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Tom Dorrance More than a Horseman

Epona TV Interview & Behind the Scenes at the Olympics Riding by Torchlight Dressage Debunked

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An Andalusian Stallion In Training

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In this issue Volume 66 Video “Epona TV - Behind the Scenes at the Olumpics, and An Andalusian Stallion In Training : Finding an Upright Carriage.” “Inspirational.”

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Conte pg 8 pg 90


tent Highlight s PG 162

pg 78

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Content s cont’d pg 112

pg 144 6

Volume 65 Training an Andalusian Stallion 274 pages of information. Cover Photo from Andalusian Stallion Milagro

On behalf of all of us at Horses For LIFE may the gift of the horses be with you always.

All material copyright protected by Horses For LIFE Publications. Please contact us for information, suggestions, comments and submissions at or 1-306-383-2588

Join Friends of the and become a Friend of the Horse. Horses For LIFE Publications is honoured to sponsor Friends of the Horse Thank you to the FEI for the coverage and photos of the Olympics. We recognize and salute Dressage &CT for their incredible contribution and as the inspiration for Horses For LIFE with the welcome blessing of Ivan Bezugloff Jr. the editor and founder of Dressage &CT.

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LONDO 2012

DRESSAGE AT THE OL Laura BECHTOLSHEIMER riding MISTRAL Hojris (GBR) in 2nd place after first day of team dressage. 8 Copyright: Kit Houghton/FEI

ON For Full Coverage of the Olympics Check out our Special Olympic Edition


Adelinde CORNELISSEN riding PARZIVAL. 10 Copyright: Kit Houghton/FEI

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Description: Yoshiaki OIWA (JPN) riding NOONDAY DE CONDE in the Eventing as Team & Individual, 1st after the Dressage phase of the Eventing competition. Copyright: Kit Houghton/FEI

Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa and Noonday de Conde produced a sensational test to take the individual lead after the dressage phase of Eventing at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Greenwich Park (GBR) today. Photo: FEI/Kit Houghton.


London (GBR), 29 July 2012 The quiet man from Japan steals Eventing dressage limelight


apan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa and Noonday de Conde produced a sensational test to take the individual lead in the closing stages of Eventing dressage at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Greenwich Park (GBR). The quietspoken 36-year-old admitted afterwards that he could hardly believe it. “I’m a bit shocked”, he said at the post-competition press conference. “Nobody expected it – as you can see there are not many Japanese media here!”.

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MARK TODD (NZL) riding Campino in the Eventing as Team & Individual, 3rd after the Dressage phase of the Eventing competition.

Copyright: 14Kit Houghton/FEI

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Description: The arena at Greenwich. Copyright: Kit Houghton/FEI

The fabulous London 2012 Olympic equestrian venue at Greenwich Park where Grand Prix Dressage was about to take centre stage for August 2nd 2012. Photo: FEI/Kit Houghton.


London (GBR), 1 August 2012 Olympic Dressage at Greenwich Park The German Olympic Dressage selection saga was a fascinating affair, with Dorothee Schneider earning her place alongside Kristina Sprehe and Helen Langehanenberg at the 11th hour as the premier German fixture at Aachen drew to a close less than four weeks ago. Even the appointment of first reserve was drama-filled, as first choice, Isabell Werth who has more Olympic titles than most people could fit in their trophy cabinet, had an injury scare with Don Johnson before deciding that, as a nine-year-old, the horse was too young for the Olympic challenge anyway. So Monica Theordorescu, whose Olympic history goes right back to Seoul in 1988 where she took team gold with Ganimedes, got the callup with Whisper, who subsequently came down with a fever which removed him from the Olympic panel. In the end it was Fabienne Lutkemeier and D’Agostino who made the trip to London. The scale of Germany’s strength and historical connection with Olympic competition is, however, further reinforced by their individual respresentative, Anabel Balkenhol whose father Klaus, is a man of legendary status in the dressage world as both a trainer and former Olympic champion. Horses For LIFE

At a US Dressage team press conference that morning, Tina Konyot had journalists and officials holding their sides with laughter as she revealed details of her Olympic preparations. Asked what steps she had taken in terms of physical fitness she replied: “I’m 50 and I’m looking pretty good, aren’t I? Every time I think of working out I go and have a lie down until that thought passes...” Konyot comes from a seventh-generation family with a circus background that has been involved with horses for a very long time. Her father, Alex Konyot, emigrated to the USA from Hungary in 1939 where he joined the military to earn citizenship before linking up with the Ringling Circus, and he trained Tina during her early career when there were few Dressage coaches working in America. Her Czechoslovakian mother was a high-wire walker who came to the World Fair in New York in 1939, and remains famous for being the only woman to walk the high-wire without a net. She performed her last high-wire


act in 1961, the year before her daughter was born, so Konyot has performance blood coursing through her veins. And her sense of humour is a breath of fresh air. She said she discussed embarking on an Olympic training programme with her boyfriend, but his answer reflected her own feelings on the matter. “You see I like shopping, that’s when I get my exercise, and he was very much on the same wave-length. He said, Tina you just do what you do best and go shop, shop, shop!” It’s some achievement to find herself in the US dressage team competing alongside Jan Ebeling and Steffen Peters at London 2011 however. So, when asked what message she would send back to young hopefuls in the US who have their own Olympic ambitions, Tina replied: “I’ve been competing since I was 15 years old and I’m now 50, so I would just say follow your dreams and never, ever give up!” She was first into the arena on Friday morning with Calecto V.

