Florida Sporthorse Winter 2012

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Sporthorse Florida


Stallion & Breeding Issue V ol . 3, N o .2

Juan Valdez Carolina Excellent Performer and Sire for Dressage/Jumping

2008 Ukrania Car. Hunter

2007 Toya Car. Dressage

2006 Son of Juan Car. Dressage

2006 Son of Juan Car. Jumper

2008 Casanova. Dressage

1997 Approved Selle Francais/Oldenburg Stallion Black 17.0 H ~ Sired by Bonjour Booking Fee: $200 ~ Breeding Fee: $1000 Standing at 3H Equestrian Center ~ Citra, FL

Sandi Nargiz (850) 933-8662



2008 Usher Car. Jumper

Sporthorse Florida

winter 2012


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4 Editor’s Note Tag drives support for horses

24 What’s Cookin’ The case for cooked grains

6 Matt McLaughlin Under the spotlight and in the ring

26 Common Ground Fostering the vet/farrier relationship

10 Home Front Committee makes case for Thoroughbreds

30 Aging Equines 10 tips for caring for older horses

12 Casual Competition Shows for budget-friendly competition

32 Fit and Flexible Stretches for success in the saddle

14 Perfect Match Florida breeders discuss stallion selection

34 Get it Straight Yoga postures that enable proper posture

18 Deep Healing Acupuncture can break the cycle of injury

36 Shoulders Back Exercises to help upper body position

20 Foaling Preparing for the Blessed Event

38 Medal Minded A young rider’s journey to the Maclay

“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire.” ~Sharon Ralls Lemon

4 Inside Florida Sporthorse

Which tag supports horses?

Karen Kennedy/Icon Studios

Christie Gold


rom saving manatees to supporting breast cancer research to saluting professional or college sports teams, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles provides the state’s drivers with a variety of ways to support their favorite cause. Since 2002, specialty plates have provided over $33 million to various organizations. The University of Florida’s plate alone has generated nearly $2.5 million for academic enhancement programs at the school. With the state’s $6 billion-plus horse industry, it seems only natural that an equine plate would be one of the options, and equine enthusiasts have two: the Discover Florida’s Horses plate and the Horse Country

plate. Florida’s multitude of license plates are marketed as a means to support a variety of charitable organizations, yet those causes are not always aligned with the image on the plate. Represented charities and universities receive funds from the tags, but other benefactors have irrelevant connections. Only one of the two horsethemed plates actually supports a horse-related cause: Discover Florida Horses. Enacted in October 2010, fees from the sale of the horse and beachthemed plate benefit the Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park Authority, better known as The Florida Horse Park. The 500-acre Ocala complex is host to a variety of competitions throughout the year in nearly every horse-related discipline. Initially, funds from the horse plate were expected to bring in an estimated $250,000 a year to help fund the park. In 2009, the legislature killed plans for the plate, and the $100,000 application fee further burdened the cash-strapped complex. Since then, the park has secured grants for improvements as well as private investors and has whittled away its debt. Still, much hope rests in the popularity of the Discover Horses plate.


Sporthorse Florida

Editor and Publisher Christie R. Gold

Senior Contributor Jane Whitehurst

Advertising Manager Sara Scozzafava In contrast, the Horse Country plate has no direct impact on the equine industry. Enacted in 2008, proceeds from the over 2000 plates sold have been distributed to PCMI Properties, Inc., a group whose mission is to oversee funding for programs that serve Florida’s at risk youth. Currently, the lone recipient of the funds is the AMIkids Panama City Marine Institute. Proceeds support educational and vocational programs at the facility. No doubt, the Horse Country tag supports a worthy cause. Nevertheless, sport horse enthusiasts who rely on quality facilities where they can ride and show should pay attention to which tag graces the back of their SUV, pick-up or horse trailer.



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Editorial Office 8205 Quail Run Dr. Wesley Chapel, FL 33544 (813) 973-3770

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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, combined driving, 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.

V ol . 3, N o .2

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.

“The Peek” is the work of Morriston sporthorse breeder Barbara Carry. Carry and Ocala’s Judy Yancey are featured in this month’s Q and A on choosing the best stallions for a breeding program. Photo by Barbara Carry FLASporthorse

Florida Sporthorse Magazine

“Come along for the ride!”


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1. Jane Whitehurst is a 1982 University of Florida graduate from the College of Agriculture where she majored in Animal Science. In 1985, she earned her master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Nova University. For 20 years she taught high school science. Along with their husband, she recently purchased Nosara Farms in Odessa where she provides boarding, training and lessons. Since 1985 Jane has been an active competitor in the dressage ring and has recently earned her USDF Gold Medal. 2. Amber Kimball is an FEI dressage trainer based in Ocala. In 1997 she began her dressage career as a working student in the stable of Olympic Bronze medalist Gina Smith. In 2001 she travelled to Belgium to hold a working student position in the stable of Grand Prix trainers, Penny and Johan Rockx. In 2002, she returned to the US to ride for Belinda Nairn-Wertman until the spring of 2010. Amber has sucessfully trained and shown horses from Training level through Intermediare II and has earned her USDF Silver medal. She now operates Southern Lights Dressage in Ocala, FL. 3. Debra Redmond, ND has trained and shown through the FEI levels of dressage and has garnered 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 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.

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The Faces of Florida Sporthorse

4. Debbie Rodriguez, creator of the Success in the Saddle equestrian fitness DVD series, is a United States Dressage Federation Gold Medalist, USEF ‘S’ Dressage Judge, USEF ‘r’ Dressage Technical Delegate, USEF ‘r’ Eventing Judge and USEF ‘r’ Eventing Technical Delegate and International Sports Sciences Association certified personal fitness coach.


5. Ruth-Anne Richter, BSc (hon), DVM, MS, received her veterinary degree from the Atlantic Veterinary College on Prince Edward Island, Canada in 1995 after finishing a Bachelor of Science (Hon) degree. Dr. Richter did an equine internship at Mississippi State University, and following a year in private practice began a surgical residency at the University of Illinois. She completed her surgical residency and concurrent Master of Science degree in 2000. Since then, Dr. Richter has worked as a staff surgeon at Reid and Associates in West Palm Beach, the Equine Specialty Hospital in Ohio and East End Equine in Long Island, New York. Dr. Richter joined Surgi-Care Center for Horses in 2005 as a staff surgeon. Prior to attending veterinary school, Dr. Richter was farm manager for Christilot Hanson-Boylen, a member of Canada’s Dressage Team.



