Inspection Season Begins Warmblood registries take their tours Vol. 1, No. 4
Florida Sporthorse Magazine 3
One Jump Ahead
Since running up his stirrups after a successful Grand Prix jumping career, Steve Stephens has found his calling as a course builder.
On the Road Again
Veterinarian Michael Porter, once a part of the University of Florida’s MEDS program has started his own mobile practice.
All in the Family
Tampa-based riding apparel company Devon Aire was started when a seamstress’s granddaughter needed properly-fitting breeches. The company has never lost that family focus.
15 9 Pony Power
In a sport dominated by warmblood giants, some riders are discovering that bigger is not necessarily better.
Build a Better Topline
Nutrition can help improve the key muscles important to all sport horses.
Reddick resident Sandi Lieb has made her mark on the state’s sporthorse breeding industry by raising champion Dutch Warmbloods.
20 Take a Drive With wit and wisdom, Jean White shares her experiences learning the sport of driving.
26 Learning to Follow Bryony Anderson gives tips for relaxing the pelvis in order to create a soft, following seat in the saddle.
30 The Heat is On Anhidrosis puts Florida horses at risk during the humid summer months.
32 Feeding the Foot Diet is crucial to maintaining healthy hooves.
Down to Earth
In part three of her series on the Chinese elements in horses, Debra Redmond discusses the virtues of the earth horse.
34 Inspection Calendar Major warmblood registries take their tours of Florida to inspect bloodstock.
4 Inside Florida Sporthorse
Back to school Christie Gold
he temperatures still hover in the mid-90s, despite the steady movement of the calendar. Day by day, week to week, beach balls are replaced with pencil boxes, Fourth of July sparklers with sharp-edged folders and sunscreen with staplers and notebooks. As a public school teacher for the past 18 years, this is more than a seasonal ritual; it is part of the natural rhythm of my life. This year, however, I will step out of the classroom and into a new job which will require that I evaluate my fellow teachers. I think I am uniquely qualified for my new position because I’ve never stopped being a student. This is true in nearly every aspect of my life, but perhaps most notably as a dressage rider. I hear that dressage is a discipline that takes two lifetimes to master. I think this is true. Although the major breakthroughs in my riding education seem to come on those quiet mornings when it is just my horse and me practicing, I am grateful for the generous teachers who have helped me on my journey. Great teachers dispel the notion that “those who can’t, teach.” One promise that I unfailingly made to my students was that I would never make them do something that I was not willing to do, could not do or had not done. The same should be true of a quality riding instructor. I want to see someone who has not only had success at the upper levels, but who has brought horses up through the levels, preferably on different types of horses--not just impeccably-bred prospects with mind-boggling price tags. In my tenure in the classroom, I taught both ends of the spectrum: students who were naturally gifted and those who were not. The trust test of my talent was my success with the latter rather than the former.
Great teachers have “withitness.” Classroom management theorist Jacob Kounin coined this term that refers to a teacher’s awareness of what is going on in the classroom, her ability to adjust in order to manage student behavior and better address each student’s needs. The “my way or the highway” method that some teachers adopt doesn’t foster learning; it only creates compliance. A good riding instructor brings her “bag of tricks” to every lesson. If one exercise doesn’t work, she suggests another. If one metaphor doesn’t help the rider understand, she uses another. She understands each student’s learning style and adapts her instruction accordingly. Great teachers engage in ongoing self-reflection. As a teacher, I often got so caught up in what was coming next that I rarely got to think about what had just happened. When I did stop to think about how I taught a lesson and how my students reacted, I improved. A good instructor talks to her client about the lesson and encourages the rider to ask questions. This dialogue is important in order for both parties to succeed. For riders, the final exam may be a horse show, but just as in a public school classroom, there is much more to learning than the score on a single test. Instructors must often remind their students of this. Most of all, great teachers love their jobs, and they believe that learning should be fun. As summer slides into fall and show season nears, let’s all focus on the goal of becoming lifelong learners both in and out of the saddle and show our gratitude for those who help us along the way.
About the cover “Gigi” by Golan and Dutch Vivacious xx and her foal Gigi by Golan.Gigi was bred by Gift Hill Farm and is owned by Patricia Michael in VA. Photo by Barbara Carry.
Editor and Publisher Christie R. Gold
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Senior Contributor Jane Whitehurst
8205 Quail Run Dr. Wesley Chapel, FL 33544 (813) 973-3770
Florida Sporthorse Magazine is committed to providing a quarterly publication that presents content encompassing a broad range of topics of interest to Florida’s dressage, eventing, hunter/jumper and sport horse breeding communities. It includes profiles of riders, trainers and breeders who are influential around the state and beyond, as well as product reviews of items of particular interest to Florida equestrians. Florida Sporthorse Magazine accepts freelance material on subjects that support our mission. Submission information is available at www.floridasporthorsemagazine.com or by calling or writing the editorial office.
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1. Jane Whitehurst Florida native Jane Whitehurst is a 1982 University of Florida
graduate from the College of Agriculture where she majored in Animal Science. In 1985, she received her master’s degree from Nova University in Educational Leadership. Jane recently retired from 20 years of teaching high school and is focusing on a second career as a writer. She is currently working on her second novel. For 25 years, she has been an active dressage competitor. She has a USDF Bronze and Silver medal and is currently working toward her Gold. Jane is married and owns two horses, two cats, one dog and a tank full of tropical fish.
2. Emily Weaver is a 2005 graduate of the University of Florida College of Veterinary
Medicine in Gainesville, Florida. After graduation she completed an internship at Manor Equine Hospital, a private ambulatory and surgical referral practice, in Monkton, Maryland. She joined the Odessa Equine Clinic in 2006. She enjoys all facets of equine practice but has special interests in wellness care, lameness and acupuncture. Emily has lived in Florida all of her life, and she grew up around horses, riding and competing in eventing and U.S. Pony Club. In her free time she enjoys riding and spending time with her husband and two dogs.
3. Christina Heddesheimer graduated Fall 2008 with a Bachelors of Science in Equine
Industry from The University of Florida. Her most recent riding activities include foxhunting with North Florida’s Misty Morning Hounds and training with eventer Patricia Deasy. She enjoys working with all types of horses, but is especially a fan of paint horses. Christina has been working in College Station, Texas, as the Office Manager of a boutique equine law firm called Alison Rowe Equine Legal Services. She will start law school in Virginia this fall.
4. Jean White is the owner of Hammock Farms in Brooksville, FL, where for the past 25 years she has trained students and horses from the lower levels to FEI. She earned her USDF Bronze and Silver medals, is a scholarship recipient from The Dressage Foundation, and won the Kimball Award at Prix St. Georges/Intermediare 1. Certified by the United States Dressage Federation as an Instructor through 4th level, Jean also participated in and attended many FEI Trainers Conferences, Musical Freestyle Symposiums, Regional and National Dressage Instructor Seminars, and National Dressage Symposiums. Jean continues to add to her knowledge of this sport through continuing education. Jean now teaches just the staff instructors at Hammock Farms. This allows her to use her extensive knowledge of riding to breed and produce the best Welsh Ponies and Andalusians with the easy trainability and soundness required for amateur and junior riders to excel in dressage and competitive driving.
5. Debra Redmond has trained and shown through the FEI levels of dressage and has gar-
nered over 20 regional and national awards. A riding injury led her to seek pain management through Eastern medicine. After experiencing relief first hand, she decided to study the modalities so that she could treat animals. She completed several programs and eventually earned a doctorate. She continues to be amazed at the body’s ability to heal, adapt, compensate and seek balance, and she loves being able to assist owners and animals in restoring health and movement through the modalities of body work, spinal balancing, acupuncture, laser, and homeopathy.
6. Bryony Anderson, RYT, LMT has been riding horses since childhood. She has been
practicing yoga for over 24 years, and began teaching in 1997. In addition to teaching yoga for equestrians, Bryony offers massage, Reiki, and Ortho-Bionomy for both horse and rider. The aim of her work is to help improve relationships between horses and humans by assisting both partners in experiencing better alignment and ease of movement in their bodies. She teaches weekly classes at Good Apple Equine in Ocala and also privately by appointment. Yoga for Equestrians audio CD’s are available at Ocala tack stores and on her website: www.movingintobalance.com.
6 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
A jump ahead
Steve Stephens once jumped Grand Prix fences. Now he builds them.
n 1971 a different kind of sport was introduced to the people of Tampa Bay. Under the bright lights of the old Tampa stadium, custom to illuminating football players, the first Grand Prix ever to be held in a stadium setting took place . Gene Mische, the guru and number one catalyst for the popularity of jumping and the promoter of Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), was the manager of the 1971 American Gold Cup. Spectators sat on the edge of their seats as they watched the competition come down to a nail-biting finish That night the crowning glory went to Steve Stephens riding Houdini, (owned and trained by Mische). They completed two clear rounds beating the favorite, Rodney Jenkins and Idle Dice, after Jenkins’ horse put a foot in the water jump costing them four faults. Almost 40 years later the tradition continues in Tampa Bay. The American Gold Cup moved up north long ago and was replaced by the equally successful American Invitational, the yearly grand finale of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The old Tampa stadium is now Raymond James Stadium, the prize money has increased from $15, 000 to $200, 000 and Steve Stephens now holds a different set of reins, as the course designer for the American Invitational. Stephens grew up on his stepfather’s tomato farm in north Manatee County long before the area became Port Manatee, one of the busiest seaports in Florida. At nine Stephens and his step-father entered a 100-mile endurance ride in Umatilla through the Ocala National Forest. Stephens and his pony had trained well and after completing the three-day competition won numerous awards in children’s divisions and in sportsmanship. But he did one even better. To everyone’s surprise he placed third overall beating out all but two of the adults. His prize
was a pair of red cowboy boots--adult, red cowboy boots. Nevertheless, little Steve placed them proudly on his feet and walked about the best he could. You could say he had big shoes to fill-- today those boots would be too snug. Later on Stephens interest turned to jumping, and his step-father took him to hunter/jumper shows at the Largo Fairgrounds, the Tampa Yacht Club, Delray and Winter Haven, which
Stephens estimates he has over 2000 poles. They come to him looking like giant pencils before being transferred into brilliant designs representing every color on an artist’s palette. were the popular venues at the time. During a show in Brooksville, a man came up to his step-father asking if he could hire Stephens as his new rider. His last rider, Rodney Jenkins, had left to train at Hilltop Stables in Virginia. Today, Stephens smiles with eyes the color of a liverpool as he recounts the conversation Gene Misch had with his step-father about the possibilities of taking the talented teenager with him back to his Fairfield Farm in Lake City. “My step-father told him he would have to follow us back down to Palmetto and ask my momma himself.” Fortunately, momma said yes, and at 15, Stephens became a professional rider for one of the most successful trainers at that time. Today, on a paneled wall in the office of Stephens Designs, next to a noisy window-
shaker blowing cool air, a long narrow frame holds six or so black and white photos in perfect sequence- taken long before digital cameras. They are of a horse and rider on their approach to a jump, the successful execution of the jump, then finally the landing and recovery from the jump. The rider is Stephens at barely 16 aboard Toy Soldier in a puissance class at Madison Square Gardens. One frame shows the horse’s belly brushing the top of the jump causing a piece of the wall to slide forward but not fall. Stephens won the class with that jump at a height of 7’1”. Stephens speaks easily of the past, sharing fond memories as he flips through albums and file folders of photographs. His successes as a Grand Prix rider are numerous, though one of his favorite wins was his last as a professional. In 1986 a horse named VIP seduced Stephens back into the irons after a brief retirement during which he had begun dabbling in building jumps and assisting in course design. On December 3, Stephens and VIP won the AGA Championships in Tampa. It was their 15th Grand Prix together with no poles down. The next day VIP was sold, and Stephens retired from riding for good. He would not sit astride another horse for 20 years until the 2007 Wellington winter season when he was asked to ride again. Stephens scoffs when asked if he was scared to jump after all those years. “No, that was fine, It was all the money I had to spend on the show clothes for just one time. Those helmets are expensive.” Stephens shows little nostalgia for the days when he was a rider- during the time many would call the dawn of show jumping in America- he’s far too busy with his businesses. Rodney Jenkins and Michael Matz and many others in that equestrian “rat pack” are still involved with horses. Matz is now a race horse
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Florida Sporthorse Magazine 7
Opposite page: Course builder Steve Stephens’ signature designs are sought out by show managers and course designers at the country’s top show jumping events. Riight: Stevens with his wife Debbie, a grand prix competitor and USET member. Below: Stephens handcrafts “bark” for a new fence. Meticulous attention to detail is the hallmark of the Palmetto resident’s work. All photos courtesy of Steve Stephens.