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Facts and Figures -


23 10 5 13 50

Nations Teams

Countries represented by a team and one individual Countries represented by an individual only


Riders in total

Laura BECHTOLSHEIMER riding MISTRAL Hojris (GBR) in 2nd place after first day of team dressage. Copyright: Kit Houghton/FEI

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Carl HESTER riding UTHOPIA in 1st place after first day of team dressage. 22 Copyright: Kit Houghton/FEI

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Laura BECHTOLSHEIMER riding MISTRAL HOJRIS. 24 Copyright: Kit Houghton/FEI

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Adelinde26 CORNELISSEN riding PARZIVAL. Copyright: Kit Houghton/FEI

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Charlotte28 DUJARDIN riding VALEGRO. Copyright: Kit Houghton/FEI

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Description: Gold medal winning British dressage team. Copyright: Kit Houghton/FEI

Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Laura Bechtosheimer won dressage team gold August 7th 2012 at the London 2012 Olympic Games equestrian venue at Greenwich Park. Photo: FEI/Kit Houghton.


London (GBR), 7 August 2012 Olympic gold again for Great Britain as Dujardin leads the Dressage team to glory


ou could hardly have scripted it better as Great Britain’s Dressage riders scooped Olympic team gold today. The day before the equestrian venue at Greenwich Park resounded to the wild roars of the home crowd as their jumpers topped the team podium for the first time in 60 years. Today it was the turn of Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin to bring spectators to their feet in celebration of the first-ever British Dressage medals in the history of the Games - and, even better, they were also golden ones.

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DUJARDIN Dujardin started out as a horse-crazy youngster, leaving school early to pursue her dreams of a life in the horse world and working her way through a series of jobs as groom and rider until, one day, Hester sat on a six-year-old horse she had produced. He had spotted it on a “talent day” when young horses were being viewed by prospective buyers, “and I asked if I could ride it” he explained today, “I could feel that it was very well trained considering its age and experience and I told her she had done a great job” he explained. The story goes that Dujardin went to work for Hester for 10 days and has been there ever since. “What she has that makes her a great rider is feel, and an amazing temperament” Hester said today. With gold hanging in the balance, Hester told her before she went into the arena, “some people wish it would happen, some people hope it will happen, you’re going to make it happen Charlotte!” And she did just that with a performance that earned the highest score of the day, 80.571. “Charlotte is unbelievable, and he’s the best horse in the world!” Hester


said afterwards. The pair only made their debut at Grand Prix level in February 2011, yet this extraordinary partnership today won Olympic gold for Team GB. In the battle for bronze, Denmark overtook Sweden when Nathalie Zu Sayn Wittgenstein and Digby posted 75.730 but, last to go, The Netherlands’ Adelinde Cornelissen pushed them both aside when her double FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion Parzival delivered the second-best score of the day, 81.968. It was a landmark day for the Dutch, as Anky van Grunsven added team bronze to her vast collection, becoming the most medalled competitor in the history of Olympic equestrian sport. The defending individual Olympic champion, and the only Dressage rider to take three back-to-back Olympic titles, earned her ninth Olympic medal in Greenwich Park.

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Charlotte34 DUJARDIN riding VALEGRO individual Gold medallist dressage. Copyright: Kit Houghton/FEI

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Riding By Torchlight

Dressage Debacled and Debunked 36

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Riding By Torchlight By Susannah Cord for Horses For Life

Dressage Debacled and Debunked Another year, another Olympics. Another day, another dollar. Another scam, another scandal, another lie, another cover-up, another weak and empty press release to leave me shaking my head and rolling my eyes. Oy vey. Welcome to just another day in the life of FEI Dressage. Paradise, it is not. If it weren’t for the horses involved it would be funny. In fact, I admit when I first saw the Epona TV video of the Dutch team training


behind sickeningly Pepto-Bismol pink screens in the ‘SEVERELY GUARDED AND THREATENING SEVERE PUNISHMENT TO BE SEVERELY METED OUT, YOU WILL BE BANISHED, OFF LIMITS’ arena, and in my mind’s eye pictured the journalist hiding and dangling from the trees and fences, I laughed. I mean, talk about the height of irony. Hyperflexed horses viewed through a rose colored haze…and talk about hitting an all time low in the sport of so called dressage. Now the press is denied access and forced to engage in dressage paparazzidom to get a dose of what used to be common practice – the press attending a training session. Nope, no way, no how the FEI and the revered riders have anything to hide. Except, now we may watch our top riders in the world only in the show ring after they have dug their horses out of the ditch they forced, pushed, pulled, dragged and cranked them into. Subscribe at to read the full article. Horses For LIFE

Horses For LIFE Interview with Epona TV


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And that is exactly the point the journalists at Epona TV wanted to make. As they say in the following interview “Our job is to look for answers and publish them if and when we find them. It’s important for us to make clear that we are not activists – we have no agenda other than exposing the truth. It’s up to others to take what we uncover and run with it if there is anything to run with.” Wanna take a run with us? The following is an interview with Epona TV journalists and founders, Julie Taylor and Luise Thomsen. The Horses For LIFE Interview with Epona TV SC: Tell us about your trip to London – why were you not going, and why did you go?