6. Lynn Palm holds 34 Reserve and World Championships and four “Superhorse” Championships. Impressive as her performance record is, Palm says that her



primary goal is to educate others on forming correct riding skills and building knowledge to increase the riding longevity of their horses. 7. 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. She teaches yoga classes privately by appointment. Her Yoga for Equestrians audio CDs are available at Ocala tack stores and at www.movingintobalance.com. 8. Jean White is the owner of Hammock Farms in Brooksville, 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 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 for dressage and competitive driving. 9. Dr Nerida Richards is Managing Director and Principal Consultant of Equilize Horse Nutrition Pty Ltd, a company that specializes in providing independent, professional advice in all areas of equine nutrition. Within her role, Dr Richards provides high-level technical support to numerous national and international feed and supplement companies, as well as on the ground advice and technical support to breeding and training establishments. Dr Richards also designed, developed and commercialized the Equilize Feeding Management Software which has been more recently upgraded to the FeedXL nutrition software that is now used by breeders, trainers and fellow nutritionists throughout Australia, New Zealand, The USA, Canada and parts of South East Asia. 10. Jennifer Bate is a freelance writer and an Arabian horse owner who has been riding and showing at the national level since the age of 12. She and her horses have earned a combined 23 national titles and 36 regional titles with the Arabian Horse Association (AHA) and the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). A three-time winner of a USEF National Champion Horse of the Year Award, she has also earned numerous AHA Legion Achievement Awards including Legion of Excellence Champion in 2008. Jennifer is currently enrolled in graduate studies in journalism at the University of Florida. 11. Savanna Peterson is currently a junior at Steinbrenner High School in Tampa. She has shown in Hunters and Equitation ranging from Short Stirrups to Child/Adult Hunter and Equitation. Although she is currently horseless, she enjoys all aspects of horsemanship, and has been involved with the sport on and off for ten years.

6 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Dinner theater to dressage arena Central Florida trainer Matt McLaughlin has a knack for reprogramming difficult horses and transforming them into top-notch performers Christie Gold


n auto mechanic fixes problems and finetunes engines so that they return to their owners as high-performance machines that can tackle the demands of the road. It seems only fitting that one of dressage trainer Matt McLaughlin’s hobbies includes restoring classic cars, because many of the horses that work their way to him are in need of repair. In McLaughlin’s skilled hands, they find their way to successful careers in the show ring or under the lights at Orlando’s Arabian Nights dinner theater where he is the head trainer. As a kid, his next door neighbor was dressage icon Gunnar Ostergaard, though at the time, young McLaughlin was not particularly interested in dressage. “All I wanted to do was jump, but I watched him train, and I took lessons and learned from many of the people who came to work with him.” Some of those riders included accomplished equestrians Beth Tate, Heidi Erickson and Nancy Polozker. At 18, McLaughlin went to work for Chuck Grant. Considered one of the “Founding Fathers” of dressage in America, Grant had a background in classical dressage from US Army Colonels Isaac Kitts and Hiram Tuttle, but he was also influenced by Arthur Konyot, the head of a famous circus family. “Chuck taught me how to do all the tricks. He’s the one who really got me interested,” McLaughlin said. McLaughlin says that although dressage has evolved and changed since Grant was riding and training, he still appreciates that his mentor’s horses went in the ring and willingly performed every time. In his early 20s, the Lippizan Stallion Show hired McLaughlin as principal rider and high school trainer for their Las Vegas-based show. There, and later on the road with the traveling show, McLaughlin refined his training techniques. He also met Lori Beggs, his training partner for the past 20 years. “We did lots of training on the road. We had lots of horses and lots of free rein, but we tried to make everything as correct as possible. We learned what worked and what didn’t. I am proud of the work we did. During the ’96-’97 tour, the show had the most airs [airs above the ground] horses and the most Grand Prix horses, yet I still look back on that time with a critical eye.” The friends and colleagues banter like an old married couple, but the level of respect between them is evident. Although the business bears his name, McLaughlin is quick to acknowledge Beggs’

Photos courtesy of Matt McLaughlin

Above: Central Florida trainer Matt McLaughlin on Cooper V. After months of retraining, the gelding placed 5th in Intermediare I at the USDF Regional Championships. Right: McLaughlin on his longtime partner, Coral. The horse once known as a “pit viper” has traveled a half million miles performing in shows and exhibitions.

talent. “I have a talent for teaching piaffe. People say I can teach a cow to piaffe. Lori is an expert at passage—that is her gift--so we really complement each other.” Today, along with Heather Black, Beggs and McLaughlin run Matt McLaughlin dressage from their home base in St. Cloud. McLaughlin rides and trains in the mornings, commutes to Orlando to work at Arabian Nights in the afternoons and evenings, and manages a busy clinic schedule on the weekends. In the open, airy barn (which McLaughlin designed and built) stallions live harmoniously next to other stallions. All the horses hang their heads contentedly over their stall doors or munch

quietly on hay. Step one in McLaughlin’s program: return horses, who may have been pushed too hard, too fast, to a balanced state. “We are all about bringing horses to a sane and stable state of mind before they go into the show ring.” A prime example is Cooper V, a 16.2 Danish Warmblood gelding. The horse had shown through Intermediate before coming to McLaughlin with lackluster results. McLaughlin says the gelding would enter the ring and go through the motions of the test without much enthusiasm. ‘Everything we get had a problem at some point. We like to think we have a unique way of fixing things. It’s a combination of strategies, but





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we use natural horsemanship techniques to get them thinking the way a horse should again,” he said. “Cooper didn’t know how to interact with other horses. He had no personality. His eyes were always to the front of the bus. He’d been campaigned so much. He knew the drill, and he’d go into the ring, but he had no spark.” As he leans his head over his stall gate, playfully tugging at McLaughlin’s shirt, it’s hard to believe it’s the same animal. “He’s allowed to be a horse here. He just needed to be reprogrammed.” Last October, Cooper placed 5th at Intermediate I at the 2011 regional championships and will debut at Grand Prix this year. Each of the 18 horses in the barn has a story, but none is as lengthy or as colorful as that of Coral II, a 27-year-old Andalusian. McLaughlin’s exhibition longtime exhibition partner was once known as a “pit viper” who broke handlers’ arms and was deemed nearly unrideable. He first entered McLaughlin’s life in 1992. He took him on as a project and integrated him into the Lipizzan Stallion Show. McLaughlin tried to purchase the horse early on, but he was sold to an entertainment company. The feisty grey proved too much for his handlers and ended up in a pasture before boomeranging back into McLaughlin’s life in 2001. “I got him for the cost it took to ship him from Colorado,” he said. Since then, McLaughlin estimates that he and Coral have traveled a half million miles together, performing in exhibitions around the country. McLaughlin now stands Pecos, Coral’s nephew. The versatile stallion, who was recently immortalized as part of the Breyer horse collection, qualified for USDF championships at Prix St. George and Intermediare 1 in 2009 and 2010, and he travels North America to perform in la garrocha exhibitions. The art of working with the 12-foot garrocha pole (used by Spanish cowboys to move cattle), has been developed into an artistic performance popular at Andalusian shows. Although he is grateful for the experience he gained touring with the Lippizzan Stallion Show and performing at countless exhibitions under lights in front of cheering crowds, McLaughlin has stepped out of the spotlight in order to focus on earning his judging license, becoming a better competitor and increasing his clinic base. Part of the United States Dressage Federation’s L judging program, McLaughlin has set a goal to graduate with distinction so that he can enter the USEF program. He credits the program with making him more aware of what a rider must do in front of a judge in order to score well. It may seem ironic that McLaughlin, who has performed in front of thousands of spectators would need to focus more becoming a better competitor. “It’s easier to elicit applause than a score,” he said. “In the ring, you have to be correct for one person vs. entertaining 10,000 people. I can be much more flamboyant with movements when I perform, but those same movements must be balanced and correct for a judge.” McLauglin says he has a tendency to keep trianing when he’s in the arena. “I need to learn to take myself out of the