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trainer. His most noted horse, Barbaro, was the winner of the Kentucky Derby and was heavily favored for the Preakness Stakes until he took a bad step and shattered his right hind leg. Today, Jenkins also trains race horses with the same natural rhythm that made him such a success in the show ring. Stephen holds great respect for Jenkins. “If you took Idle Dice and Rodney Jenkins from back in time, they would still beat any combination out there,” he said. Stephens’ businesses are based out of Imperial Farm in Palmetto, which he co-owned with Mische until recently. Debbie Stephens, Steve’s wife of 17 years, operates Centennial Farm out of the same facility The two met years before they married and maintained a long -distance relationship until Debbie moved her business to Florida.
Debbie is well-known in the industry as a Grand Prix competitor with high earnings, and she is a frequent United States Equestrian team member. When asked if he ever trains his wife Stephens’ responds, “I will help her in anyway, ground person, consultant, but I am not her trainer. Most of the big professionals riders don’t have trainers. I never did with VIP. Most of the time you just need someone on the ground to place the jumps where you tell them to.” There are four employees at Stephens Designs who, along with Stephens, are involved in every aspect of a jump except for the creative part--that aspect belongs to the boss. Once a jump design has formulated in his mind and is put to paper, it becomes a group effort to build it, paint it, and pack it to be
shipped to the show grounds. When that show is over, the jump comes back home to Palmetto to receive a fresh coat of paint before going to the next show. Every part of the jump is well thought-out from the poles to the wings. Stephens only uses poles bought from a supplier in Europe. Europeans cut four poles from the four corners of a log leaving the dense core behind. This method creates a more uniformly balanced pole which is about four pounds lighter than those from the United States or Canada. Lighter poles and shallower cups have made show jumping more difficult but significantly better for the horse’s legs. Stephens estimates he probably has over 2000 poles. They come to him looking like giant plain pencils before being transferred into brilliant designs representing every color on an artist’s palette
8 Florida Sporthorse Magazine The real art, however, is in the construction of the wings and the walls; this is where Stephens’ creativity shines. Many of the jumps he builds advertise the sponsors of the particular venue. Since Budweiser pulled out as a major show jumping sponsor, Shamu the killer whale and a couple of gigantic beer bottles have retired to the rafters of the shop along with other jump designs from years gone by. One would have to spend a full day at Stephens Designs to fully appreciate and view each jump design. There are plenty of walls, each painted meticulously to look like real bricks as well as lighthouses, butterflies, bridges, ocean waves, and even a musical scale. Stephen’s doesn’t give away his jump-making secrets, and he documents each jump with a photograph for the books. However elaborate or large a jump is, it has to be transportable and therefore constructed with that in mind. Many of them are quite heavy. Built-in holders are hidden in the jump in optimal areas for balance and for maneuvering since dollies rolling across grass footing or jumps being dragged across a course can damage footing. Stephens’ mentor in the jump building business was Ammerman Lytle, a company no longer in the business. When Stephens began, he made his mark by paying attention to detail. Today, his work is in high demand. He can only do so many shows per year, so he had to turn down being the jump supplier for the London Olympics and the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. “There just isn’t enough time for all of the shows” he said, “without sacrificing my commitment to my regular customers.” This loyalty extends to his competition as well. If show management calls from a venue he does not normally supply he asks, “doesn’t so and so supply jumps for you?” When they answer yes but explain that they are looking for something new, Stephens encourages them to talk to their current jump supplier first. When Stephens stopped to do the interview he was working on a jump with a western theme; whisky barrels on the side with an oldlooking fence in the middle. The fence looks like something a horse and rider might encounter on a trail. Although the jump appears plain and natural, especially when compared to some of his other creations, there is nothing natural about it. Stephens has made treated wood resemble rough lumber with the bark still intact by using tools to chip up the sides. At the same time, the employees of Stephens Designs are busy in the shop putting the final touches on jumps before beginning the systemized procedure of packing the semi trailers. Stephens owns 11 trailers and rents more in order to transport the jumps all over the country. In the next nine weeks they will be in Connecticut, Oklahoma, Indiana, New York, and Ohio supplying jumps to shows such as the Hampton Classic and the American Gold Cup. Each trailer travels with an inventory list
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Top: Steve and Debbie Stephens at the 2008 Olympics. Bottom left: Stephens is the course builder at the American Invitational held each year at Tampa Stadium. Bottom right: Jumps are stored in a warehouse at Stephens’ property in Palmetto. After each event, the fences are shipped back to Florida to be repaired, repainted and stored for the next event. All photos courtesy of Steve Stephens. of every jump along with detailed instructions as to what poles to place with what wings. Because Stephens himself cannot be at every show, he needs reassurance that some colorblind person doesn’t place a green and white pole over a red and black coup and tarnish his reputation by making the jump look distasteful. Being a course designer himself gives Stephens an advantage as a builder. He knows all the other course designers and is able to personally accommodate them. Stephens has been course designing since the earliest of days when Mirsche let him design a course at one of his shows in Long Island. Since then he has studied with the likes of designer greats such as Bertalan de Nemethy and Dr. Arno Gego. Stephens has been course designer at some of the most prestigious CSI and CSIO’s from Maryland to Florida. His biggest job yet was the 2008 Olympics where he designed the course and managed the ring for the dressage and the eventing teams as well. This September, he will be course designer for the first million dollar classic in Syracuse, NY. Stephens’ course designs and jumps are so good Hollywood has sought him out. The next time “Something to Talk About” is re-running
on cable, pay close attention to the horse show scene. Stephens designed the course, made the jumps and even provided the horses, but there is more to the story. In order to make Robert Duvall appear to be jumping the height of an actual Grand Prix course, Stephens did some creative modifying. The standards made for the movie had a removable bottom piece, making them smaller so that the rails could be placed at the top and give the illusion of a big jump. Stephens admits he works too many hours and sleeps too few. He has no real outside hobbies and no real desire to start any. He is a simple man with simple needs like eating breakfast at the Waffle House every Monday that he and Debbie are home. Just recently, he hired a personal trainer and cut out soft drinks in order to live a healthier lifestyle. He’s replaced them with ice tea since he’s not fond of plain old water and he has never drunk alcohol, not even wine. Although not a vice another interesting tidbit is that he is a big Elvis. His mother still puts up his Christmas tree every year adorned with Elvis ornaments. And the organized Stevens already has planned his funeral, complete with Elvis singing “I Did it My Way.”
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Florida Sporthorse Magazine 9
Ponies power their way into FEI dressage Jane Whitehurst If 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40, then ponies are the new dressage horse and they’re inching their way up the levels. In the eighties, people in the U.S. began mouthing the word “dressage: with a bit more familiarity. Today, dressage GMO’s flourish throughout the states educating and promoting this ancient sport resurrected. In the nineties, warmbloods imported from Europe entered the ring and people were instantly captivated. Their expressive movements and their strength seemed effortless, Arabians, Thoroughbred and Quarterhorses, which had frequented American show rings became the proverbial red-headed stepchildren. Unfortunately, not everyone could maneuver these large horses. Many careerminded, middle-aged women, the backbone of the USDF, were intimidated by the warm bloods size and strength. Twenty years later, as warmbloods saturate the show rings, other breeds are gaining notice for being different. Some women, tired of maneuvering the likes of a cruise ship down a narrow stream, have gone with more compact breeds. So why not ponies? In 2005, Seldom Seen, Lendon Gray’s famous small mount, was inducted into the USDF Hall of Fame. At 14.2, Seldom Seen showed the world that size doesn’t matter. The Thoroughbred/ Connemara gelding won numerous awards including USDF Horse of the Year titles through Grand Prix.
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Above: Jo McCracken aboard Dragon’s Lair Pink Perfection (Molly) competing at Prix St. George. At this time, the 13.1 hand mare was nine month’s pregnant. Below left: Leslie Ziegler on Huge Groove (Tigger). The pair are currently competing successfully at FEI. Jo McCracken, owner of Mobile Horse Supply, and a regular competitor, had much success with her Welsh Cobb, (Section C), in both performance and in breeding. She purchased the 13.1 bay roan at four from Celia Evans at Dragon’s Lair Farm in Gainesville to breed to her Holsteiner stallion. Dragon’s Lair Pink’s Perfection, (Molly), carried her 5’8” rider successfully through Prix St. George earning McCracken both her bronze and silver medals. Molly produced four premium foals, two by a Holsteiner, one by a German riding pony, and one by a Newforest pony. Recently, Molly was sold to a 12-year-old girl in Bogata, Columbia. The two are heading toward competing in shows equivalent to the Pony Nationals. Jo has decided to keep Molly’s final foal, Joey, as her “old age” partner since she has decided she cannot be without a pony. “The ponies have been the most fun riding I’ve ever had. They are definitely smart, somewhat opinionated, but that’s their brilliance. They are incredibly strong, and mine have had an amazing propensity to sit and collect,” she said. In training ponies, McCracken says they give 150 percent and that her mare’s only downfall was she tried too hard. “After riding ponies you really learn how to tweak the gaits to create bigger, more horselike gaits, and in the end you get the most loyal buddy you can imagine,” she said. Leslie Ziegler is another pony rider seen frequently at the rated shows. Ziegler has been teaching dressage for a number of years and has recently graduated with distinction from the “L” judging program.