The London trip was a last minute idea. We weren’t going to go because we knew we were not going to get accreditation. However, when we saw the St. Georg photos, we changed our minds. At first we hoped that someone would take some video, but then it became clear that press was not allowed in the warm up areas. We couldn’t believe that it was entirely impossible to get some shots. After all, Greenwich Park is surrounded by buildings – some very tall. We thought we might have to climb a tree or need a tele lens, but we were pretty sure it could be done. Certainly, we had to try. Since the FEI had said the St Georg photos were “misleading”, all we had to do was document that this was not the case. There was no longer any need to prove that hyperflexion was occurring for a certain period of time, because by denying that it was happening at all, the FEI had changed the game. Subscribe at to read the full article. Horses For LIFE

In our Series Training of an Andalusian Stallion, our intent is to show not the final product - but the journey to the final product. We have followed this Andalusian Stallion in Training for several years through the pages of the magazine. Most professionals are happy to share those picture perfect moments. Far fewer are willing to show you those moments that are not perfect.. As professionals they of course have a reputation that they need to maintain. But if you are training your horse it is vital that you understand those moments that lead up to those picture perfect moments. This young stallion has been exceedingly slow to mature. And it has just been over the past year that we have really been able to put him to work other than some very basic riding. We began with gentle lateral work and were ablle to use the canter to create lift and a new realization of carriage. See The Bouncing Basketball. He is just now realizing that we are welcoming his efforts to play in his gaits. This was one of his first forays in that understanding. He has just come to understand that we welcome a new level of carriage and the following shots show him offering any number of options! We sometimes forget that carriage and collection is as much a function of the horse’s mind as it is body. All these various offerings was this young stallions mind at work. Every offering was welcomed, encouraged, literally cheered on from the sidelines. He loves being told what a pretty boy he is. We first have the film of his efforts - then we are pleased to provide you a frame by frame out-takes of the original film. It is amazing what we can learn when we have the opportunity to do a frame by frame analysis of movement. Something that we have done for many years and are happy to be now being able to offer within the magazine.

Training of An Andalusian Stallion

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An open knee, thigh and pelvis allow the horse to lift through the base of the neck. Dr. Brie Hamblin


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When the horse yields to the rider, there is a fine line of discretion between yielding more to the horse or taking. Dr. Brie Hamblin


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Excerpt TOM DORRANCE More Than a Horseman

By Magaret Dorrance and John Saint Ryan From the Chapter by BRYAN NEUBERT Subscribe at to read the full article. 52

Tom’s brother Bill was my close neighbor when I was still living where I was raised in Salinas California. He introduced me to Ray Hunt and I ended up working for him four times. Sometime after working for him he asked if I knew Bill’s brother Tom. I told him I bought a colt from the ranch that Tom worked for when I was about 15, I met him, but that was about it. Ray really encouraged me to get to know Tom as he lived right close as well. I remember when I did meet Tom, I was real nervous, but he made me feel comfortable real soon. We chatted a while and he said, “There’s something you need to realize before we even get started. I can’t teach you anything.” (My heart just sank for a second), and then he continued, “But I’m going to do everything I can to help you learn.” I thought at the time it was a contradiction but it wasn’t at all. Later we spent the weekend together. I had brought some horses I wanted help with and I got real excited about what we worked on. Horses For LIFE

A Somber Farewell by SUSANNAH CORD


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e are away again, this time in the Land Rovers. We trundle into the bush, and soon we are enthralled by the sleek, multi colored hides of Topi antelope, their long faces turning to watch us pass in what appears to be something of a dense if contented stupor. They may be beautifully colored with their reddish brown bodies and slate grey almost dark purple patches on their upper legs, and they have a very picturesque habit of standing atop termite hills in stark relief to the azure sky, their faintly curved, backwards arching horns stabbing at the empty air, but the brightest light on the block I think they are not. Archie confirms this notion, though I am not sure either of us have any real right to, or proof of, this prejudice. 56

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There are plenty of them so either they are inordinately lucky, good breeders or they have some clue about what they are doing. Topis are highly social and where there is one there are bound to be more, and so we get to enjoy the antics of the herd as a late season gangly baby the size and color of a fawn startles and sets a little play into motion. She skips and bucks and the adults join in sporadically, even if just for a stride or two before settling back into sedate Topihood. 58

We are becoming accustomed and even a little blasĂŠ to the ever present herds of roaming zebra, but a special bonus and never ending source of glee are the many foals. With their baby faces, punk-rocker manes and spindly legs, their cuteness is undeniable as they caper around their mamas, looking for all the world like a horse foal in striped pyjamas. As we drive across an open plain dotted with bouncing wildlife, the Land Rover is home to much laughter, brought on by playful foals and receptive spirits lifted on this glorious drive across the African savannah. But our mood takes a sudden turn into solemnity when we come upon the decimated remains of a bull elephant. The faint but still present smell of decomposition indicates that his demise was relatively recent. His cadaver is spread out over a large area, dragged hither and thither by hyenas and other carrion feeders, and it seems to me an indecent and undignified manner in which this great, intelligent beast must have met his end, and his body its virtual desecration. Horses For LIFE


The huge skull, picked clean of flesh, shows the telltale signs of the vicious blade that carelessly hacked from their root the treasure for which he was murdered. And murder it is. Killed by poachers for the ivory tusks that will bring them thousands of dollars on a black market indifferent to the possible extinction of this majestic species that has wandered the plains in multitudes for millennia, his bones tell a tragic tale of an unending war in the fight for the elephant’s survival. Conservationists lay the blame mainly on China and the Far East where the economy is improving and the demand for ivory, used for

ornamentation and in traditional Asian medicines, is on the rise. Tristan walks us through the bones, here a pelvis, here a leg, a chunk of hide, a rib, a length of spine, a lower jaw boasting still the massive molars that he points out are likely the last set of the 6 sets of molars an elephant will, given the chance, grow in his lifetime. He estimates the bull to have been some 40-50 years of age with another 1015 still to go, had he not met with a poacher’s bullet or poison arrow, sped on by greed and need, as well as a callous society’s penchant for ivory.