Florida Sporthorse Magazine 9

training realm when I’m in the ring. You can’t be a trainer there. A good competitor knows when to let things go in the ring and how to present each movement to the judge.” He points to Olympian Steffan Peters as a rider who can elicit the right response from a horse in a strong and quiet way. As head trainer at Arabian Nights, McLaughlin is responsible for the education of 20-25 riders and 47 horses. He also has gained a steady calendar of clinics both in Florida and out of state. He takes pride in working with the riders who return to his clinics each month. “When you have riders who work so hard to improve, those nine to ten-hour days at clinics go so fast. I love teaching. I love learning how things work. My approach to training horses and teaching riders is the same way. When you see the homework—the mechanics—transformed into feel, that’s the reward.” Just as McLaughlin works to restore horses to a balanced state, he wants to help people be more in tune with their horses. It’s a valuable lesson he’s learned in the decades that he has worked as a trainer. “Horses have made me a better person. I had a bad temper and a big ego in my 20s. Horses don’t let ego get involved. They don’t live in emotion. They establish a dynamic in the herd, and once that is established, there is peace in the herd. Wouldn’t it be great if people got along like that?”

Photos courtesy of Matt McLaughlin

Top: McLaughlin and Pecos perform in a la garrocha exhibition. Championships. Bottom: The versatile Pecos now competes in FEI dressage.

Home front

Committee discusses the future of Thoroughbreds

C. Gold/FSM

Jennifer Bate At the Annual Show Jumping meeting held by the United States Equestrian Federation Nov. 3, the USEF called for competitors to look to Americanbred horses for their competition mounts. “We are quickly losing our identity and it is very, very sad,” said American legend and current USET Show Jumping Chef D’Equipe George Morris. Morris recounted the beginning of the wave of outsourcing, when Americans began to look abroad for horses. He told a story of being over in Europe with Micheal Matz, Karen [O’Connor]

and a Dutch friend that he grew up with when they bought a little horse named Vivaldi. After Vivaldi came Calypso. Then everyone wanted a ‘Calypso’, and so began the tsunami of horse importation. In understanding the downside of horse importation, it is critical to acknowledge that American riders’ international competition originates from the very countries where they look to buy horses. The truly amazing breeding programs in Europe maintain their strong lineage as they are under strict control by governing bodies. In the name of country and competition, Europeans sell their second-rate ‘greats’ to Americans. They opt to sell their best to their countrymen instead of foreign competition, leaving

The golden age of jumping highlighted the now nearly forgotten American Thoroughbred Americans purchasing the ones they were willing to part with. The exported horses may be talented and high-quality, but still most of their greatest horses remain across the pond. Are the fine European warmbloods imported to America their greatest horses for sale or just great

enough to sell to eager American equestrians? Even more important yet, are those the best horses we can get? According to George Morris, the answer is no. He and others believe horses we should be going after are not the greatest of the Europeans horses which usually remain abroad, rather, it is a different breed all together. At the USEF Annual Show Jumping Open Forum, Morris recalled something his early European mentors always told him: that the best sporthorses are American Thoroughbreds. “The American Thoroughbred is the best sport horse in the world. I had two very early European mentors, Otto Heuckeroth at Ox Ridge, who was a great horseman, and Bertalan de Németh, who both told me repeatedly, ‘George, the best horses in the world are these American Thoroughbred horses.’ Those were Europeans.” Thoroughbreds have been bred for sport. They are bred for their speed and great endurance. They have strong hindquarters that can powerfully lift them over jumps and deeply sloped shoulders that are built for muscle. According to the United States Equestrian Federation, Thoroughbreds composed 41 percent of horses registered for national competitions in 1982. Today that number is down to 10 percent.

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Over the last decade, there has been a tremendous decline in the number of American Thoroughbreds competing in sport horse disciplines. As competing Thoroughbred numbers declined sharply, the number of European warmbloods has skyrocketed. Murray Kessler, who serves on the North American Rider Group, said that Americans face significant disadvantage in the area of breeding. This is due to the overwhelming majority of our horses descending from European bloodlines. “These large and well-established breeding programs are tightly controlled by governing

bodies, and are by the governments themselves, such as France. Simply said, we get second choice for the best horses in the world.” While many competitors look to Europe for the horses, Thoroughbreds are being overlooked. “We need to tap into the Thoroughbred breeders in the United States and show them there is big money to be made beyond racing,” Kessler said. The golden age of jumping highlighted the now-near-forgotten American Thoroughbred. But today, those names, Gem Twist, For the Moment, Touch of Class and Idle Dice, are fondly

Florida Sporthorse Magazine 11 remembered for their strength, success, and being a part of jumping’s glory days. Morris stated that somehow in the next 25 years, he would like ‘to see some people with deep pockets get back to that direction and utilize this internal resource.’ “Somehow, we have to get back to the horses we have in this country. There are tens of thousands of horses out there,”emphasized Morris. “There are Gem Twists out there, For the Moments out there. There are all these horses.”

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Casual Competition Schooling shows provide experience without the expense Amber Kimball

Diane Morrison

Above and right: Caroline Morrison competes at a variety of schooling shows with both her jumper, Encore (above), and her young dressage horse, Dee Clair. Schooling shows are a way to sharpen skills for before rated shows or to give young horses mileage in the show ring.

“I would love to show my horse but I just can’t afford it.” “I would show but it has been years since I’ve been able to squeeze into my coat.” “I wish I could compete but my horse is too spooky.” “I’ve always wanted to show but my nerves get the best of me in the ring.” Do any of these statements sound familiar? If showing is on your to-do list this year but there’s something holding you back, consider a schooling show instead of a USEF recognized show. At a schooling show you will get all the fun and experience of the completion arena without the big expense and high pressure environment. You may even earn some nice ribbons and prizes to take home too. One of the biggest advantages of a schooling

Attire at most schooling shows is casual. There is no need to squeeze into your old show coat or spend an hour perfecting your horse’s braids. Turnout for the rider is usually tidy hair under a helmet, a polo shirt and clean half chaps and boots. For your horse, a good grooming, a clean saddle pad and his normal tack are all he needs. Should you enjoy riding in your show coat and braiding your horse’s mane you are always welcome to do so. The hour saved by not braiding could be an extra hour of sleep on the morning of the show. The money saved on show attire might pay for your schooling show entries. Just be sure to check the show program for specific rules on attire. A schooling show is a great place to take a young or inexperienced horse. In a recognized show, a horse that makes a big mistake will be