In 1999, Leslie came across a grey gelding being sold by a horse dealer in Bradenton. “I saw him and knew I couldn’t leave him there,” she said. At best guess Huge Groove (better known as Tigger) is some type of Welsh cross, and his age is somewhere around 14. Ziegler, at 5’7”, is currently showing 14.0 hand Tigger under the name in Intermediate I and are working toward scores of 65% or higher at Prix St. George so that she may apply for the “R” judges program. On Tigger, Leslie has earned her silver medal and received high enough scores at fourth level so that she could enter the “r” program. Her long-term goals are to enjoy him and take the training as far as possible with an eye toward Grand Prix. Leslie says her pony is a water horse and because he was abused he is very frightened and wary of everyone. When she first bought him, he was difficult and distrusting, especially under saddle. “Even today he will still eject me from the saddle while mounting if he doesn’t feel okay about something. My helpers and I have never been dumped so many times as when he was a three-year old.” Through the years, though, he has turned into a reliable show partner. “He is very sweet and lovable with me. He is never mean, just wary. A friend once said, ‘he is the only horse who could probably survive in the wild,’ which is probably true. He is very quick to move, to learn and also to out-think you. He is the pony of a lifetime. There is a lot of horse packed into his diminutive stature.”
10 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
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MP Above and opposite page: Veterinarian Michael Porter, once a practitioner at the University of Florida and the founder of MEDS (Mobile Equine Diagnostic Service), has started a private practice. Working out of a special y equipped van, Porter can perform many services on a clientâ€™s farm that often are not available outside of larger equine clinics. All photos courtesy of Michael Porter.
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Florida Sporthorse Magazine 11
Alachua veterinarian makes high-tech house calls Jean White FSH: How did you become interested in being an
technology in the field. We will have a strong emphasis on performance horses.
MP: As a young person, I had an interest and
FSM: How will you be different then most private
curiosity about animals and while growing up in Miami I worked for a small animal veterinarian. At that time I didn’t have a particular interest in horses but in my early twenties I was exposed to more horses and developed a strong interest in them.
MP: Our focus will be concentrated on
FSM: What are some of the services that you will MP: Prepurchase exams, Advanced lameness
FSM: What areas are you covering?
diagnostics, Digital radiographs, Digital ultrasound, Upper airway endoscopy, gastroscopy exams, Focal extracorporeal shock wave, Stem cell, PRP, IRAP, Respiratory disease exams, Gastro-intestinal disease exams, neurologic disease exams, and echocardiogram are the major services we will be offering.
MP: It was close to home and of course had an
MP: Central and north Florida as well as
FSM: What are the Goals for PHD veterinary
FSM: Why did you choose to attend the University
excellent equine veterinarian program. After graduating from UF, I was in private practice for two years with a focus on reproduction work. I then went back to UF for 3 years to specialize in internal medicine.
FSM: Why did you create the MEDS unit at UF? MP: My mentor Dr. Eleanor Green and I
wanted to be able to bring high tech procedures onto the farm for the referring veterinarians and be more of a presence in the community. This allowed the referring vets an opportunity for continuing education, allowed the horse owner to have an on farm service that they would normally have to trailer to, and it allowed our vet students to get an unique opportunity for study and field experience.
performance horses and the sport horse arena and the problems of and solutions for these horses. Since this will be our focus we will be traveling a much larger area.
FSM: What special training have you had besides Vet school?
MP: I’m Boarded in Internal Medicine. I have
attended seven specialty courses in Advanced Ultra Sounding. I am a member of ISELP and have a PhD in Reproductive Physiology.
FSM: What are some problems that you see in Florida’s sport and performance horses?
MP: Non-sweating horses are a real problem
for sport and performance horses. Hoof and shoe issues are common, especially for horses in wet environments. We also see a lot of suspensory issues due to chronic overuse.
FSM: Why did this wonderful program come to an end?
FSM: How can riders and trainers avoid sport and performance horse injuries?
MP: Budget cuts.
MP: First make sure you are buying a horse
FSM: Now that the MEDS unit is closed, what are your plans?
MP: I have developed a private practice called
Performance Horse Doc Veterinarian Services or PHD Vet Services along with assistant Peter Kolacia who was with me in the MEDS program. This service will be a continuation of the MEDS mission. Referring vets and horse owners still have a need for the state of the art
from a good breeding program. Then have a thorough pre-purchase exam done by a vet experienced in pre-purchase exams. Also, make good use of products like Adequan to help your horse continue to perform while lessening joint damage.
FSM: Who would be your perfect client? MP: A sport or performance horse owner or trainer with knowledge and interest in equine
service? MP: To provide cutting edge veterinary technology to the sport horse community. To build on an existing foundation of referring veterinarians to become a well respected referral service and to expand into a multidoctor service.
12 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
From A-list celebrities to A-circuit equestrians, Tampa-based Devon Aire has dressed them all. Christina Heddesheimer
bove the door frame of Devon Aire Vice President Andres Lendoiro’s office is a striking black and white photo of former President Ronald Reagan circa 1978 jumping a three-foot stone wall on a big bay horse. He is wearing Devon Aire breeches. Devon Aire’s tradition of great riding breeches continues today with the likes of Zooey Deschanel, Alyson Hannigan, Kaley Cuoco and Robert Duval all choosing to don a pair of the company’s riding pants in the saddle, in magazine shoots and sometimes even on movie sets. Devon Aire, an equestrian apparel company based out of Tampa, began in 1973 when riders started asking Lisa Lendoiro, then a nine-year old girl from New Jersey, where she purchased her riding breeches. Lisa’s breeches had, in fact, been sewn by her grandmother, the head seamstress for designer Geoffrey Beene, after Lisa had been unable to find affordable breeches that fit her
properly. It turned out that many riders faced the same problem, and orders began to pour in for a pair of the grandmother’s breeches. The company started production in the family’s New Jersey garage, where it quickly outgrew the small space and moved to its current headquarters in Tampa. Devon Aire has stayed true to its family origins and remains entirely family-owned and operated. This gives the company not only an appealing story to relay to consumers, but also a genuine interest in producing high quality, affordable products that will hold up to the rigors of riding. Family members who ride are involved in the testing process of new products and contribute to focus group studies. Their focus is on the average, every-day rider who needs riding apparel that is both comfortable and functional, yet still remains below a reasonable price point. “We’re like Levis, we want to make it affordable for everyone to have. I mean we’re not the Walmart jeans, but we’re not Seven for All Mankind,” Lendoiro said. The goal is to make riding more affordable, so that more riders, both young and old, can enjoy it in style. Devon Aire manufactured exclusively riding pants, hunt coats and show shirts until around 1980, when they made the leap into footwear. Initially, the transition was not a success, and the company considered pulling back. Eventually, they were able to produce a boot that proved successful and expanded even further into producing helmets and splint boots in the late 1990s. Devon Aire is currently redesigning their entire footwear line and will release a new model of their ladies’ field boot in September 2010 that will retail for $199.00. Their new boot features a breathable stretch lining with soft calf leather for added comfort, a stylish punched toecap, along with a rear elastic gusset and reinforced heavy duty zipper. When the company first began producing boots some 25 years ago, their boots, like many others, had a leather sole and no foot bed like traditional European hunt boots. It was not until the early 1990s that rubberized soles came into popular use. The process of product development and redesign can be long and arduous, particularly for riding boots. Sketches must be made and
patterns developed in every boot size for the toe, foot, heel, ankle, calf width and height. Devon Aire’s newest field boot required over 800 patterns for production. The leather they use for their boots is purchased from tanneries in England, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, France and China. The leather’s origin depends on which tanneries have approved suitable leather in stock. Devon Aire is sent samples of leather swatches, which they use to dictate to the tanneries which type of leather they would like to order. The quality of the leather is dependent both on the hides and the tanning process. The challenge of effectively redesigning a product is to improve the product while keeping production costs to a minimum. One way to achieve this is by carefully considering consumer feedback. For example, several years ago many of Devon Aire’s boot wearers, particularly larger women wearing bigger calf sizes, had problems with the zipper breaking. The company considered putting more durable zippers in their boots, but discovered that the YKK zipper they were already using was the strongest zipper on the market appropriate for apparel. Instead, Devon Aire developed a boot with an elastic gusset that runs all the way down the side of the boot. This gusset alleviates a considerable amount of pressure on the boot’s zipper and the return rate for their boots dropped 70 percent. Not only were their consumers more satisfied, but the change also proved financially beneficial for the company. Devon Aire has also developed other innovative ideas for riding apparel such as the dial-fit system in their AEGIS line of riding helmets. The dial-fit system, originally used in helmets worn by construction workers, allows for a better-fitting, more comfortable helmet. When Devon Aire premiered the product at a trade show, it attracted immediate attention. Initially, many competing helmet companies were skeptical that the helmet would sell; however, within a year, other firms were copying Devon Aire’s dial-fit system and incorporating it into their own helmet lines. The dial-fit has proven to be highly successful at making properly fitting helmets more affordable, especially for growing children who might otherwise need a new helmet every year.
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Florida Sporthorse Magazine 13
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Devon Aire has gained a reputation for stylish and affordable riding wear. The Tampa-based family-owned company remains dedicated to providing innovative, quality products for every budget. Photos courtesy of Devon Aire. Devon Aire has also rolled out a line of riding tights, the Devon Aire X-Wear Sensation Riding Tights, which retail around $60. A designer from Perry Ellis, designed the tights using multiple panels that are pulled together to produce a pant that is both form fitting and flattering. Beyond their superb fit, these riding tights stand out because of their water repellent fabric, which also has an SPF-50 to protect the rider’s legs from the harmful rays of the sun. The fabric prevents soggy riding pants after hosing off a horse or galloping through a water jump. The knee patches on the X-Wear Sensation Riding Tights provide another example of Devon Aire’s creative solutions to common
problems. Lendoiro noticed that leather knee patches on riding pants would often get stiff after being washed in a washing machine. One afternoon while attending a relative’s hockey game, he noticed the soft, suede-like material on the palm of the hockey player’s gloves. He later contacted the company who produces the gloves, CCM, and now uses the exact same material for the knee patches in Devon Aire’s riding tights. The material is soft, grippy, flexible and washes beautifully. The same grip used by professional hockey players to help them control a hockey puck can now also be used by riders to help them stay secure in the saddle.