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Everywhere are the telltale signs of a tragedy that is playing out all too often across this dark and magnificent continent. The mood has changed, frustration and anger evident in Tristan’s face and tone as he speaks of the troubles Africa faces today, from black market prices inducing poaching of elephant and rhino to exploding overpopulation and the resulting frightening statistics of an ever increasing population demanding its due, a due that threatens to overwhelm this part of the world in just 20 years. I wonder at what it takes to face this reality with optimism every day, a sudden indefinable sorrow and regret settling in my heart as I look at what is left of a once magnificent, intelligent beast, and ponder the far reaching consequences that led to his death in the first place. I suspect I am not alone, and as we leave the spot, Barbara says quietly: “I feel like we should have left flowers.� I can only nod.


That night, snug in my camp bed with my hot water bottle, I think of the bony remains of a great creature of the plains that will walk no more, his bones bleaching in a merciless sun, and while his ivory tusks are ground to a pulp somewhere in Asia, his rumbling will never again be felt across the savannah and far reaches of Kenya. Horses For LIFE


I consider the purpose of my trip, at best a personal quest, at worst sheer entertainment, a story to tell to gaping friends back home, and I realize that while I am having the time of my life, it may at times be just another day at the office for our hosts who are faced with the struggles and challenges of Africa on a daily basis. They cannot help but bear witness to the slow but almost sure decimation of a magnificent country that is losing the connection to the very nature that made it what it is and the useless, decadent slaughter of innocent animals for human gain. But more sobering by far, is the thought that what for me is an adventure, and for them is a job, albeit a good one, for the elephant is a daily struggle for survival, a matter of life and death and the survival of their species. I say a little prayer for the elephant that was, and offer him God speed and a somber farewell.

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Birds of a Feather We come out of the valley at a walk to find a horseman’s dream of a plain stretch out before us. Flat, open grass clipped short by hungry teeth. It’s on our way and we mean to cross it, and if I know Tristan at all by now, it will be at speed. I welcome the opportunity after the last hour of picking our way through the rocky brush and thorny thoughts. I look ahead to where we are headed, scouting my route. A small herd of giraffe are passing in regal statehood off to our right, away from us, but ahead the land is well populated by zebras, Tommies and the occasional Impala. Tristan pauses and waits for everyone to gather up, then speaks the by now increasingly familiar words: “Shall we have a little trot then, maybe a canter? We do have a lot of ground to cover before lunch.”


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I have a tingling feeling this will be a good one – it is the first time we really get to gallop across ground well populated with game. We trot the usual few strides and ease into canter, and right away, Libra feels different. It is as if he knows something I don’t, or has sensed my anticipation. The giraffes begin to run, away from us and our direction of travel, but the zebra and Tommies almost seem to want to join us. There is a sense of carnival in the air, with all the flashing stripes and outrageous headpieces and the game is doing the rhumba. They begin to run, bucking and leaping and kicking up their tough little heels, and they are just ahead on a line that will leave them alongside us. Tristan is steering right for them, and Cape to Cairo is pulling us along in her wake. Oh. My. God… I whisper and it is a prayer, a blessing, a wish. An exultation.

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Here. We. Go. I remember the old adage about throwing your heart over the jump and going after it, and fling my heart across the savannah even as I stamp out a brief thought on herd behavior and will the horses want to join in with the wild beasts? 72

That would make for one spectacular rodeo, never mind the rhumba. Then I pull myself back to the task of riding a horse who is clearly picking up on the excitement ahead. We are also picking up a head of steam and Libra is awake, wide awake and pulling. Faster, faster he urges me, eggs me on. Come on, let’s go, lady! I am just off to Tristan’s left side and slightly behind and trying to stay that way, mindful he is the boss and akin to the Master of the Hunt, and you do not pass the Master of the Hunt unscathed. Besides, he knows where we are going and I most certainly do not, though I threw my heart in the general direction. Libra and Cape to Cairo may well be in cahoots, for soon she is steadily picking up speed and Libra matches her, stride for stride, gunning for the zebras ahead. Horses For LIFE

Libra shows his true colors and I like them - he may be a kind and gentle soul who walks easily on a loose rein, but he is also a Thoroughbred. All Thoroughbred. And he wants to get in front and stay there. I wrap my legs down and around him and sway with his lengthening strides, my hands resting on either side of his neck, following the pumping of his head. I do a mental check, breathe, knees down, toes up, stretchy calves, breathe, it’s all good and I give in to the pure sensory sensation of skimming across the pale sandy ground, with a slight concession to watching for Aardvark holes. Libra is right there in my hands and my back, we are in it together even if he is more or less in charge – of speed anyway - and all I need is a little weight in a stirrup or a slight closing of a hand and he responds as smoothly as power steering. We veer gently around holes and rocks, keeping Tristan ahead on our right, and I wish I could look back


to see how the rest are faring but I don’t dare. We are not anywhere near flat out, but it is a nice fast hand gallop and I am not sure everyone is quite accustomed to that yet.