One of the biggest advantages of a schooling show is that it doesn’t drain your wallet... show is that it doesn’t drain your wallet as much as a recognized competition. Schooling shows don’t require costly memberships to the national organizations. You may be required to be a member of the local club that hosts the show but usually the rates for local memberships are modest. Most often the entry fees for a schooling show are priced to be affordable on a tighter budget. The lower costs make schooling shows accessible to almost any rider. Many clubs even offer year end awards for exhibitors attending multiple shows during the competition year.

eliminated and required to exit the arena. This could be a dressage horse jumping out of the ring or a hunter refusing too many fences. Often the judges at a schooling show are more lenient. The horse will still be eliminated from the competition for a major error but the competitor will be allowed to finish the round for schooling purposes. This extra time in the ring can help a nervous horse overcome his fear of the show arena. A schooling show is also a good place to see if your seasoned competition horse is ready to

Diane Morrison

move up a level. He can get used to a tougher level of competition with less pressure to perform perfectly. The advantage of making mistakes at a schooling show is that the low scores or eliminations will not be marked on his permanent USEF record. Once the horse is confident in the ring he has a better chance of filling his record with good scores at the recognized shows. This can be very important for a horse intended for sale in the future. Schooling shows are a good place for a rider to develop confidence in the show ring. For a nervous rider, recognized shows can be intimidating with the busy warm up rings full of professionals on top-dollar horses and amateurs chasing national year-end championships. While you most certainly will see some lovely horse and rider combinations at a schooling show, the exhibitors tend to be adult amateurs showing for fun and professionals bringing along young or problem horses. If you get nervous when it’s time for your round, just remember, the ringside spectators at a schooling show are fellow competitors and their friends and family. They know what it’s like to be in the completion arena and have plenty of stories to tell. Don’t be surprised if you meet some new friends on show day. Schooling shows can be a gateway into recognized competition or a fun way to compete with less stress and expense. They can make your dreams of competing more than just wishful thinking.


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Perfect Match

Two well-respected Florida breeders offer their insights on producing quality sporthorses Jane Whitehurst


rom stallion selection to the importance of the mare in a breeding program and the future of sport horse breeding in this country, two Florida warmblood breeders have strong opinons on the industry. Barbara Carry (BC) and her husband Alan own Gift Hill Farm, a 35-acre farm in Morriston, five miles from HITS. Barbara was born in New Yorkand has a BS in Biology from Stony Brook University. Barbara has been involved with horses and breeding for over 30 years and has spent the last 14 years breeding her own horses. She specializes in breeding and raising young horses for the hunter and jumper rings. At their private barn are some select boarders, the farm’s broodmares and young horses for sale. For people who purchase a young horse from their breeding program, they offer boarding at a reasonable rate. www.gifthillfarm.com Yancey Farms originated in Grapevine, Texas, in 1975 with the purchase of a Trakehner stallion, Beaute, and several Trakehner mares. Soon more Trakehner stallions were purchased including the legendary Donauwind, sire of Olympic gold medal winner, Abdullah, as well as Reiner Klimke’s Fabian. In 1981 Judy Yancey (JY) began importing mares from Holland to begin her program of outcrossing Trakehner blood with other warmblood populations. In the late 1980’s, she was the first to begin the importation and marketing of frozen semen usage in the U.S. which continues to grow today. All the stallions in her frozen semen program are hand selected for suitability to the U.S. market and mare base. Today, at her Ocala farm, Judy’s passion to produce quality foals for the dressage market continues. She still imports a few outstanding mares from Germany to add to Yancey Farm’s broodmare base. Along with breeding warmbloods Judy is breeding Kiger Mustangs, in an all dun-factored herd managed by the Bureau of Land Management in southeast Oregon. These days it is the big Kiger mustang geldings she enjoys riding. www.YancyFarms.com FSM: How have American breeders of European

Warmbloods evolved in the last twenty years?

BC: The biggest and most positive transformation I

have seen in this country with respect to breeding has been the use of better mares; both Thoroughbred and European Warmbloods. Gone for the most part, thankfully, is breeding any off-the-track Thoroughbred mare or breeding a warmblood mare just because she has a brand.

Breeders and buyers are much more selective and educated. JY: In the 1990’s, I began introducing the concept of

breeding with frozen semen. Some of the breeders really embraced the new technology, but only a few had a good broodmare base. As the door opened wider to travel to Germany and to buy horses for riding and breeding, our breeding stock improved. In 1981, I began importing quality fillies into the U.S. as often as I was financially able to. Most definitely, the single most important equation to a successful breeding program is solid-producing mares. FSM: Any fads or trends that could be taking

breeding into an unfavorable light?

JY: New trends are those awful “message boards”

that some people frequent. The amount of misinformation is astonishing, and it fuels the craziness to flock to the newest “stallion of the month.” Many U.S. breeders are not seasoned enough to objectively comb through every young fancy stallion that comes along. FSM: Speak to the many warmblood registries that

are open to Thoroughbreds either in the past or presently. What have they done for the breed? Are breeders still looking for an influx of Thoroughbred blood, or do they feel there is enough in the blood line? BC: I believe Thoroughbreds will continue to be

used selectively in warmblood breeding. I have buyers specifically interested in F1 offspring. Thoroughbreds like Coconut Grove xx are proving themselves an asset to the gene pool. Many owners don’t realize how much Thoroughbred blood is behind their horse. It may be a couple of generations back, but it is there and often in high percentage. JY: In the right hands, the introduction of refining

blood like the TB can be very important. The problem is that in the U.S. breeders tend to introduce the TB blood only through the mare...and quite often she was a race track reject purchased for a minimal amount without professional objectivity as to her conformation, way of going, or suitability to be a sport horse. In Europe, the TB blood is generally introduced through a top stallion carefully chosen, performance tested, and thereby selected for his sporthorse qualities. In my opinion, the introduction of TB blood is best through the stallion than the occasional TB mare. This is true for the introduction of Trakehner blood into modern warmbloods. I began my breeding farm with good Trakehners back in 1975. I have been successful in blending

that blood with Oldenburg and Dutch blood to produce some top-notch athletes, but unless you know what your mare produces, or how strong she is in her offspring, the use of Trakehner blood should be done very judiciously.

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FSM: Obviously, the foal receives 50 percent of their


BC: Mares do influence a foal’s temperament. The


genes from both the dam and sire, so is it a myth that the mare often counts for more than 50 percent of the foals phenotype? Also, is it true that the temperament typically comes from the mare?

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Florida Sporthorse Magazine 15

Left: Judy Yancey’s mare Reina H and her daughter Finale by Furst Heinrich. Below: Another of Yancey’s mares, Heide von Brandenburg and her filly by Belissimo M. Both fillies received strong traits from their dams. Bottom: Barbara Carry’s West Meadow, by Westporte X Joyeux (Jupiter).

Courtesy of Judy Yancey

the short term temperament of my embryo transfer babies, but eventually I believe their interior qualities, that are bred in, and generally from the dam, will show. FSM: Are there other breeding myths you would

like to address?

BC: The myth I have found to not be true is that a

mare’s first foal will be smaller. Since my farms seems to be a magnet for in-foal maiden mares, I believe I have plenty of evidence to dispute the claim. While a first foal may be born smaller, they soon catch up. I have not found maidens to produce a horse that matures smaller than its genetics.