Devon Aire manufactured all their products in their Tampa facility until around 1995, when production moved abroad. The switch was not entirely cost- related, but was partly due to a decrease in qualified workers willing to work in their facility. Their workers were primarily older women, and once they began to retire, there was no one to fill the positions, despite the $22.00 an hour pay. The company first moved manufacturing to the Dominican Republic; a short two-hour flight from Tampa, but eventually was forced to move to China after the socialist government in the Dominican Republic imposed fees and restrictions which made production costs prohibitive. Lendoiro is confident that the company’s move overseas has not affected the quality of their products. Devon Aire only employs factories that meet government standards for wages, safety and working conditions. Devon Aire is one of the first equestrian apparel companies to employ American quality control engineers to oversee all production and quality control functions in their overseas operations. Devon Aire is able to price its products competitively in part because they attempt to cut out superfluous spending on things like excessive promotions and fringe advertising. “There are a lot of companies that will make a product and then price it really high because they build an enormous amount of advertising and marketing into the price of their products. They can take a pair of breeches--that cost them $20.00 to make--they will wholesale them for like $65.00 to try to get it to retail around $130,” Lendoiro said. Consumers can see this themselves when they walk into a tack store and observe elaborate displays such as carpeting, benches and large signs with a brand’s logo on them. “Those are all great ideas, but they add an enormous amount of overhead to your product, and they outsell those products to cover all that, so we try to keep our prices in control, by being a family-owned business, controlling everything from beginning to end,” Lendoiro said. This philosophy is one of the reasons Devon Aire has fared reasonably well during the economic downturn. In fact, Dover Saddlery’s sale of Devon Aire products is up from last year. As people are tightening their belts, they are falling back on more affordably-priced products. Due to the current soft economy DevonAire has had to shelve some new product ideas, but plans on re-introducing them as the economic conditions improve. Devon-Aire has also responded by keeping prices relatively stable for the past four years. They are staying focused on their core market, consumers who want opening to middle price points, and as a result, are riding out the recession without much trouble. Since 2000, Devon Aire has been an official sponsor of the United States Pony Club. In
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addition to providing financial support, they engage in grass roots efforts to raise awareness of the club and get more children involved. One way they do this is by placing United States Pony Club tags on each piece of clothing they sell. A child can then mail the tag into the organization with their address to receive more information about how to become involved. Estimates indicate that Pony Club has received 5,000 new members as a direct result of the tag campaign. The company also receives frequent compliments from Pony Club mothers who themselves wore Devon Aire while growing up and are now doing the same for their own children. Devon Aire is one company which has effectively marketed itself as a genuine, hard-working family run business that puts great care into the development and manufacturing of their products to give consumers the most value for their money. The company is thoughtful and precise about each phase of product development and manufacturing. Naomi Heller, a 21 year-old Devon Aire enthusiast who rides out of Sundown Farm in Bryan, Texas, appreciates the company’s focus. “I have been wearing Devon Aire forever and absolutely love their stuff. I have owned a pair of their field boots for five years and I rave about them because I can put them on at four a.m. on show day and still be wearing them at six p.m. when we’re trailering home and be completely comfortable. Their helmets are also the only brand that fits me properly.” Lisa’s grandmother probably never imagined that what began as a few sewing machines in a New Jersey garage would grow to be a successful international company, but many riders, like Heller, are sure glad it did.
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5tips for a better topline
It doesn’t matter which equine discipline you are involved in, building and maintaining a strong topline on your horse is important.
Strong toplines attract judges or buyers and also help ensure the horse’s back remains strong and healthy. While work and correct muscle conditioning play a huge role in developing and maintaining topline, nutrition plays an equally important role. To build topline you need to provide the right nutrients. Here are some tips on feeding for topline. Tip 1—Feed enough energy (calories) for the work your horse is doing. Underfeeding means your horse will need to dip into its stored energy reserves to fuel the muscles for work. Horses will quite quickly break down their topline to use it for fuel if they are underfed. Tip 2—Feed high quality protein. To build topline you must provide the building blocks
your horse needs to make muscle. Using feeds with protein provided by soybeans, lupins, faba bean or canola meal will give your horse access to good quality sources of protein which builds muscle. Avoid feeds containing cottonseed meal as the protein source. Cottonseed is a poor source of protein that is deficient in the most important amino acids (amino acids are the building blocks of protein). Feeding some lucerne hay will also contribute good quality protein to the diet. Tip 3—Use top-up feeds designed to build top-line. Feeds based on rice bran and are designed to provide extra calories and protein to help build topline. You can also use whey protein isolate or soy protein isolates. Tip 4—Feed a balanced diet. Once again, it really is so important to ensure your horse’s diet is meeting all of its nutrient requirements
as any deficiency will stop your horse from reaching its potential and this includes its potential for building topline. Also, minerals like zinc are needed to effectively build muscle; failing to provide these nutrients will inhibit muscle growth, no matter how well the horse is being worked and fed with quality protein. Tip 5—Avoid or treat back injuries. Use properly fitted saddles at all times and quickly treat any back injuries that may occur. A horse with a sore back will avoid using its back muscles correctly, in turn preventing it from building a strong topline. Feeding a good diet with quality protein, in conjunction with exercise aimed at strengthening the topline should give you noticeable results in four to eight weeks. >Nerida Richards is the founder of Feed XL. She has a doctorate in equine nutrition.
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It took decades of development and experimenting with different types of horses for Reddick resident Sandi Lieb to achieve her goal of becoming a master breeder.
he sleepy back roads just north of Ocala are marked by miles of threeboard fence that corral pastures dotted with centuries-old oaks, their bent branches draped with veils of silver Spanish moss. Hand-painted signs advertising stalls for rent, racing layups and riding lessons mark driveways of sprawling farms. Here on the fringes of Florida’s horse country, it is easy to forget the endless surge of I-75 traffic only a few miles away. Tucked between aging thoroughbred farms built on Triple Crown dreams rests Pennock Point, where Sandi Lieb has helped lay the foundation for the state’s sporthorse breeding industry.
As a little girl, Lieb flipped through horse magazines and dreamed that someday she might own a farm, raise Arabians and become what the articles described as a “master breeder.” Today, she breeds Dutch Warmbloods and hosts inspections for many of the major sport horse associations including the Dutch, Holsteiner, Oldenburg and Swedish registries. Lieb’s efforts have produced numerous premium foals and her horses have excelled with both amateur and professional riders in the dressage and jumping arenas. Mastering the art of breeding, however, took four decades and experience with many different types of horses.
Her odyssey began with a single Morgan mare that was her equine companion throughout college and graduate school. Lieb holds a PhD in Equine Nutrition from the University of Kentucky. Prior to accepting a teaching position at the University of Florida in 1974, Lieb taught at California Polytechnic Paloma. It was on the west coast that she was exposed to dressage. “CDS (California Dressage Society) was active and Charles de Knuffy was teaching out there. I took lessons on my Morgan—he did not like her—but in those days we rode what we had,” she said. In California, she also saw her first warm-
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Opposite page: Ezsa, a 2009 First Premium KWPN fil y by UB40 out of Zsa Zsa by Idocus. Left: Jambalaya, who produced five Ster offspring giving her the KWPN Preferent predicate. Below left: Vanessa Mae schooling third level dressage with trainer Maya Sniadecky. Vanessa Mae was a USDF Southeast Sport Horse Finals Grand Champion Fil y. Below right: Ugot Swing Babe with rider Aaron Vale at Ocala HITS where she earned her KWPN Sport-jump predicate. “Swinger” is a nine-year-old KWPN mare by Ferro out of Jambalaya by Argus. She has earned the KWPN Star, IBOP and Sport-jumping predicates.
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blood stallion, a Grande-bred Hanoverian. Her stay at Cal-Poly was short-lived. After two years, she moved to Florida. In addition to teaching courses, conducting research and sponsoring UF’s horse judging team, she founded Medley Farm south of Gainesville. The farm was named for the variety of horses that Lieb used as she worked to establish a small program that would satisfy her love for breeding while remaining financially solvent. From the 70s to early 80s, she focused primarily on Morgans and Arabians. “This was before shipped semen, so it was difficult to breed to good stallions. I did well with Arabs,” she said, “but then there came
a time when stallion owners were charging a $1000 stud fee, and youngsters were only selling for $1500.” As the Arabian market crashed, Lieb’s thoughts returned to warmbloods, but the selection of stallions in Florida was limited. Those within driving distance tended to be the older, stouter type. “Most of my experience was with riding Arabs, so I kind of resisted breeding to any of the heavy horses,” she said. She bred one mare to Johanniter, a Swedish stallion owned by Jean Brinkman of Valhalla Farm in Wellborn. She also chose a D-line Hanoverian in South Carolina whose lighter
frame and leggy conformation appealed to Lieb. “I bought a cheap $600 thoroughbred mare—she was not high quality—and I left her in South Carolina to be bred on my way to Virginia with some students for a judging competition,” she said. In those days, Hanoverian crosses could not be registered, so the foal had no papers. A newly-imported Dutch horse named Orpheus (not to be confused with Jessica Ransehousen’s 1988 Olympic mount of the same name) was the next sire Lieb chose. He was not approved, but he had three good gaits and a nice temperament. She bred several
18 Florida Sporthorse Magazine thoroughbred mares and her Morgan, who was 20 by then. “[The Morgan] had a monster baby. She went nearly 12 months, and when the colt came out, he looked like a big skeleton with skin stretched over it,” she said. The unusual cross grew into himself, though, and eventually showed through Prix St. George with a professional rider. Unlike the Hanoverian registry, the KWPN of North America (the Dutch registry) had an auxiliary book that accepted crossbreds, so Lieb was able to register her foals. The group also had started keurings, though the closest was in Atlanta, but Lieb loaded a Johanniter filly named Charmion and a Dutch filly named Edwina into her trailer and made the trip to the inspections. Both passed, so the offspring of those fillies were eligible for full papers and became the foundation for her current operation. When shipped semen became available, Lieb’s choices became greater, and her fillies were bred to accomplished Dutch stallions such as Argus and Rolls Royce. “In the beginning, I was always trying to grade up. Each year, I would keep the best filly and sell the mare,” Lieb said. “It took a long time to develop my program.” Part of the development plan was purchasing Pennock Point, where Lieb has been for the past decade. The 84 acres provides ample pasture for mares and their foals, and the jumping, dressage and covered arenas make training young horses possible regardless of central Florida’s often temperamental weather. Because they dominate most sport horse competitions, it is easy to forget that warmblood breeding in the United States is still in its youth. Nevertheless, Lieb believes that it is no longer necessary to travel abroad to find quality bloodstock. “Over the last 10 years, the quality has improved dramatically. Now some of the inspection winners, particularly from the Hanoverian and Dutch approvals, could win at Devon. We are finally matching quality horses with trainers who can start them correctly.” Lieb says her goal is to breed quality horses and see them go on to have successful performance careers. In 1998, Rameau, by Idocus out of Jambalaya, dominated the breed shows. “He beat the tar out of everyone,” Lieb said. “He won the Southeast Championship and went on to Devon where he won everything except the East Coast Championship, which he missed by half a percentage point.” Rameau is now shown by amateur dressage rider Christine Mac Donald. Although Lieb says that her horses are marketed primarily toward amateurs, her horses have found success with professional riders as well. Ruskin, by the Holsteiner Rantares out of
Above: Zodica by Rousseau out of Jambalaya. Zodica is Sandi Lieb’s first KWPN Elite mare. Opposite page: Maya Sniadecky on Bartram, a gelding by Contester. As a three-year-old, Bartramwas rated Star quality. He was ranked in the KWPN Top Five for the entire 2009 Keuring tour. her Swedish mare, showed through upper level dressage. “That was the first foal where everything came together—he was beautiful. He was a modern type with good size and good gaits. [Olympic bronze medalist] Michelle Gibson looked at him, and then he was purchased by a student of Karen Lipp. He showed fourth
Measuring a Mare’s Success By meeting certain requirements for conformation or performance, a mare can be acknowledged with a predicate. Predicates are important indicators for a breeder concerning the quality of their mare. For the jumping- and dressagebred mares we have the following predicates: Ster, Keur, PROK, IBOP, EPTM, elite, sport, preferent and prestatie. Information on these designations can be found at www.KWPN.org.