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We are catching up now to the herds of zebra and antelope, and they race alongside us


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We are catching up now to the herds of zebra and antelope, and they race alongside us and to the right, while further ahead the front runners are arcing in a far-flung line that stretches in front of us and directly across our path, headed left at a flat out gallop of their own,


kicking up dust that hangs in the air as the horns of the bounding impala glint in the sun. The savannah is wide open and the game is scattered wide by our approach, and I am wondering whether we just go through their line and what

kind of antics that might inspire in our mounts when Tristan bears left on a soft curve and we are once more racing on an almost parallel path to the now disbanded wildlife, giraffes far off to the right on a tangent to our general direction. Dust is rising but we are leaving it in its own proverbial dust as the game finally clears off right and left and we are cleared for take-off. We fan out on a straight line in the direction of our travel, west, and the horses are run-

ning freely, if not as hard as they can, for nobody dares quite go there. I hear nothing beyond the whistling wind in my ears and Libra’s steady breathing, pushed from his lungs by the pumping of his legs as the tears are squeezed from my eyes by the wind. He is young and strong and I borrow from him all the joy and freedom in running he will lend me. We are birds of a feather, and the wind sings in our name.

ing iDust i s ri s i n g but we are leavt i n i t s own proverbi a l dust as theandgame Fi n ally clears off ri g ht left andtake-off. we are cleared for ” “

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We come out of the valley at a walk to find a horseman’s dream of a plain stretch out before us.


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An Offering of Hope A full stomach, a full day and a full heart later, I find myself snuggled up in a comfortable chair by the fire with, somehow, (and I am not mentioning names but it was the fault of either Piers, Archie or Tristan), yet another glass of wine in my hand, and I am thinking I am probably done for the night. Everyone has a slightly glazed look on their faces as the firelight flickers across the clearing and I suspect I am not alone in thinking ‘bed’ has a most appealing ring to it. After all, it has been a magnificent day and I cannot imagine it can get any better than this. Surely not. But Tristan suddenly stirs himself and offers up a night drive. I am hesitating, weighing my desire to miss 82

not a moment of anything against my equal desire for bed, but not so Elizabeth who practically jumps out of her chair with enthusiasm and a heartfelt ‘Yes!’ I sit for a moment and gaze at her in admiration, then manage to get to my feet and offer a sincere if not as energetic ‘Absolutely.’ There are some 5 or 6 of us that scrape the bottom of our barrels and find enough dregs to haul ourselves to the Land Rover. A serious plus is that Tristan suggests we bring our wine. We can bring our wine!? Hallelujah, watch me go. I climb up top to my customary spot on the back roof and settle in with my glass, happily considering the prospect of

bumbling through the Kenyan night, star-studded sky above and wine in my glass below. It strikes me as decidedly decadent and wonderfully fun and I realize I keep coming back to that word. Fun. I am having more fun in the past 48 hours than I can remember having in a year.

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All of the daily worries and concerns have been left behind in our rampage through the Kenyan dust, carelessly flung over my shoulder to evaporate in the noon sun, and now there is no burden to suppress nor sense of strain to catch even a splinter of the joy that keeps welling up in me. I am bobbing along on a sea of happiness ebbing and flowing with the rhythm of our days. As the Rover departs my glass splashes a little which necessitates a swift imbibing of about half the glass unless my neighbors below are to be wearing my treasured beverage, and I wonder for a moment how that will go with the rest of the wine I have already drunk tonight. As it turns out, my legs are decidedly hollowed out by the long ride today, and I am just fine and dandy and very, very chipper as I sway with the motion of the Land Rover covering the rough road. I am already glad I mustered up the good sense to go along, and we have not even seen an animal yet. It’s the balmy night, the sense of gaiety in us all and the always spectacular stars above twinkling as if they were as merry as I feel. I have no ex-


pectations of this night drive, after all the day we have had has left me sated and content and I am honestly not sure if I can take in any more. But I will have to, because the Land Rover slams to a stop and before us in the tall, yellow grass lies, very calm and sedate, a rare sight – a Serval Cat. Although he is without a glass of wine, he looks every bit as snug in his nest of flattened grass as I felt just a few minutes earlier in my chair, and I almost want to apologize to him for disturbing his night’s peace. But I settle for a silent ‘thank you for showing yourself’ and drink him in instead, for the present forgoing other libation. His huge pale yellow eyes and the richness of his speckled coat are a little washed out by the color-draining glare of the torch, but his Horses For LIFE

beauty is otherwise untouched as he simply lies there, watching us as closely as we watch him, all feline grace and intensity despite his small size. Lying in the grass he looks about the size of a greyhound, and when he stands, finally, his long legs confirm this impression. His ears flick as Kelly’s camera begins its rapid clicking and I am relieved she brought her camera tonight and will catch this exquisite creature in her lens for us to enjoy again, some day when we are once more far from this place. I am shaking my head gently, not quite believing our luck, and yet the moment has a sense of inevitability about it, as if it could be no other way. Writer’s imagination or no, I can’t help but think there is something extraordinary going on with this safari, a feeling that has haunted me since we passed through my Eden, that there is more to come and that all that is required


to sustain our luck is a continual state of awareness, an allowance for something larger and more mysterious than ourselves to take our hand and show us the way. Well, come on in, I think, or let me come on out, and either way I picture opening a door to the great unknown with all the grace of an English gentleman. And so I am almost not surprised when the torch, immediately upon leaving the Serval Cat who has finally grown bored with us and is slinking away through the grass to the rapid fire clicking of cameras, finds and fulfills my wish of earlier that evening. An enormous grey boulder is moving carefully in the wash of the light, by her side a somewhat smaller boulder moving equally as tentatively to face us as we inch closer. A great smile dawns on my face and I know it goes from ear to ear. Ellies! I whisper and I am beyond content and well into bliss.