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mare nurtures and teaches the foal the first six or so months of its life. Undoubtedly, characteristics will be picked up by the foal. One of my mares is very alpha and all of her foals have grown up to be confident as well as dominant with other horses.

heir yth ent the

JY: The broodmares in my program are very strong


producers; they strongly influence not only the exterior qualities of their offspring, but also the interior qualities. I depend on my mares to produce the foal I have in mind. I tend to choose a stallion that will complement her and add a bit of sparkle. I do see a difference in

FSM: Were many of your broodmares shown and

therefore have their own performance records? In the future do you see more surrogate mares being used so the breeding mare can continue showing and establishing their own performance record? Or do you think the dam’s sire instead of the dam will continue to be what the buyer focuses on? BC: The permanent members of my small

important in your broodmares? How far do you go back in studying the genotype? What components do you like to see in the phenotype?

broodmare band all have performance records. Our philosophy has always been quality, not quantity. My goal is to breed as close to the whole package as possible: exceptional temperaments, conformation, soundness, jump, pedigree and movement.

BC: It is important to be aware of the genotype

JY: Doing embryo transfers on performance

FSM: Do you consider phenotype or genotype more

Barbara Carry

Courtesy of Judy Yancey

set necks, but most of all they must be feminine and show good mothering skills. I use the stallion to just tweak the quality, adding that extra dash of brilliance. For me, genotype and phenotype go hand in hand, without compromise.

of the horses used in breeding by researching pedigrees for those traits that are consistently passed on. I look at both pedigrees to at least five generations but seven generations is even better when considering stallions for my mares. My goal is to produce exceptional athletes by consolidating the positive sport gene. There is also much value in the phenotype to help identify which part of the pedigree is being expressed. My focus is on producing a good temperament and jump. JY: All of my horses are of the same “type.” I like

what I like, so they all fall into that vision. That said, I want that “type” to come from consolidated breeding lines so that I have a better than average chance of reproducing the same animal in the next generation. My mares are solid-framed with good joints and legs. I love a good top line, nice faces and well

mares is an unreliable option, limited by cost and percentages. It’s a great idea but it often doesn’t pan out. Therefore, the top performance mares generally don’t get a chance to prove themselves as breeders until well into later years giving them less impact on the overall breeding population. FSM: How do you decide which stallion is the

best match for your broodmare? Do you breed physically similar horses? Do you like to keep the blood lines similar or do you look for completely different blood? BC: Generally, I try to breed similar type horse.

I would be happy to reproduce any of my broodmares, though of course the goal is to improve each generation. Realizing that no horse is perfect, I breed to stallions which have the traits I would like to improve in my mares and which that stallion

16 Florida Sporthorse Magazine has shown to reproduce. JY: I tend to breed “like to like.” I cannot agree with

the breeding idea that if the mare has a short back breed her to a stallion with a long back. If there is not some general “likeness” you might end up with the worst of both. I also tend to be a producer of breeding stock--meaning they are good athletes with solid conformation, good minds and athletic ability. This is paramount, but equally important are homogenous bloodlines. I like line-breeding which creates individuals that should pass on the attributes of their forbearers. I will do “out-crossing” of bloodlines if the stallion is a spectacular phenotype for my mare.

an exciting young stallion on my very proven mares, but I abide by one very important rule: “No freshmen sires on maiden mares.” Sadly, many unseasoned breeders will use any new, young, and fancy stallion that comes along. These stallions haven’t yet proven that they can stamp their top qualities into their offspring. Until a breeder really knows what their mare will produce, I believe it is best to stay with a very proven stallion that will produce what the breeder is looking for. Some of my favorite tested, tried and true boys are Florestan, DeNiro, Don Schufro, Jazz and Diamond Hill, to name a few. FSM: What are you thoughts on imported stallions

verses stallions that now live in the U.S. Are there still a lot of people wanting frozen semen from Europe? In the future do you see the U.S. being as

competitive with their stallions as oversees? BC: There will always be a market for frozen semen

from Europe. And while the United States certainly has stallions on par with Europe, we just don’t have the depth. Breeding in the U.S. has to improve by leaps and bounds, and I think the number of comparable stallion to those in Europe will continue to grow. JY: Until mare owners get a bit more schooled and

objective about the quality of their mares, we will not become a stallion powerhouse. The top quality stallions belong to Europe so far, and frozen semen is becoming more commonplace and user friendly. It is our best access to the top genetics of our sports.

FSM: What would you say to a mare

owner who wanted to breed her mare even though she has serious faults?

AB Whittier

BC: If someone asks me if they should

breed their mare with glaring faults or temperament issues, I ask them if they would want a duplicate of that mare.

2007 dark brown, RPSI stallion Approved RPSI, ISR/OLD NA, and GOV

FSM: In considering a stallion, how

2011 North American 70-Day Stallion Test Scores

much does his approval record account for, or are you more interested in his performance record? Do you only go with the “big name” stallion or might you go with a lesser name or younger stallion if you really liked his pedigree? What is the most important trait you can get from the stallion?

0verall: 117 Dressage: 120 Jumping: 110

Character: 9.5 Temperament: 9.5 Willingness to work: 9.5 Constitution: 10

Photo Credits: Gallop and head shots: emilypeak photography

BC: When considering a stallion, I am

interested in as much information as possible. A stallion test is a great start and if they are old enough, then a solid performance career and a good look at their offspring. I don’t breed to a “big name” stallion based on a fad or hype. I may use a popular stallion because he is popular for a reason-he is extraordinary. I am also willing to breed to a young or lesser known stallion, though I don’t very often. I have used Golan, (Goy {Gotthard}X Ferdinand), an Oldenberg stallion, a few times, and he is not well known but he is truly an impressive horse in just about every way. As far as the most important trait, I have to have it all. Since I breed mainly for the hunter ring, jump is of great importance. However, I will not sacrifice scope for movement. Fortunately, my mares are very good to true 10 movers, and they contribute considerably in the movement department. JY: I specifically look for athletic

ability in a stallion--how he uses his legs, suppleness, and willingness to work. You will find that these horses also tend to have good performance records. I believe that quality of individuals generally goes with the quality of performance. I love to use

Weltstern (OLD) Welt Marke (OLD) AB Whittier Patricia (HAN)

Freiluft (OLD) Prince Optimus (HAN) Wendy (OLD)