level at Devon and placed there and showed Prix St. George in Wellington where he won or placed in every show. He ended up with North Carolina dressage trainer Dennis Callin who showed him at Intermediare I and II and took him to Europe.” The current star of Lieb’s program is the mare UGot Swing Babe who showed extensively at HITS this past winter with Grand Prix jumper Aaron Vale. The mare is by Olympic Ferro out of Jambalaya. “Swinger” finished the circuit co-champion at Level 6 and reserve champion at Level 5. Despite the mare’s success, Lieb is hesitant to keep her in training. “I had visions of her doing Grand Prix. I think she could handle the height, but the deal with her is whether or not she will rate correctly. She must be more rateable with good scope. She would have to get stronger.” Lieb says that Vale has confidence in the mare’s future. Nevertheless, Lieb is first and foremost, a breeder. To remain in the black, she must sell her horses as youngsters. Still, Lieb, accustomed to dressage and breed shows, says the more fast-paced and dynamic jumper world is seductive. She would like for two of her five-year-olds to have more extensive jumper training, and two of her mares have been bred to jumper stallions. One Idocus daughter is in foal to Ohorn; another is bred to the Holsteiner Class, a Chin Chin son. Success in the show ring is to integral in developing the reputation for producing
Florida Sporthorse Magazine 19
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quality horses. Lieb credits much of her success with the offspring of Jambalaya. The mare had nine foals including Rameau and Swinger. The KWPN (Dutch Warmblood registry) places great emphasis on marelines and the performance of their offspring. Lieb’s ultimate goal is for Jambalaya to earn the designation of “prestatie.” Three of the mare’s offspring must perform well in dressage--at third level or higher--or jumping--at level five or higher--and earn a certain number of points. Swinger’s recent success in the jumper ring put Jambalaya one step closer to earning the title. “I want to see her get that,” Lieb said. Her affection and appreciation for the mare is clear. Lieb admits that seeing the products of her program do well is important, and she has had her share of success. Yet, she warns young people that making a living as a breeder is no easy task in terms of time and money. There is no such thing as instant gratification. “You have to do it out of pure love,” she said. “If you want to make money, you have to provide a service to the owner and you have to be good to be competitive.”
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Driven to distraction
Dressage trainer Jean White navigates the world of combined driving
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Above: Driver Jean White and navigator Joanna Compton-Mystake Wilson through a hazard. Wilson is owned by White and Judi Carter. Photo courtesy of Jean White. and throw it on the pony and come out with a correctly adjusted harness. We now know holdbacks from traces and overgirths from tugs. I can even help hitch in a four-in-hand team! The trick of learning to harness is just do it! Over and over and over... You can not make half halts with your seat while driving. On my first drive with our young pony I felt like he was out of balance and was making half halts and helping him balance with my seat and position. “What the heck are you doing?” asked Bob from the seat beside me. So I learned that you cannot balance, straighten or steer the driving horse with the seat, weight, and legs. All I have is the whip, voice and reins. Driven dressage is not easy. The good news is that you can talk to the horse, even in dressage competition. You call their name and then give them a command like “trot on” or “whoa”. If they don’t respond then you use the whip (for creating energy or for bending/ straightening) or the reins (flexion, containing
Karen Kennedy/Icon Studios
First off, I really didn’t have any intention of learning to drive. But, I was ill and owned half of Wilson, a two and half year old Welsh Pony stallion that already had a mustache, sang bass, and clearly needed a job that didn’t involve the back end of a mare. That job wasn’t going to be ridden dressage like I thought. Since I couldn’t even walk to the barn much less ride, Judi Carter (Wilson’s other owner/slave woman) and I signed Wilson up for driving training until I was strong enough to ride again. Wilson took to driving like a duck to water and although I ride him now, he is happiest being the ultimate driving pony. How does one go about learning to drive? Let me share some of our revelations about learning to drive. Carriage driving is not safe. You know how you get a bunch of horse women together and they start comparing riding horse injuries? Well, carriage drivers do the same thing. In the beginning, we were told stories about every carriage accident in recent and past memory. We listened, and we were scared. Nevertheless, we opted to learn from these mistakes and go on driving. I have to say that drivers are much more safety savvy then most riders. Getting hitched is like flying a plane. You go over your mental check list, you go over your cart, and you go over your harness each and every time you hitch. When you untack your horse, the first thing that comes off is the bridle, right? Well, we had to learn that in driving the first thing that comes off is the cart. You can be eliminated and kicked off the show grounds for taking a bridle off a hitched horse even if that horse is tied. Before you compete in your class at a driving event, you are required to go to the safety check point and have the safety check person look over your harness and cart and sign your safety check paper. Drivers are serious about safety! There are a lot of “thingys on a harness. Having been a rider since childhood, I can’t remember ever learning the parts of a bridle, but I suppose at some point I did. Having to learn the names of all the straps on a harness while on the wrong side of midlife was a challenge. For months we still called most of the straps “thingys” despite a good driving book with a nice illustration of “Parts of the Harness.” Thank goodness Bob Giles, who started Wilson in harness, was up to the task of educating two women who laughed and giggled their way through putting on a harness…sometimes taking a half hour just to get it right. But soon (well, maybe like a year later), we could just take a jumble of straps
energy, and stopping before hitting something or someone.) It does seem to me that in the pairs and team competitions that the horses all seem to have similar names. Dam*t and Sh*t seem to be favorites for the horses used in hazards and cones. I’ve heard a lot of “Dam*t, bend” or “Sh*t, get up there.” Even though these horses are driven by some of the best drivers, indeed
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Above: Driving events are a feast for the eyes with many different breeds of horses. Photo by Karen Kennedy, Icon Studios. Upper right: Driving is a team event, which adds to the spirit of unity. Photo courtesy of Jean White. they are competing in the WEG’s, I think that we will leave Wilson’s name as Wilson. Of course we reserve the right to change should we hit any part of a hazard. Driving is a great team sport. It takes a lot to get the cart, harness, pony and driver ready to drive. If you are showing, many turnouts also require a groom or navigator to be in the cart with the driver. There is often a whole group of people attending a single pony turnout. With pairs (two horses or ponies hitched together), tandems (one horse or pony hitched in front of another in-line), or teams (four-in-hands) there can be an army! We have found it to be so much fun sharing the work as well as the glory with a group of friends. Driving shows are feasts for the eyes. After attending mainly just dressage shows for the last 25 years or so, you get used to the bay warmblood being the staple dressage horse. Now, here we were at our first driving show and we were seeing miniature horses (called VSE – very small equine. I’m not kidding… that is the class they enter), hackneys, Dutch Harness Horses, Fjords, Frisians, Shetlands, Clydesdales, Welsh ponies, Arabians, Welsh Cobs, Andalusians, Caspians, Haflingers, Warmbloods, mules, donkeys, and very other imaginable breed.
All these horses, ponies, and VSEs were hitched to carts, gigs, meadowbrooks, marathon vehicles, dog carts, roof top breaks, gypsy wagons, and many other two and four wheeled conveyances. So, here our Welsh Pony of Cob Type fits right in among the interesting breeds, and we have learned to appreciate many different horses and ponies! We’ve seen a tiny Caspian, who looks like a miniature of the famous dressage horse Rembrandt, sit on his haunches better than most Grand Prix horses. And we’ve seen draft ponies fly through cones with the best times, and Arabians that never look at scary obstacles. You get much more open minded when you are beaten in driven dressage by the best looking mule you’ve ever seen! We did have to learn the “Driving Alphabet and Driving Terms.” First, we had to learn that the ADS is the American Driving Society. This is important since they make the driving rules. Then you have the shows. CDE’s are the Combined Driving Events. hese are the events that have dressage competition on one day, marathon on the second day, and cones on the last day. The dressage is judged like ridden dressage with only a few changes (like how you can get eliminated and points off for putting a groom down etc). The marathon is basically an endurance
test of cross country with hazards. The harder levels do more miles and hazards. The hazards are intricate obstacles that require speed and precision in very small spaces. The cones are an obstacle course of cones that are set close together with a ball on top of the cones. The higher the level you are competing, the closer the cones are together. If you just brush the cone the ball will come down earning you penalty points. This is a speed and precision class. ADT’s are Arena Driving Trials. They have the three phases like CDEs but are all driven in the arena. There is no cross country and the hazards are set up in the arena. The dressage and cones are usually on the first day and then you run hazards once in the morning and once again in the afternoon on the second day. HDT’s are driving trials with dressage, cones, and marathon on one day. The marathon is shortened accordingly. There are also strange words in driving like “gator.” This does not refer to a vehicle or a reptile. This is the navigator that is on the carriage during the marathon or in hazards that helps balance the carriage. And let me tell you, balancing the carriage is serious business! When drivers talk about the whip, they are not talking about the thing you hold and whack the horse with when forward thoughts are lost. The whip is the driver of the carriage. Wheelers are not free spirited vendors at the show grounds. They are the horse(s) that are closest to the carriage and do the pulling. The leaders are not the head honchos of the driving world but are the horse(s) that are in front of the wheelers. Being “in draft” does not mean you are being sent to Afghanistan, but rather that your traces are taunt and the horse is pulling. And then to further confuse the newcomer, drivers sometimes use different words for the same thing. Like winkers and blinker or single tree and swiggle tree. Lucky for us we bought a good driving book and check it frequently for translations before we utter some incredibly meaningless oration. While ridden dressage may still be our first love, we have learned much from the sport of driving and will continue to learn and hone our skills as drivers. Come join us!