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There is about elephants an immeasurable sense of time, time passed and time to come, as immovable and enduring as the boulders they resemble. In their eyes resonates the wisdom of the ages, a strange amalgam embodying a sadness, a promise, a fierce strength and a stalwart tenderness that never fails to move me with a melancholy that yet, somehow, closely resembles an offering of solace. I cannot look at an elephant without feeling this profound stirring deep 88

down, as if once upon a time, I knew an elephant well enough to give away a piece of my heart. Never to forget, and never to stop feeling its absence, a memory twice mourned and doubly cherished. Tristan is whispering that this is a fully grown female in the company of what is likely her own 4 or 5 year old daughter when Archie starts in agitation. “What’s that in the grass?” he whispers fervently. We all stare, the torch carefully moving over the elephants and the grass at their feet, trying to be respectful and revealing all at once. The two elephants shuffle slowly as if trying to decide a course of action, to leave, to stay, to do nothing at all. And that is when we see him.

ioutcannot look at an elephant wi t hfeeli n g thi s profound sti r ri n g deep down, as i f once upon a ti m e, I knew an elephant well enough to give away a piece of my heart. Horses For LIFE

He is trying to stand but his legs are still wobbly and weak. His tiny trunk is waving in the air, reaching for his mother and sister and they move close, touching him with their own. He clambers to his feet, a diminutive giant, ears fanning as if to help him lift up and then he just stands there, uncer90

tainly, and new, so very, very new to this big wide world that holds such danger and unpredictability for him and his kind. His sister moves immediately closer to his side, lending support both moral and physical. On his mother’s legs we can still see the blood from a birth that cannot be but one or two hours ago. From his little navel hangs a length of umbilical cord, and were we in doubt at all as to the recent nature of his arrival, we need only look to his slow progress. For such stout little legs they appear decidedly insecure, as he takes one small step and then another, teetering a little this way and that, only to stop and look at his family as if to say “Really? Already? But I just got here.�

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I feel like we should leave, allow them this time in peace, but they are already up and on the move and in all likelihood, starting the Rover now would only stress them further. So I accept our intrusion and sit as quiet as a mouse, barely breathing. I am wide awake, present and accounted for, and the freewheeling joy of a few minutes before is blending with a deep sense of privilege, an almost unbearable keenness of gratitude that has me once again offering up the simplest of prayers. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We sit in awestruck silence as the mother, sister and her new little brother slowly, carefully, sister guiding him step by step by her side, make their way out of our headlights and into the dark cover of the brush. I don’t even crane my neck to see them go. I am collapsing in on myself and awash in a sea of love. I could close my eyes tight and I would still see them clear as day. They are carved on my heart, in the palm of my hand.


Every maternal instinct, every cell and fiber of tenderness in my body is fervently, fervidly, ferociously alive, fed by an overwhelming desire to protect and nurture this new little life that is valiantly making his way out of my sight, step by wavering step. I want to reach out and hold him, hug his warm little body and stroke those big ears, tell him he is welcome, welcome and wanted and a miracle, a miracle of life, a miracle of hope in a world that too often knows only death and suffering and a poverty of mind, body and soul. I want to speak charms and lay spells, bind him in an armor of protection so deep no poisoned spikes nor arrows nor poacher’s bullet can ever penetrate and stop his beating little heart. I want to wrap him in bubble wrap and send him scores of angels to fly by his side and keep him safe for evermore. I want to write litanies of prayers and songs of praise, but most of all, I just want him to live.

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“I am in a daze all the way home. I have seen a live elephant, yes, but I have seen more than that. I have seen the beginning of a LIFE and it is an offering of HOPE, of PITY, JOY and SORROW, bookends of that great circle that is Life, a song we all know but seldom sing, rather we shy away from the first strains and pretend to have94 forgotten the tune.�

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I am in a daze all the way home. I have seen a live elephant, yes, but I have seen more than that. I have seen the beginning of a life and it is an offering of hope, of pity, joy and sorrow, bookends of that great circle that is Life, a song we all know but seldom sing, rather we shy away from the first strains and pretend to have forgotten the tune. In just a few moments, this little elephant has ameliorated some of the heartbreak inflicted by the past two days of mourning the bones of his ancestors. It is as if Nature is saying Here, I will show you the best and the worst and you make of it what you will, but make something. BE here. Be awake. Pay attention. And make something of these wonders that I show you. I will, I swear to myself, I will. I don’t know how, but I will.