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18 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Deep Healing

min stu fur

Using acupuncture to help break the cycle of injury

Debra Redmond It takes a village to keep our equine athletes functioning at their peak level. A proper diet, hoof care, veterinary care, dental care, proper-fitting tack and a conditioning program that is individualized for each animal play a part in the health and well-being of our horses. Despite our attention to our animals’ needs, however, injuries sometimes occur. To the body, both human and equine, injury of any kind sounds an immediate alarm. It doesn’t really matter where the site of the injury occurs, each system in the body is affected. If your horse sustains an injury to his shoulder that isn’t evident visually, you might not be able to identify the initial injury site. All beings have the ability to compensate for the sake of their survival. Horses, being prey animals, are incredibly good at compensating. In the natural world an injured horse is some predator’s lunch. Whether the injury involves the dermis, muscle, tendon, ligament or bone, there is a clear cycle of healing that takes place within the body. When an injury occurs, cells adjacent to the injury are called into action. The adjacent cells responses include informing neighboring systems within the body until the entire system has been informed of the issue. The injury site and the systems most vulnerable to damage are the first to be informed. Nerves send an immediate pain signal to the brain. The reason for this is to limit damage to the organism. If the pain signal received by the brain is strong enough, the entire body goes into a “survival” mode. An example of this type of signal might be a broken bone or some other type of trauma that requires the entire system to limit physical damage immediately. The nerves conveying the pain message are so loud that the system interprets the signal as life threatening and every accompanying system is put on high alert. The body goes into shock with the ultimate goal of preserving life for the organism. If the pain signal is minimal, the body’s interpretation may simply be to compensate by using some other muscle group. An example of this type of injury might be a repetitive use of a muscle group. Think about the

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Courtesy of Debra Redmond

Debra Redmond treats Saint, a St. Bernard/Border Collie cross with a laser. Laser acupuncture is a useful therapy for treating a variety of injuries.

slightly differently. Some individuals have a higher pain tolerance than others. In an earlier article I wrote describing the five Chinese elements, I described the element type that would react to the pain signal more dramatically. A horse whose constitutional element is dominantly water would probably interpret the pain signal very differently than a metal horse. Knowing the constitutional element of your horse may help to increase your awareness of your horse’s response to pain. If you know that your horse has a high tolerance for pain you’ll have to be especially diligent with your management and training. The next element of the injury cycle occurs

Any decrease in normal range of motion within a muscle, tendon or ligament can have a negative implication for movement and increase the likelihood of injury in the future... last time you overdid some type of activity. If you repeatedly lift and lower bags of feed, your muscles fatigue and soon you’ll notice that your body wants to compensate by moving in a different manner in order to relieve the originally stressed muscle groups. Every organism also interprets the pain signal

are to h inju the you

at the site of the injury. Blood vessels which are damaged leak blood into the tissues adjacent to the site. Dying and dead cells accumulate in the surrounding tissue. Depending on the severity of the injury tissue may be torn, nerve pathways disrupted, tendon and ligaments stretched or severed and bone

broken or bruised. The muscles fibers surrounding the area contract forming a “splint” to stabilize the injury site. Due to the contraction of these tissues circulation is decreased to the area. Obvious signs of injury such as blood loss, swelling, heat or loss of function are a result of chemicals released by dying cells which act as stimulants for the gathering of excess fluid or swelling. Specialized cells rush to the injured site to clear away the dying cells and tissue. Stabilizing the injured tissues and edema limit blood flow to the area, which cause the surrounding muscle tissues to weaken and shrink. Adhesions can form around the initial injury site. These stiff, gristly scarred areas affect the muscles ability to function normally and can restrict the natural range of motion. Any muscle, joint, tendon or ligament can be affected in this manner due to an injury. Any decrease in normal range of motion within a muscle, tendon or ligament can have a negative implication for movement and increases the likelihood of injury in the future, thus setting up the cycle of injury to reoccur. Until recently it was thought that the best course of action to be taken to repair an injury was to rest the system. For horses this usually means being confined to stall rest. While some injuries still require that horses be confined in order to


minimize further damage, there are more and more studies showing that controlled, slow activity can further the healing process. Just as physical and complementary therapies are available to people, there are options available to horses that need rehabilitation. Depending on the injury and your veterinarian’s recommendations, there are choices available to aid the recovery of your horse. Acupuncture can assist in healing many injuries. Two of the most useful methods of acupuncture for injury are electroacupuncture (EAP) or laser acupuncture. EAP or electroacupuncture is particularly useful for injuries caused by repetitive use. These injuries often have a marked amount of muscle spasm and splinting off of tissues with accompanying restrictions in range of motion. Electroacupuncture is the passing of electrical energy through acupuncture points. This is usually done by attaching an electronic device to acupuncture needles. The stimulation of points can be regulated and measured by adjusting the amplitude and frequency of the electrical current. Insertion of acupuncture needles in various acupuncture points related to the injury can help to stimulate the body to clear inflammation, release spasms, clear stagnated energy pathways, and aid in the restoration of range of motion. The added stimulation of an electric pulsed energy enhances the effect of acupuncture on the muscles and is able to penetrate further into the muscle tissue. When we deal with horses we’re dealing with a large amount of muscle and often it’s

difficult to palpate and influence the muscles beneath the exterior layer. Electroacupuncture is also useful in relaxing muscle tissues so that therapies such as chiropractic and osteopathy can be successful in restoring balance and range of motion to the muscular skeletal system and restore optimal spinal fluid flow. Laser acupuncture is another useful therapy for injuries. The two most common types of lasers are red light emitters with a wave length of 632 to 650nm and infrared light emitters with a wave length of 902nm. A myriad of research has been gathered to support and disclaim the use of lasers for a variety of uses including acupuncture. The truth is that it takes a great deal of study to use laser technology for all but the most rudimentary applications. Certain claims that laser beam penetration of up to 50mm in depth can be misleading. Penetration is technically defined as the depth into the tissues at which 67% of the incident energy is absorbed. The absorption characteristics of tissue are such that most of the energy is absorbed within the first few millimeters and any unabsorbed energy present at 50mm would consist of a few photons only. Also, as energy is absorbed by tissue the tissue gives off energy. This is either a heat or electrical

Florida Sporthorse Magazine 19

Debra Redmond

Electroacupuncture is done by attaching an electronic device to acupuncture needles. It is particularly useful in treating injuries caused by repetitive use.

energy known as the photovoltaic effect. The photovoltaic effect and heat energy produced are inversely proportional to wavelength. The result is dependent on how many photons of a certain energy level are absorbed per unit of time. It’s this photovoltaic effect that actually stimulates acupuncture points. The general effect of laser therapy is to increase circulation to the area and improve cell turnover


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20 Florida Sporthorse Magazine



The wonderful, messy, nerve-racking, blessed event

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Jean White Foals are wonderful! Foaling out mares… maybe not so much. The birth of new foals will happen whenever the mare thinks it is most inconvenient for us and the most convenient for her. The mare has a check list of events that should happen before giving birth. Bad weather, check. Sleep deprived owner, check. Vet at a convention, check. At least this is how is seems. So how do we know when the mare will foal? We have a check list of our own that can be pretty accurate because we know our mares and we know her past foaling history. Here are some things that we do that help us predict the birth of our foals…aka: adorable little time wasters.