22 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
In their ‘element’ Part three in a four-part series
he Earth horse is one of the easiest of the Chinese elements to recognize. The element of Earth is known for being a balanced individual whose mantra is, “let’s just all get along.” The Earth horse isn’t normally the herd leader but they aren’t necessarily pushovers either. They’re generally grounded and agreeable. While most Earth horses aren’t the flashy, dramatic attention grabbers that characterize the element of Fire, there’s plenty to appreciate in the element of Earth. Earth horses are comfortable being what they are: a herbivore, a herd animal, and a creature of flight. The Earth horse loves to do what horses do naturally, eat – preferably grazing; socializing – fulfilling their role in the group, and taking their cue from the herd leader when it’s time to move on due to any perceived danger. Just as the Earth nurtures the creatures who live on the planet, the Earth horse nurtures all who are fortunate enough to interact with him. In general, they adapt to their position in the herd and the job they are given to perform. Food is very important to the Earth horse. All life needs to be nurtured in order to survive but the Earth horse relishes his meals unlike any of the other Chinese elements. When an Earth horse doesn’t finish his meal there’s a high probability he’s experiencing an illness of some sort. Due to the delicate GI system of the horse and the importance of the stomach and spleen meridians in the Earth element; colic, weight gain or loss, and other gastro-intestinal difficulties can plague the Earth horse. Unlike some elements that express their dissatisfaction or upset, the steady Earth horse can swallow their emotions. Their worry is often undetected by their caretakers until trouble occurs. The Earth horse is often an easy keeper and can become overweight, typically with a rather pendulous abdomen and a rather hollow looking back. Care must be taken to monitor the Earth horse’s food intake and muscular development in order to avoid the health issues that can accompany being overweight and under muscled. Some Earth horses can develop a metabolic syndrome that appears similar to diabetes
or pre-Cushing’s disease. The syndrome is characterized by pockets of fat and a low metabolic rate. Usually the Earth that manifests these symptoms has been fed a rich diet. Any attempt by his owner to switch the Earth to a diet which is less calorically dense is met with resistance. Here’s an example of when the animal’s refusal of food may not indicate illness. Rather, like the overweight child who has been accustomed to consuming donuts for breakfast, pizza for lunch and cheeseburgers for dinner, the Earth animal rebels against being fed a more balanced
Earth Horse Characteristics > > > > > > >
Easy-going Grounded Food-oriented Trusting Calm Adaptable Easy-keeper
diet. The Earth horse will often refuse to eat foods that are more healthful, holding out for his usual rich food source. The result is often that he is simply fed less of the rich diet rather than a healthy diet for his constitutional body type. Restricting calories without changing the source of the calories signals the body to conserve energy so that it won’t starve. People who “diet” in this manner also experience a slowdown in their metabolism. People with strong motivation to become thin often reach their goal weight but when they stop dieting they quickly regain all they’ve lost plus some additional pounds. Until the type of food consumed is addressed and a lifestyle change is incorporated into their
health program the Earth element experiences difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. The overweight Earth can benefit from a diet with ample fiber from a source that is not heavily calorie laden. Protein rather than fat should make up any concentrated portion of the diet and foods which have a high glycemic value should be avoided. Feeds which contain sweets such as molasses aren’t the best choice for the Earth horse. Likewise, the typical horse pellet offered by feed companies isn’t the number one pick for our Earth horse. Legume hays such as peanut hay and alfalfa should be avoided in favor of grassy hay. When concentrates are needed, high quality sources of protein are probably the best choice. Most feed companies offer a performance feed that is low in starch and sweets. These feeds often contain a higher quality source of whole grains, less added sweeteners, and high quality sources of the necessary fat to maintain health. Vita Royal manufactures a particularly good concentrate for horses with this particular metabolic makeup, and their website addresses the condition often associated with the Earth horse. Exercise on a regular basis is important to keep the Earth horse in good muscular condition. Earth horses are often difficult to muscle correctly. They tend to gain fat rather than muscle if they aren’t worked on a regular basis. When horses were primarily a beast of burden, they were expected to work for a living. During the time of the development of many breeds, work was a seven day a week fact of life. The tractable nature of the Earth horse made them ideal for many of the jobs that were originally performed using horsepower. This often involved being used for the purpose of assisting the farmer in the production of food, clearing land, and maintaining property. Some horses were ridden over vast tracts of land rounding up cattle and maintaining property lines. Some horses were bred to pull carriages and manage transport of goods. Most of these horses worked all day long at moderate or slow speeds. Breeds of horses which reward a tractable nature include most of the draft horses, Friesians, Quarter horses and Paints. Most of
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Florida Sporthorse Magazine 23
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Debra Redmond on Technicolor (Ollie). She appreciates her Earth horse’s kind, easy going demeanor. Photo courtesy of Debra Redmond. the breeds of ponies also sought out the qualities which are dominant in the Earth element. Regular exercise is needed to maintain muscle tone. Due to their “live and let live” nature, most Earth horses don’t see the need to selfexercise sufficiently to moderate their weight. Because the horse is no longer used to perform the job he originally was bred for many Earth horses don’t get the needed exercise. Today most horses are pleasure animals. There isn’t the need for them to work long hours. In fact, most horses are fortunate to receive exercise for a few hours a week. For this reason, if it’s possible the Earth horse usually does best living outside or at least having access to moving around as much as possible. Owners of an Earth horse should make exercising their animal a high priority. The well-balanced Earth horse is confident in his place in the herd. They happily interact with other members of the herd and usually make good baby sitters. For the most part they’re confident and fair minded. Under saddle, the well-trained Earth is unflappable and dependent. If not prepared muscularly, or drilled in the same manner continuously, the Earth can be lazy and obstinate. Even in resistance the Earth is generally moderate in his actions. He’s usually non combative, preferring to take the path of least resistance. When searching for a competitive partner, the Earth horse is often overlooked in favor of
the flashy Fire horse or the athletic, muscular Wood horse. I’ve spent a good deal of my life competing, and I’m afraid that I’ve fallen into the trap of falling for a certain type of horse. Over the years, however, I’ve come to appreciate the element of Earth and am happy to say that I’m presently the owner of a horse whose dominant element is Earth. The first thing I noticed about my Earth horse was his kind, calm eyes. There’s sweetness to his temperament, like a Golden Retriever in a horse suit. I was looking for a partner with a dependable, agreeable nature. Competition is less important to me at this stage of my life, and I wanted a partner that could safely manage being ridden on the trails as well as everyday ring work. I purchased him as an unbroken three year old. He handled the trip to his new home without incident. He’d been handled daily by his breeder and raised in a herd of horses on a large tract of land. He didn’t have access to seeing lots of traffic or the hustle bustle of urban life, yet for the most part he was quite accepting of his new environment. If I didn’t react to a noise or other stimulus, he managed to stay calm and accepting of all the new noises, smells and sights. I no longer break my own horses so Technicolor, a.k.a. Ollie, was sent to a trainer that I’ve known for a long time to be backed. Again, my Earth horse didn’t seem phased about the new environment, the trip, or the
change in his life in general. When I contacted the trainer some time into the process, I was informed that my boy “doesn’t have much NO in him.” He enjoyed being handled, liked learning to communicate with humans, and accepted them as his leader. He made progress in his understanding of what was expected of him but his physical development was slower than the previous horse that I’d sent to the trainer (a Fire). When I picked up Ollie from the trainer, I got a real demonstration of Ollie’s temperament and training. Ollie was tied to the wall near the opening to the barn waiting being saddled. One of the other clients at the barn had parked his Harley in an empty bay and wheeled it out into the barn aisle. To my dismay, he apparently was going to start the machine in the aisle and drive it out. All I could think of was my youngster pulling back against the tether and injuring himself and gosh knows what else. The trainer came around the corner and noted my expression. He looked at me and said, “Its ok” as he walked toward Ollie and placed a hand on his rump. He nodded to the client, and the Harley’s engine began to roar. Ollie glanced back at the trainer but didn’t do anything other than remain alert as the client drove his vehicle out of the barn area. What a typical example of the trust an Earth horse develops in his trainer. When I began riding Ollie I found him to be very compliant. He wasn’t the most athletic horse I’ve ever owned but he certainly
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24 Florida Sporthorse Magazine was consistent. The more well trained his body became the more capable he was of complying with my requests. It seemed easy to communicate with him but sometimes difficult for him to carry out my requests. This was totally different than my Wood horse that sometimes seemed to stubbornly ignore my requests simply because I’d asked too loudly or too quietly for his taste at that particular moment. When my Wood finally decided that I was going to stay with the request until he complied, it always seemed very easy for him physically to carry out the response to a particular cue. My Fire horse often read my mind when I gave a cue and it seemed we were able to communicate via telepathy...that is when my Fire’s mood suited communicating with me. I’ve often found that accomplishing many “first times” with a new horse can be challenging. The first trail ride, the first schooling show, the first visit to a new location for a clinic or a lesson often required a great deal of planning and courage on my part. Every first with my Earth horse was accomplished relatively easily as long as I remained calm and assertive, demonstrating my mastery of the situation. The element Earth is comfortable and reassured by having a leader and usually will take their cue from observing and listening to that leader in new situations.
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Because the Earth horse often chooses the path of least resistance, teaching them to use their bodies correctly can pose a challenge. Photo courtesy of Debra Redmond. It took longer to develop my Earth horse’s ability to use his muscles correctly. He isn’t particularly difficult to motivate him to move forward but actually using his body in a different manner when being ridden was challenging to him. He saw no reason to use his hind legs to propel himself forward rather than using his forehand, as is the usual scenario when horses
are not being ridden. This is another example of the “path of least resistance” so often seen in the Earth horse. My dedication to developing his musculature correctly paid off when I began to feel him carry himself and me in a more efficient manner. Each day he became stronger and easier to ride. I began to show him in dressage
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and found him to be very consistent in his performances. He travels easily and enjoys the change of scenery. At a show, he feels similar to how he feels at home; perhaps a bit more “up” but nothing vastly different. When the weather conditions varied he wouldn’t be nearly as affected as some of my Fire or Wood horses had been. As long as I insisted that he continue to carry out my requests regardless of the wind or rain he marched around the arena as if nothing was unusual about the conditions. Although we haven’t always won our classes at the competitions, we’ve done very
well and consistently place. When a flashy Fire or athletic Wood has a good day in the competition arena I know there’s a possibility of them placing higher in the standings than my Earth mount. The subjective scoring in dressage allows for awarding the indefinable “something extra” a higher score. In general, however, I’ve come to appreciate the stable nature of my Earth and his willingness to try to please me. He continues to develop his ability to use his body in an athletic manner and he’s a reliable partner in the show ring or on the trail.