The swishing curtains fall softly back into place and close the scene on this great, wild and erstwhile theater as we drive home. It is dark and the night quiescent and I am still far away in my mind when we arrive. I jump down, forgetting entirely the wineglass in my lap and it falls to the floor of the Rover and breaks into pieces. I would be embarrassed and apologetic but I can’t quite seem to care as I pick up the pieces in the light of Tristan’s torch. I offer a mumbled apology but I am far away in a corner of my mind that dreams of a life for this little newborn boulder of the plains and of the hills alike, a life in a grandeur of nature that will never be touched, spoiled or broken, a hidden valley, a distant land, a Utopia of all creatures great and small where life and death may go hand in hand as nature must but it is never in hand with vicious spikes and fleets of bullets.

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As I wander towards my tent, full and in wonderment still, I hear Anita remark “What a day.” To which Tristan responds “Yes. Yes, indeed. It’s been a red letter day. By any standards, it’s been a red letter day.”

What Then, Will Elephants Dream Of? A soft, diffuse dream still whispers in the quiet of my sleepy mind, vague shapes drifting through shadows, emotions pearling on the webs of my mind in vanishing droplets like dew on a petal in the first rays of a molten sun. I have dreamed of my mother. A dream blurry and indistinct, lost to my awakening with just a whiff of her essence left to tease me, leaving in its wake a longing swiftly followed by the sharp edge of pain from the cold blade of reality that cuts through dreams to remind me she is gone, departed, deceased. No more. For her grave tells me so…


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I am weary of farewells. I turn and curl up, burrow deeper into my blankets, warding my body against the frigid draft seeping through the open window and the day that awaits me, as if I could then also cushion and shelter my heart from the pain that lives within it and waits ahead. It is foolishness. I know there is no escaping the weeping of wounds yet to be healed, wounds of the heart and soul.


I cast about for a different tack, like a fly fisherman of the mind I fling out a hook to search for relief, a thought to ease my discomfort. The line drifts lazily through my mental fog and snaps from its aerial grace to taut attention. I reel in an elephant. I giggle sleepily at the image. So many I have seen, so much I have heard, sights and sounds to thrill, fill and haunt me. From the finality of hard and cracked, snow white bones crying out their sad story in the green grass to the joy of a new life witnessed and baptized in my happy tears, I have been found and met in a new sense of purpose. I am not much wiser than I was before, and my sense of direction remains hazy and incomplete, but I am more certain somehow that where I place my feet I will find a step.

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In my early morning doze I dream of elephants. It is not a happy dream, it mirrors the thoughts that preceded it. Elephants mourning their dead as I have mourned my mother, they file in single procession past the body of their loved one, trunks reaching out to gently touch and caress this still, cold corpse that once was their relative, their friend, their child, their mother‌leaving branches and leaves to cover the body as we ourselves cover our dead with flowers. Nimble trunks reach and rest, quiet and dwelling in remembrance, eloquent in their grief, eyes deep and dark and wet as they rumble a song of times gone by, times when the remains before them lived and breathed and loved with a heart great and fierce in its feeling for family and tribe. As I return every year to the grave of my mother to light candles and remember, so the elephants return year after year to touch and stand by the bones of those


they have lost, bones now bleaching and fading to dust. Still, they return, they remember another who once walked in their midst as they travelled the lands of Africa in ever dwindling numbers. What other animal does this? None I can think of. I cringe in the warm huddle of my bed when I think these are the very animals who find reason to mourn deeply every day when another member of their tribe is slaughtered for financial gain.

Elephants mourni n g thei r dead as I have mourned my mother, they Fi l e i n si n gle processi o n past the body of thei r loved one, trunks reachi n g out to gently touchthatandonce caress thi s sti l l, cold corpse was thei r relati v e, thei r fribranches end, theirandchileaves ld, theirtomother....leavi n g cover the body as we ourselves cover our dead wi t h Flowers.� “

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In my half sleep I remember, I dream on, a dream of the elephants that came from miles away to mourn Lawrence Anthony, the man who saved their lives when he made them a home in the Thula Thula Game Reserve in South Africa, fought their fight as others clamored for their death. How could his elephants know he had died? They were miles away.Yet two herds who had not vis-


ited his compound in over a year made the long trek independently of one another, a long procession of grey solemnity that arrived only days after his death and stayed for only two days before leaving once more, returning to the wild he had given them. I wake from my dreamy doze and stare at the ceiling. By some accounts, despite growing and des-

perate efforts, the elephant may be gone from our wild lands in just twenty short years – half of the lifetime that lies behind me. Yet… in my lifetime, in the years to come. The elephant – extinct. It seems impossible, but I have seen the threat with my own eyes. Though I’d rather not, I believe.

taken for granted since childhood, gazing out a window, or from the back of a horse, resting and feasting my heart and eyes on a herd of wild elephants as they live the life intended for them, will not be afforded the children of my nieces and nephew. No longer a dream of future adventure for small children, but And it hits me. The priv- a memory for the old womileges I have known and an I will become.

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“By some accounts, despite growing and desperate efforts, the elephant may be gone from our wild lands in just twenty short years – half of the lifetime that lies behind me. Yet… in my lifetime, in the years to come. The elephant – extinct. It seems impossible, but I have seen the threat with my own eyes.”