Due Dates

We know the mare’s due date. We use 340 days from the last breeding day as our predicted foaling date. For the mathematically challenged (me!) just subtract 25 days from the day of the last breeding. We look at the mares past foaling history. For example, we have a mare that has had 6 foals all consistently two to three weeks early. Her first foal was quite a surprise since she never bagged up (had milk in her udder). So, with this mare we’ve learned to look for her to foal 14 to 21 days before her due date. We had another mare that never even looked uncomfortable as her due date came and went. Her 4 foals were all 2 to 3 weeks late. Knowing the mares past foaling history can helps us avoid “surprises” and narrow down our “on call” days

and nights. When we’ve had ET (Embryo Transfer) mares to foal out we try to get as much information from the previous foal manager as possible. For maiden mares (mares that are foaling for the first time) it is a crap shoot! This is when we may use one of the kits that help predict foaling by testing the mare’s udder secretions.

Body Changes

(Caution, some mares don’t read this part!) We look at each mare daily. We look at her body shape, the shape and feel of the area around her tail head, the shape of her privates, and the shape and feel of her udder. Doing daily body and boob checks helps us notice the changes in the mare’s body that occur before birth. It also gets the mare used to being handled in places that she might otherwise not appreciate. The body shape: The mare’s body shape usually changes before foaling. She will really balloon in the last three months prior to foaling. Many mares will, as they get closer to foaling, look like the foal is sitting with his little butt at the bottom of her belly and her belly may look slightly pointed. Usually during the last two weeks before foaling the mare’s sacroiliac ligaments relax and the muscles on each side of the tail head soften and sink and can cause the croup to look hollowed out. We press on the muscles around the tail head every day during the body and boob inspection to check for softening. Many mares will also have a more relaxed and elongated vulva as they approaching foaling. So, we include a peek under the mare’s tail in our daily body and boob check.

The udder: Usually a mare’s udder will start filling 3 to 4 weeks before foaling. At first the udder fills at night and goes down during the day. Be alert when the udder stays engorged. A couple of days before foaling they will often get “wax” on the tips of their nipples. It is called “wax” because that is sort of what it looks like (but does not feel like). It is just some colostrum that has leaked out and dried at the tip of the nipple. Once the mare’s udder stays filled we milk out a few drops during the daily boob check and check it for color and for stickiness. When our mares show a change in color (from clear/yellow to grey/white) and the milk gets sticky (dip your thumb and a finger in the drops of milk and see how much they stick together) then we will be checking on that mare more frequently during our foal watch. The Foal Watch: We have simple Radio Shack wireless video cameras in the stalls that we view on the TV. This allows the mare to get her rest at night without someone constantly peaking at her. It also allows us to get more sleep as we just have to open one eye (80% of mares foal between 10pm and 4am) and glance at the screen before either getting up to assist the birth or go back to sleep if nothing is happening. The Foaling Kit. Check with your vet for recommendations of what you might need. We have towels, foal blanket, Vet Wrap, scissors, mild liquid soap, paper towels, 2% Iodine, a small container to pour the iodine into for dipping the navel, KY jelly, string, Long sleeve exam glove, non-latex exam glove and Fleet enema.


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Our mare is now restless, getting up and down, and starting to sweat indicating that she is finally in labor. At least we hope she is getting down. (Occasionally a mare will not lie down. Walking around holding up a partially born foal with a mare that is giving birth standing up is not easy. This is also why we do not wear our good pajamas on foal watch! ) We have usually alerted the Vet in the evening if we think that we may have a foaling that night. We make sure that we work safely, gently, and

A Normal Foaling

quietly around the mare. We are always aware that the mare’s mood may not be friendly, so we are careful as we wrap the mare’s tail with vet wrap. We like to wrap up the whole tail with no hairs sticking out but sometimes the mare doesn’t give us time! Wrapping will keep the whole birth scene much cleaner and will saves huge amounts of tail cleanup. Some people will wash the mare’s privates at this time. We wash the mare’s privates and udder a week ahead of when we think they will foal and then do “touch ups” as needed. We don’t wash the udder too close to foaling as

Florida Sporthorse Magazine 21 we don’t want the udder to smell like anything else but the mare and milk. After the tail is wrapped then we just let the mare get on with her work… and work it is! When the mare’s water breaks we make a note of the time. We give the mare about 15 minutes in which time we want to be seeing some forelegs after the water breaks; otherwise we have sweaty palms and are talking to the vet. If you are there for the water breaking then you can’t miss it as it sounds like Niagara Falls.

This mare has foaled several times in the morning. Here the mare has wandered up to lay by the gate and give birth just minutes before the start of the yoga class that meets in the barn office. Most mares do not want an audience. This one is just different. The first thing you want to see is what we affectionately call the “blue bubble” which is the amnion sack that surrounds the foal. Seeing the blue bubble means things are moving along correctly. The next thing we want to see is a front foot whose hoof is pointing downward. As you can see in the picture the second foot is positioned back farther then the leading foot. This position makes it easier for the foal’s shoulders to pass. If we see just one foot, the hoof pointing up, or just hind feet then we are on the phone to the vet! It’s always a relief to see that nose lying at about knee level on top of the foals legs! If we have two legs and no head then we’re on the phone to the vet! Foaling is a messy job and as you can see I have on gloves. I’m supporting the foal’s head as the mare pushes in order to avoid the sand getting in the foals eyes and nose. I will clear the membranes away from the foal’s nostrils if the membranes have not already broken by this time and wipe the fluid from around the nostrils. As the foal takes its first breaths I take a few deep breaths myself! Once the shoulders are clear the rest of the foal slides out much easier! This is the time that a lot of mares will want to rest and take a breather. The foal’s hind legs are not quite out yet. The mare is softly nickering to her foal. (This is always a heart tugging moment!) It is the time to be quiet and let the mare rest and bond with the foal. Sometimes they will rest like this a while. During this time the foal is receiving additional blood from the placenta so we don’t even think about cutting the umbilical cord as we want it to break on its own. After some good rest and bonding between mare and foal, I begin rubbing the foal with a clean towel. This not only helps dry the foal but also helps with circulation.

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22 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Some attempts at standing just don’t work! Here the mare has gotten up and is nickering encouragement to her filly. We are looking for this filly to be standing on her own within an hour of birth. Meanwhile, the umbilical cord has broken and we have dipped the filly’s navel in the 2% iodine solution. The next hurdle is finding the milk machine! Here you can see the mare pushing the foal into the right position. (This is not this mare’s first rodeo). Most foals will nurse within one to three hours after birth. Longer than three hours results in a call to the vet. You can just see the placenta behind the mare’s right hind. You can tie up the placenta to keep it out of the way and from being stepped on. It is a slippery and messy thing and is best tied hock high with strips of cloth. Remember not to pull on the placenta as this can cause damage to the mare. We are delighted when we see normal pooping and peeing! (Yes, we know we should get out more). Some foals will get constipated and need an enema but this one is doing just fine! The mare has yet to pass the placenta. Most mares will pass the placenta within one to three hours after birth. Longer than three hours means a call to the vet. (Yes, by this time you realize that we have the vet on speed dial). The placenta can be full of good information so we save the placenta in a bucket of cold water for the vet to examine when they come to do the foal check. At about 3 days old the filly “unfolds” and we begin to see her conformation. And, we begin to waste time each morning watching her play. At three months of age we have the filly leading, standing tied next to mom and being groomed, loading in the horse trailer with mom, and learning her future career! Foals are wonderful!