Gallop to Freedom : Training Horses with the Founding Stars of Cavalia Magali Delgado, Frederic Pignon Those who attended the Miami or Tampa performances of Cavalia will delight in this book about the training methods used by the show’s founder. It thoroughly discusses reading equine behavior as the core of Pignon’s training philosophy which balances friendship and leadership. The Great European Schools of Classical Dressage: Vienna, Saumur, Jerez, Lisbon Guillaume Henry The Spanish Riding School, the Cadre Noir, the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art Portuguese School of Equestrian Art have dedicated themselves to the principles of classical dressage for hundreds of years. Henry, a riding instructor trained Saumur, discusses the details of each school, their training methods, traditions, horses and riders. Saddled: How a Spirited Horse Reined Me in and Set Me Free Susan Richards Richards relays her journey toward recovery in this memoir about an abused Morgan mare that gives her a reason to live as she battles alcoholism and fights to regain a sense of purpose in her life. Richards’ book is more of a book about fighting the demon of addiction than a horse story, but the bond she forms with her mare will resonate with everyone who has ever found solace spending time in the stable.
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Learning to follow...
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Caralee Gould on Lily... bareback and bridle-less... beautiful horse-rider harmony!
“Our first aim must be to merge with the horse’s movements. We must learn to do this before we begin giving aids.” These words from the late dressage master, Reiner Klimke, are appropriate for riders of any discipline. Often in our training, we are taught what to do to the horse, but instructions on how to do things with him and for him are lacking. In gaining understanding and control of our own bodies, our saddle time becomes more about “doing with” than “doing to,” and our partnerships with our equine friends become more rewarding for both them and us. In order to “merge with” the movements of the horse, to have a “following seat,” we need to have flexibility in our hips and pelvis. A stiff rider will produce a stiff horse: immobility in
the rider’s pelvis will block the movement of the horse’s back, making the horse stiffen his back and shorten his stride. In contrast, even a horse with a naturally short, stilted stride can be improved by a skilled rider. A rider with a fluid seat will enable the horse to perform better, without interference. We can learn to use our bodies to teach our mounts how to use theirs and bring out the natural cadence of the horses we ride. It helps to have an understanding of our anatomy and biomechanics. The hip joint, a ball and socket joint, has the potential for movement in all directions. However, as upright beings,
our human hips are designed for stability and weight bearing before mobility; the joint is supported all the way around by ligaments, which have very little “give” compared to tendons and muscles. Some people have tighter ligaments and muscles than others, especially those who spend hours at a desk or in a car. The hip flexor muscles at the fronts of the hips become tight when we sit for long periods of time, and not only pull the pelvis forward but also cause the legs to rise up when we ride, making it difficult to keep our legs draping over the horse’s sides. The inner thigh muscles tend to be
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particularly tight in women because of our wider pelvis configuration. Tight inner thighs, like the hip flexors, contribute to riders having difficulty keeping their legs long and their feet in the stirrups. There is a tendency for riders to grip with the inner thighs when they have not yet learned to go with the motion of the horse; unfortunately, doing this actually immobilizes the pelvis, while at the same time popping the rider out of the saddle, making it completely impossible to merge with the horse’s movement. In understanding this, we come to realize that a secure seat comes not from holding tightly but from learning to let go.
Aside from the muscles of the hips themselves, there are other areas of our bodies that contribute to tension in the pelvis and can cause it to lock, particularly the jaw and the toes. There is a direct connection between the jaw and the pelvis, and if you experiment with this you will see for yourself. While seated on a chair or your horse, try tensing your jaw and notice what happens in your pelvis. Then release the jaw and feel your pelvis let go. Occasionally, while I am riding Marco, my sensitive Thoroughbred, I will have difficulty keeping him on the rail while tracking to the right. Despite my leg aids, he keeps drifting to the right; more effort on my part only contributes to the problem. In checking in with my own body, I realize that I am clenching my jaw on the left; as soon as I release it, my pelvis releases and my horse aligns himself effortlessly along the rail of the arena, as I am no longer blocking him with my left-sided tension. The toes, too, will directly affect the other joints of the legs. Stretching the toes will help to create openness in the hips. You will find if you do toe stretches, that the toes will be tighter on one foot than on the other: this is the side of your tighter hip. As you continue practicing simple toe stretches daily, and this is easy to fit into your schedule, you will notice that the toes on your left and right feet become more equally flexible and your hips more equally mobile. While in the saddle, remind yourself often to relax your toes and jaw. Along with the physical components of tight muscles, our mental and emotional attitudes can also contribute to limited mobility and tension. Unresolved emotions become stored in the body and manifest as physical symptoms.
Psycho-spiritually, the hips represent our ability to flow with life, and emotions such as resentment or fear of moving forward can make us literally unable to move. As we develop flexibility in our hips, we become better able to flow with the changes life brings- and with the movements of our equine partners. Contradictory as it may seem, developing flexibility and improving range of motion often involves not just stretching but strengthening as well. The muscles of our bodies are organized in complementary pairs or groups, and often one muscle is tighter while its partner is more flexible or weak. The tight muscle will not
Florida Sporthorse Magazine 27 be able to relax and lengthen until its partner develops more strength to create balance between the two. By holding the following yoga poses, strength is developed in weaker muscles, while tighter muscles are released and lengthened. This simple yoga practice addresses the major muscles and ligaments of the hip joints to improve flexibility and mobility. Practicing regularly, even just 15 minutes daily, will improve your ability to follow your horse’s movements, and to use your body to help rather than hinder – him.
Pelvic Rock (a) (b)
From a kneeling position, place your hands on your knees. With an inhalation, lift the chest and rock the pelvis forward as if to stick your tail out behind you. As you exhale, tuck the pelvis under, round the back, and drop your chin to your chest. Continue this for several breath cycles, exploring full range of motion in the pelvis as you rock forward and back. Let your body follow the rhythm of the breath, rather than adjusting the breath to synchronize with the body; this is a good way to practice following your horse’s movement too, and you may recognize how difficult it is to let go of the need to lead. Improves range of motion in the pelvis and the ability to follow the rhythm of the horse’s movement.
Sit down and bring the bottoms of your feet together with the knees open to the sides. Hold onto your feet or ankles, and lift the spine as you release the pelvis towards the ground. Tuning in to your breath, with an exhalation press the outer knees towards the ground. As you inhale, simply release the downward pressure allowing the knees to return to their starting position. Continue for several breath cycles, working up to 1-3 minutes. As with the Pelvic Rock, try to let your breath set the pace for the body’s movement, like a metronome. Strengthens the abductor muscles (outer thigh and hip), to allow the adductors (inner thighs) to relax and lengthen.
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From a position on your hands and knees, step your left foot forward between your hands. Bring your hands to the left knee, and press the hips forward. If you feel steady enough, lift your hands into the air. Pressing the shin of your back leg into the ground can help to stabilize you. Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds; repeat on the other side. Addresses the muscle groups in the front and back of the hips: the glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
Extended Side Angle
Step your feet wide apart, and turn both feet to the right. Extend your arms at shoulder height. Bend your left knee, bringing it directly over the ankle. Keeping your back leg strongly active, tilt your torso and arms in one line toward the bent leg. Be mindful of the bent knee: do not allow it to collapse forward, but instead keep it moving toward the little toe side of the foot (you can use your left arm to help you). To modify the pose for beginners, simply rest the left forearm on the left thigh. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Strengthens the outer hip and thigh muscles of the bent leg; lengthens the inner thighs.
Stand and shift your weight into your left foot. Bend the right knee and hold the ankle or foot with your hand (or use a strap or lead line if you can’t reach). Send the bent knee back behind you, while pressing the foot into the hand or strap. Reach the left hand up into the air, or rest it on a support to help you with balance. Hold for 10-20 seconds; repeat on the other side. Strengthens glutes and upper hamstrings; lengthens hip flexors.
Wide Legged Forward Bend
With your feet wide apart, slide the heels outward so that your feet are “toes in”. Feel how this foot position begins to create an inward rotation of the thigh bones, which takes place in the hip socket. Now bring your hands to your hips, and keeping your spine straight, bend forward from the hips. It does not matter how far you bend, what is important is that the movement happens in the hip joints- focus on pivoting the pelvis around the tops of the thigh bones as you come forward. Hold for 30 seconds, focusing on lengthening and relaxing the inner thighs. Then lift your abdominal muscles and come up the same way you went down: spine straight, pelvis rotating around the tops of the thigh bones. Improves range of motion in the hip joints and lengthens the inner thigh muscles.
Supine Cobbler’s Pose
This is a great way to end your yoga session if you are practicing in an area where you can lay down. Lie on your back and bend your knees, bringing the bottoms of your feet together, your knees dropped away from one another. If your hips or inner thighs feel uncomfortable, place your fists under your outer thighs for support (or use a pillow or rolled towel under each knee). Rest in this position for up to 5 minutes, focusing on the steady rhythm of your breath. Creates openness and flexibility in hips and pelvis, lengthens inner thigh muscles and encourages them to relax so that you’ll have less tendency to grip when you ride. Relaxes the mind and soothes the nervous system.
Take it to the Saddle
After your yoga practice on the ground, ride your horse at the walk on a loose rein. Feel the rocking motion of your pelvis, and allow your horse’s body to move you. Notice that your horse’s back may seem to move more than you were previously aware of, as you are now flowing with him instead of driving or blocking him; he may also lower his head and blow or lick and chew, expressing his relaxation and appreciation of your kinder seat. If your horse tenses his back and brings his head up, check in with yourself – what shifted? Notice how often you have to remind yourself to “follow” instead of lead the movement. Visualize the pelvis rotating around the tops of the thigh bones, as in the Camel Ride and Wide-legged Forward Bend pose. Let your legs be heavy and quiet, and allow the pelvis to move independently. This is a great way to begin every ride, giving your horse a chance to warm up and lengthen his back muscles while you establish your fluid, following seat and observe your horse’s feedback.
A few guidelines for yoga practice: 1)
Let your breath be your indicator. If the body is comfortable, the breath will flow easily. If your breath is strained, so is the body, so ease up!
Respect your boundaries. If you hit your edge, back off slightly so that the body can relax into the position. Forcing the body or going past your edge will only cause muscles to shorten as the body tries to protect itself from damage.
Find your place of “sweet discomfort”, where you feel like something good is happening and you are comfortable enough to stay for a while. Relax and BREATHE. Gradually your “edge” will move, the body will invite you to go further as it lets go. The aim is to release tension and lengthen muscles, and that won’t happen if the body does not feel safe.
Be patient and compassionate with yourself. This attitude will carry over into all your other relationships, both human and equine.
All practice photos by Caralee Gould
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As the weather heats up, many horses shut down
Anhidrosis or non-sweating is a serious condition that affects nearly 12 percent of horses in Florida. If left undiagnosed or untreated it can quickly become life-threatening.
