Hamilton My favourite aspects of a riding vacation anywhere in the world are experiencing the spectacular scenery of a new country from the back of a native horse, and glimpsing the true culture and everyday life of the local people. The Wild Andes Expedition Ride with host Gabriel Espinosa of Hacienda La Alegria, which I found through Unicorn Trails, offered a close-up view of life in the mountains at all elevations in the Ecuadorian Andes. We began with small rides in the fertile Machachi valley near the town of Aloag, approximately 45 minutes south of Quito, Ecuador’s capital. This included an overnight ride to a cloud forest, and advanced to clinging to the sides of mountain edges on sure-footed Criollo horses, climbing to elevations of up to 4,300 metres, and camping in villages not accessible by road. This ride offered an up-close-and-personal view of the 56
way of life, diverse vegetation, wildlife and scenery of Ecuador, all explored quite adventurously from the back of a comfortable, gaited Criollo. The Hacienda La Alegria, where the ride begins, was built by Gabriel’s grandfather in 1911 and houses the family on the still-active organic dairy farm. The 135-hectare ranch boasts approximately 230 dairy cattle and 65 horses; the geldings are used for the rides and the mares for breeding. Gabriel points out a one-week-old foal snoozing in the paddock next to the Hacienda’s flourishing garden. “We start with the Ecuadorian Criollo for character and sure-footedness, then breed in Arab for endurance, Uruguayan Criollo for strength, and the Andalusian for bigger bone structure,” he explains. Rodrigo, a young Ecuadorian man in rubber boots and a
Shawn with Chugo, a strawberry roan Criollo Paso Caminero with incredibly soft gaits.
Rodrigo follows the trail on the edge of the mountain.
SPRING SPRING2018 2018 :: :: CANADIAN CANADIANHORSE HORSEJOURNAL JOURNAL
In The Horse Industry By Margaret Evans
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> He stood there. Distant. Detached. From the centre of the ring, his blue eyes cruised the riders in the equitation hunter class as he called for them to change gait. Yesterday, I would have assessed the gaze of this horse show judge as critically observant of the skills and presentation of the riders. Now, I saw his gaze as predatory, calculating, cold. The night before, I had fallen victim to his sexual assault and I still felt the burning sting of his unwanted and uninvited demanding, invasive touch. And I felt the anger, the sense of misplaced shame, the confusion of colliding, intense emotions that sidelined my confidence. I hated him for the position he had put me in. But when he glanced in my direction there was no hint of recognition, his face a mask of anonymity. I simply didnâ€™t exist. 66
I get #MeToo. Iâ€™ve been there. That encounter with the judge at a horse show happened in the early 1970s when I was in my twenties and building my writing career. I had come to Canada from England and was well aware of the culture of flirting among office colleagues. Mostly, it was pretty harmless fun and did not cross the line to inappropriate innuendo. And it was part of the social culture of the time. But a line is crossed when that social culture becomes sexual harassment or assault, and when bullying and intimidation set a dangerous precedent. It is present in all industries and the horse industry is no exception.
It is disturbing that, in almost 20 years since 1999, sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining.
A coach makes inappropriate demands with a comment about being a “team player” and a hint at earning a place on the team. A trainer makes sexual demands with a vague promise that better opportunities will follow. A rider feels uncomfortable at the barn because the barn manager often stands too close and tries to make physical contact. Another rider struggles to control panic attacks in the face of the barn bully. Many horse people agree that it is almost unbelievable what perpetrators
have been able to get away with for so long. This magazine’s editor/publisher, Kathy Smith, knows full well similar kinds of experiences in the horse industry. “Sadly, we’ve all experienced it in some shape or form. I experienced it in my very first office job, as well as many times in the horse industry,” she says. “Coaches and clinicians can be intimidating, belittling, or make fun of a rider’s weight or physical characteristics. In the days before sports bras, most big-busted girls I knew simply refused to ride for fear of being made a laughingstock, terrified of being asked to sit the trot. I’ve taken clinics years ago where, instead of being told to sit up straight with shoulders back, the girls were told to ‘stick your boobs out.’ When I was about 12 years old, I told my middle-aged neighbour I did NOT need help mounting my horse bareback, but he rushed over anyway and grabbed me by the crotch while I was mounting, saying he was ‘helping me get on’ and he left his hand under my crotch until I kicked the horse forward to get away from him. This particular neighbour’s farm and horse pasture were adjacent to my elementary school, and the implications of that are not lost on me…” “I have worked in the the horse industry on and off for most of my life,” says April Ray-Peterson, sales and social media manager at Horse Community
Journals. “As a twenty-something woman, I remember one-night joking about the old hiring practices at my place of work. Apparently, the women had to put their hands behind their head and walk towards a wall, if their boobs touched the wall before their elbows did, they could work in a certain someone’s barn. I laughed about it at the time, feeling thankful that that test was not part of my job interview. But we still battled sexual harassment, gender biases, and less pay than the men who did the same job we did. I recall on multiple occasions our complaints in the barn being chalked up to being a ‘girly thing’ and therefore not worth discussing or resolving. Over the years, if I think about it, I can recall times I felt uncomfortable and even unsafe in the barn or at a horse show. Times I have been treated as less than, purely because of my gender. In an industry often dominated by women, it’s shocking that men have been able to rule the barns and show rings for so long. I, for one, look forward to seeing the #MeToo movement trickle down from Hollywood and into the horse industry.” The sad thing is that sexual harassment and bullying have been so common and pervasive that they have gone almost unnoticed or have been shrugged off with indifference. When I was a child, I was always offering to clean stalls at the local riding stable in return for a riding lesson or a half-hour hack. SPRING 2018
CANADIAN HORSE JOURNAL
PHOTO: ISTOCK/JOHNNY GREIG
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