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What then will elephants dream of, I wonder? When our future generations drag their children to the zoo or the circus to see the last surviving African elephants in the world, what then will these elephants, confined to dying the slow death, chained and confined, the nightmare of a creature built to travel through wide open spaces, what then will he dream of? I can but guess. His loved and his lost, an-


cestors he never knew but hears calling in the timbre of his rumble, and a land he has not seen or from which he was ripped and now struggles mightily to recall as the walls close in and crowd out all his memories. When the last wild elephant has come and gone the way of ignorance and indifference, when the last wild elephant stumbles to his knees in a blaze of

dust and sunlight and bullets and succumbs to the axe of a poacher, what will there be left to dream - for any of us? What else will we lose in the tidal wave that will follow in his wake as the elephant leaves our world forever? When the savannah ceases to function as it has for millennia because the guardians of the grasslands lie rotting and crumbling and forgotten in the harsh glare of civilization’s advance, and

the eco system begins to fail and the species fall like dominoes, hard upon one another, one harder than the one before, and the great, intricate web of what makes this planet tick from north to south, east to west begins to falter and the blows fall hard and fast, what then? It will be too late for all but regrets. And they will stick in our throats with all the bitterness of gall.

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When we pay the piper at the gate and show our children the sad chained remains of a keystone of the irreparably fractured ecology we leave them as our last will and testament, what will we say? Will we weave tales of how the majestic elephant once roamed the earth and led mankind out of his cradle into a brave new world? Will we paint them


a castle in the sky where the elephant sings his rumbling song to his tribes near and far, only to see it shatter to the sound of the disbelief in the laughter of our children as they tug on our hand in the direction of the ice cream cart? Tell them fairytales of elephants that travel miles to honor their dead, only to see eyes glazing over in boredom as they stare at the moth eaten, stuffed

animal behind the glass, for the chill and what lays a relic of a not so distant ahead. Though I am inpast. deed weary, my farewells pale in the light of these What will we say when considerations and I will the elephant becomes meet them with an open just another tale of Once heart, grateful for what is, Upon a Time in Africa? what has been and even Nothing. We will say noth- for what is lost. For as ing. There will be noth- long as there is life, there ing to say and all will be is hope. Where there is done. On our watch. hope, there is will and where there is a will, there I take a brave breath is a way. Where I place and slip out from under my feet, I will find a step. the duvet, brazing myself

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The night that was weighed heavily on my heart with the dread for today. Now the sun breaks through the grey mists of daybreak and slips over the horizon, golden and serene, parting the cool vapors with promises of warmth and opportunity. I stand by the window and look into her glowing face, smiling, unfolding, opening to her silent song that spills across the somnolent land and wakes the birds to their own singing. I feel secrets unfurl and dancing upon the luminous rays that pierce the clouds and reach for the earth like helpful hands. Secrets of life reborn, renewed. Regained. Secrets of the light about which we know so little and yet without which we would be but dust dancing on the winds of cold, cold space. I look into the light and listen close, with heart and mind and a trembling in my soul. The light beckons, answers to unspoken questions stirring, forming just beyond my mind’s reach. Trust, I hear, a whispering of sun and breeze and leaves. Trust. Step forward into this day, into the light of a new day, and trust. Trust in this, the original source of all life. Trust and move with confidence, for where you place your feet, you will find a step. Trust and heed the call and go, just go and don’t look back. Katika Nuru. Into the Light.


It’s time to get up, I think. In more ways than one.

Susannah Cord was born in Denmark and raised there and in Africa, providing a childhood of diversity and extraordinary experiences that left an indelible mark and ultimately helped inspire the project Katika Nuru, Calling Me Home. Susannah now lives with her husband Alex on a small horsefarm in Texas. She is a lifelong horsewoman and the author of the illustrated children’s book, ‘Fenella, A Fable of a Fairy Afraid to Fly’ (also an eBook and on CD) and the column, ‘Riding by Torchlight’ at In between riding, training, teaching and hosting clinics with her mentor Stephanie Millham, she spends her time writing and travelling, and is currently working on several exciting new projects, chief among them Katika Nuru. A dedicated Classical Dressage rider, Susannah was recently appointed as a rider for the Foundation for Classical Horsemanship. For more on Susannah Cord, please visit

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Like to read the rest of the story? Be one of the first! We were so inspired by reading this series of articles that we realized that the author Susannah Cord had actually created this incredibly powerful book that really needs to be shared so we have been working hard and long behind the scenes figuring out how could we help make this happen. We reached out to the public and the response has been overwhelming. Prebook to get your copy of Katika Nuru, the story, the pictures and the video. Check out our REWARDS!


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What is Katiku Nuru? Join us on a Journey in Photography, Film and the Written Word. A Book that with the ingenious use of new technology will come alive in Print, as an Interactive Online Book and on DVD... Katika Nuru, Calling Me Home In March 2012, Author Susannah Cord embarked upon what was to be the adventure of a lifetime - a dream vacation, a riding safari across the Kenyan savannah, about which she would write for our magazine. But what happened next exceeded all expectations.


A book is emerging, a remarkable book that has sparked a groundbreaking multi-media project detailing an adventure experienced against the backdrop of Kenya and her beauty and challenges. An adventure of body, heart, mind and spirit as the safari and Kenyan wilderness worked it’s magic on a receptive soul. A book that asks the questions: Who and what are we really, have we forgotten, and what may we become when we remember once more? And what will become of us if we don’t?

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Riding By Torchlight In

Africa By Susannah Cord for Horses For LIFE


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Training An Andalusian Stallion Horses For LIFE Magazine  

From the Olympics, to riding in a safari, to Training an Andalusian Stallion, enjoy this issue of Horses For LIFE Horse Magazine