What is anhidrosis? Anhidrosis or non-sweating, is the inability of horses to produce sweat. This condition affects thousands of horses worldwide, and is almost exclusively seen in horses residing in hot humid climates, like the Southeastern United States, especially Florida. There can be varying levels of anhidrosis from partial non-sweaters, where horses only sweat in patchy areas, such as under the mane or under the saddle to a complete inability to sweat. Anhidrosis can affect some horses year round, but most often horses will stop sweating during the hot humid months of the year, namely June-September, and will resume sweating normally once the weather cools off. Anhidrosis is a potentially life threatening condition. Normal horses dissipate 65 percent of their body heat through sweat evaporation, and when a non sweating horse is strenuously exercised in a hot humid climate, he can rapidly develop hyperthermia (heat stroke). Severe hyperthermia can lead to multiple organ failure, incoordination, collapse and death.
Does my horse have anhidrosis? Identifying a horse with anhidrosis is usually easy to spot. Non-sweating horses become lethargic in hot weather and will have a dry hair coat even after strenuous exercise. Horses will exhibit an increased respiratory rate, increased body temperature and high heart rates, even after short periods of exercise. Horses will take a prolonged time to cool out after exercise and will appear to be panting as they try to cool themselves. Many horses exhibit a decreased appetite and over time develop a dry dull hair coat. While most horses are diagnosed based on clinical signs, a definitive diagnosis can be made by your veterinarian doing a skin test, wherein a small amount of epinephrine or terbutaline is injected under the skin and the sweat production at the injection site is measured. Normal horses should produce a rapid sweat response at the injection site, and
Anhidrosis is most prevalent in hot humid climates. An estimated 12 percent of horses are affected by this condition. anhidrotic horses will have a delayed response or no response.
What causes anhidrosis? The exact cause of anhidrosis is unknown. It appears that some horses in hot humid climates simply have their cooling systems overburdened and they stop sweating. Research points to a problem at the level of the sweat gland. In normal horses sweating is initiated by neurotransmitters called catecholamines that act on receptors in the sweat glands. Anhidrotic horses have higher levels of these circulating catecholamines than normal horses. One theory is that over stimulation of receptors by high catecholamine levels leads to desensitization. Microscopic examination of sweat glands in anhidrotic horses does show atrophy or degeneration. This research suggests the condition is more likely a problem with the sweat glands and their response to nervous signals, rather than a lack of nervous signal production. Other research points to problems with endocrine function. A recent study at North Carolina State University suggests an association with altered thyroid function and anhidrosis. A recent study by the University of Florida identified certain risk factors associated with horses that have anhidrosis. Nearly 5,000 horses in Florida were surveyed and found that 11.2 percent percent of study horses suffered from anhidrosis. Additionally a greater percentage of horses had anhidrosis that lived in the southern part of the state when compared with central or north Florida. The study found that show and riding horses were five and 15 times more likely to have anhidrosis than ranch horses, and that Thoroughbreds, warmbloods and horses with a family history
of anhidrosis were more likely to be affected. In addition horses that foaled in the west or midwestern region of the U.S. were at higher risk of becoming anhidrotic if moved to Florida.
What can I do to help my horse? Unfortunately, scientists have not discovered a cure for equine anhidrosis. There are several medications or supplements that have been shown to help. One patented supplement is called One AC, it contains L-tyrosine, a catecholamine precursor, and other vitamins and minerals. Electrolyte supplementation usually helps as well. Thyroid supplementation may help horses that are hypothyroid, but should be carefully monitored by a veterinarian. Many owners will even give their horses beer. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and Chinese herbs show promising results. There is currently an ongoing study by Dr. Xie at the University of Florida on the treatment of equine anhidrosis with acupuncture. Only until scientists elucidate an exact cause of anhidrosis will a cure be developed, until then environmental management is the treatment of choice. The only true cure is to move the horse to a cooler environment. Moving a horse north will usually reverse anhidrosis in 10-30 days, but if the horse returns to the hot humid climate, anhidrosis will usually resume. A latitude change is, of course, not always possible, and careful management of anhidrotic horses is essential. Everything should be done to limit these horses exposure to heat stress. Employ the use of fans, misters, frequent cold water hosing, and avoid exercise or turnout during the hottest parts of the day. Some horses may need to be taken out of training completely.
If feasible, some owners will enclose a horse’s stall and install a window airconditioning unit. This can be very effective. There is no way to prevent anhidrosis from occurring, but implementing climate control strategies and treatments as soon as symptoms begin to appear can help a partial non-sweater from turning into a complete one. It is advisable to begin treatments early in the summer season, before the horse completely stops sweating.
My personal battle with anhidrosis. I currently work and reside in the hot, humid Tampa Bay area. I enjoy riding and
competing my Thoroughbred, Ripley, in lower level eventing. Ripley unfortunately suffers from anhidrosis in the summer months and is currently enjoying a hiatus from training due to the heat. I am currently treating Ripley with acupuncture, every 2-3 weeks, and he is on a prescription of Chinese herbs. He also receives electrolytes and One AC. Although I am not sure it is helping, Ripley gets a beer with every meal because he likes it so much and gets him to eat his medications. He usually gets an afternoon cold water shower and is turned out at night. Ripley typically shuts down around June 1.
Florida Sporthorse Magazine 31 At one time, he stopped sweating completely, but now he is starting to sweat in patchy areas again with the help of his treatments. Nevertheless, we are both looking forward to October. References: “Thyroid function in anhidrotic horses,” Volume 23 , Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine “An epidemiologic study of anhidrosis in horses in Florida,” May 2010, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
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Feeding for Feet
Poor nutrition impacts hoof health Reprint courtesy of Kentucky Equine Research (KER)
he nutritionists at Kentucky Equine Research are frequently asked questions about dietary influences on hoof health. Questions have been posed by farriers, veterinarians, trainers and owners. In recent years, more horse people have expressed an interest in the affects of poor nutritional status or malnutrition on hoof health. Without question, malnourishment negatively impacts hoof growth. Inadequate dietary energy, especially to the point of emaciation, hinders normal hoof development just as radically as it impedes other body processes. While hoof growth may continue at a relatively constant rate through downturns in nutrition, the quality of hoof that erupts during these periods may be severely diminished. Like other tissues, the hooves will likely improve as a horse moves from negative energy balance (too few calories in the diet to sustain body weight) to positive energy balance (calories exceed those required for maintenance of body weight). A malnourished horse in negative energy balance will use whatever nutrition it consumes or whatever it can leech from its internal stores to fuel survival. Hence,
energy is the nutrient of primary importance. Meeting energy requirements with a wellbalanced diet that contains high-quality forage and concentrates is the single most important factor when considering hoof growth and integrity of an emaciated horse. As the horse progresses in its recovery, alternative energy sources such as fermentable fiber and fat may be added to the diet. Though fat is a valuable feedstuff used to increase energy density of rations and to add shine to the coat, it does not seem to have a measurable effect on hoof growth or strength. Aside from energy, a well-balanced diet will provide nutrients the horse requires for overall health and well-being, and these in turn will help fuel sound hoof growth. High-quality protein will supply the horse with the amino acids researchers have theorized are essential for hoof growth. Over the years, scientists have studied certain amino acids more than others, namely methionine and cystine, believing that supplementation of these will benefit hoof quality. Deficiency of one or both of these amino acids may contribute to poor hoof quality, but so may the deficiency of other amino acids or
the interaction of amino acids when certain ones are missing. Researchers have examined the amino acid content of average and poor-quality hooves. They found a correlation between cystine content and hardness in normal hooves but not in poor-quality hooves. The protein of normal hooves contained higher levels of threonine, phenylalanine, and proline. Certain of these amino acids are considered essential, which means they cannot be synthesized in the body in sufficient quantities to meet the bodyâ€™s demand for them. Thus the need for high-quality protein in all diets is critical but perhaps doubly so in extreme weight-gaining situations. Protein sources composed of a high proportion of essential amino acids are classified as highquality. Soybean meal is the most common high-quality protein used in feed manufacture. In addition to energy and protein, a nutritionally sound ration features a full complement of vitamins and minerals. Premium feeds will contain chelated forms of minerals. Chelation, a process that binds a mineral to an amino acid, enhances absorption
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of the mineral. Certain minerals have been scrutinized more closely for their connection to hoof health. Zinc has been the focus of much research, primarily because it is involved in the health of skin, hair, and hooves. Evidence suggests that low levels of zinc may cause horses to be more susceptible to hoof problems. Studies showed that 25 horses with poor-quality hooves had lower blood and hoof levels of zinc than 38 horses with normal hooves. More recently, a study in Japan revealed hat
horses consuming diets low in zinc and copper were more likely to have white line disease than horses supplemented with higher levels of trace minerals. Consultation with an equine nutritionist is advised when formulating a diet for a nutritionally neglected horse. A professional will ensure that the animal’s energy, protein, vitamin, and mineral needs are met through a combination of forages and a fortified concentrate. Once the horse is nutritionally stable
Florida Sporthorse Magazine 33 and is in a state of positive energy balance, attention can be turned to the physical aspect of his hooves. A thorough hoof assessment by a competent farrier provides a baseline for future hoof care. In addition to regularly scheduled visits, a professional may be able to suggest other hoof care tips. From a nutritional point of view, a farrier might recommend the use of biotin, and justifiably so, as most of the research on hoof growth and hoof wall quality has involved this B-vitamin. Research focusing on biotin as a means of improving hoof quality in horses started in the mid-1980s. During the intervening years, various studies have found a statistically significant improvement from biotin supplementation on overall hoof condition with 20 mg per day. Biotin only improves the growth of new hoof horn, not existing hoof, so its effectiveness depends on reliable administration at recommended levels. Because of this, several weeks may elapse before a noticeable difference exists in new hoof growth near the coronary band. More than a year may pass before an entirely new hoof is grown. It should be noted that some horses respond more positively to biotin supplementation than others. Just because biotin supplementation fails to improve one horse’s hooves, doesn’t mean it will not help the next horse’s hooves. As the quality of nutrition increases, so shall the quality of hooves. Well-defined ridges, known as growth rings, may appear on the hoof walls as new growth occurs. These ripples usually reflect a significant change in the health or well-being of the horse. It is commonplace for growth rings to develop on hooves of horses that have experienced shifts in their nutritional state. For instance, some horses will develop them each year in response to spring grass. The formation of high-quality hoof tissue above the growth rings is an encouraging sign. Most well-fed horses grow serviceably sound hooves. Like other body tissues, hooves can be compromised by inadequate nutrition. When coupled with the regular care of a farrier, the provision of a diet that meets an animal’s nutritional requirements will usually remedy any hoof problems caused by malnutrition. ~Reprinted with permission of Kentucky Equine Research (copyright holder). For more information on horse nutrition and health, visit www.ker.com.
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