All photos oourtesy of Jean White

Florida Sporthorse Magazine 23

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Electro- and laser acupunture useful in treating injuries

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and both types of laser can produce this effect. For acupuncture points to be stimulated using a laser the unit needs to allow for the optimal setting in treatment, time of exposure and intensity of energy and frequency. Clinical research on laser use indicates increased tissue granulation, collagen synthesis, and vascularization, increased production of T and B lymphocytes, inhibition of prostaglandin effects on tissue (e.g., pain, inflammation, and vasoconstriction) and release of endorphins. The advantages of laser treatment are that it is noninvasive and aseptic. Its use is painless and it requires minimal cooperation or restraint of the animal. For those practitioners willing to master the technology and its use as well as making the financial investment necessary, laser therapy provides ample benefits for animals leery of being caused any further discomfort due to their injury. Although modern technology and the collective efforts of centuries of healing practices have given horse owners many options to assist their horse’s rehabilitation, it’s important to remember that it is far easier to maintain health than to restore it. Take a moment to note anything unusual in your horse’s behavior or way of going and jot it down on a calendar or notebook even if it’s minor. Every horse and human can have an off day, but if a pattern develops, talk with your veterinarian and your acupuncturist to design a program to assist your horse’s healing.

24 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

What’s Cookin’?

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Cooked grains yield greater nutritional benefits


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Nerida Richards


hile a lot of time is spent focused on horses that can’t eat grain in their diet, cereal grains such as oats, barley, triticale, corn, rice, rye, sorghum and wheat form a valuable component of many horse’s rations. Selecting the most digestible grain based feed however can be confusing, with uncooked grains like whole, cracked and crushed grains being available as well as cooked grains like extruded, micronized, steam rolled or steam flaked and pelleted grains. Question is, which form is best for your horse, the cooked or uncooked grains?

Why do we cook grains?

Grains are fed primarily as a source of energy in a horse’s diet and that energy is derived mainly from the white starch found in the center of the grain. For the horse to obtain the energy from the starch it must be digested by enzymes in the small intestine.But digesting the starch to extract the energy is not easy for the horse because it is ‘packaged’ within the grain in a way that makes it difficult for the horse to get to. The reason grains are cooked is to make access to the starch a lot easier for the horse.

How is starch ‘packaged’

Starch is simply many glucose molecules all bonded together and ‘bundled up’ into starch granules. These starch granules are then embedded amongst protein in a structure known as the protein matrix (Figure 1). The starch granules, embedded in the protein, are then encased within individual ‘endosperm’ cells and protected by a cell wall. Many of these cells are packed tightly within the grains ‘starchy

endosperm’ (the white bit found in the middle of a grain). And the endosperm itself is protected by the aleurone layer and finally the entire structure is covered by the seed coat (Figure 2). Now from the plant’s perspective, all of this packaging is absolutely critical for its survival and is designed to protect the plant embryo and its stored sources of energy and protein to ensure it will be able to grow and survive for the first few days following germination. So, the packaging is clever and essential from the plants perspective; however for the horse, all of this packaging is just a nuisance and prevents the horse from being able to digest and extract the energy from the grain. In fact, this packaging was actually specifically designed to allow a grain to pass through the gastrointestinal tract of an animal undamaged so it may germinate when it is excreted in the manure.

How does this ‘packaging’ stop starch digestion?

The packaging can be likened to a security system at a casino which prevents the thieves (or in this case the enzymes) from stealing the cash (the starch). To digest the starch the enzymes in the horse’s small intestine must first breech the seed coat, then penetrate the aleurone layer. Following this they need to be able to make their way through the endosperm cell walls (these are the cells that contain the starch), then burrow through the sometimes impenetrable vault of the protein matrix before finally reaching the starch granule. Then, in a cruel twist of fate, if the enzyme reaches this far, it will find that the starch is bundled so tightly into a ball that the enzymes cannot digest it. So the horse is presented with a difficult hurdle – just how does it go about extracting the energy held in the starch

of cereal grains?

Enter cooked grains...

It has been recognised for many years now that to effectively digest cereal grains, horses need some help, and that help comes in the form of ‘cooking’.’ Cooking grains using processes like extrusion, micronising and steam flaking breaks down the barriers the enzymes have to face in reaching and digesting cereal grain starch.

How does cooking help?

When grains are cooked using a combination of heat, moisture, pressure and some form of physical process like rolling or grinding, the entire structure of the grain is disrupted. To start, the seed coat and aleurone layer are broken and the endosperm cell walls are opened up. In addition, the structure of the protein matrix is physically disrupted so it is no longer able to protect the starch granules. Cooking also turns the ordered and tightly packed structure of the starch granule into an open and vulnerable structure which can be easily attacked by enzymes in a process known as gelatinisation. Cooking simply gives the horse’s enzymes access to the grain starch so they can go about their work of cutting up the starch into single glucose molecules, which the horse then absorbs from the small intestine into the body, where it is used for energy.

What about cracked grains?

Simply cracking, crushing or grinding grains is the same process as chewing and aims only to change the physical structure of the grain, breaking the seed coat and reducing the grains particle size to give the enzymes better access to the starch within the centre of the grain. While the seed coat and aleurone layer barriers are removed, physical processing only causes minor damage to the endosperm cell walls and leaves a majority of

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the protein matrix and starch granule structure intact, meaning only small improvements to starch digestion will be made. Work conducted in horses showed that cracking corn only improved its digestibility in the small intestine of the horse by 1 percent. So while physical processing can get an enzyme through the front doors of the casino, gives them access to some of the cash floating around at the tables, and maybe even gets them into the strong room, it leaves the enzymes without a key, security code or set of explosives to get it into the vault. In short, they aren’t much better than whole grains.

starch. If the horse can’t digest this starch, then you are better off not feeding the grain at all. Nerida Richards, PhD, is co-founder of FeedXL. She is an equine nutrition specialist with a degree in Rural Science, a doctorate degree in equine nutrition

Does soaking grains help?

Soaking grains simply makes them much easier to chew, so soaking will help the horse to break the seed coat and aleurone layer barriers. However soaking does nothing to disrupt the endosperm cell wall, protein matrix or starch granule structure, so, like cracking grains, soaking does not help to improve starch digestion.

Figure 1: A scanning electron micrograph of the middle of a barley grain showing the starch granules embedded within the protein matrix. The starch granules are the large round objects.


What happens if cereal grains are fed without being cooked?

Starch from grains fed whole or cracked will remain largely undigested as it passes through the smallintestine and will eventually be delivered to the hindgut. This is where the trouble begins. The bacteria in the hindgut do not face the same barriers as the enzymes in the small intestine, and they are able to reach and rapidly ferment the starch contained in uncooked grains. This rapid fermentation of starch causes excessive production of acids, which accumulate in the hindgut and lower the hindgut pH (the hindgut contents become acidic). Low pH in the horse’s hindgut causes a multitude of diseases and behavioural disturbances including laminitis, colic, endotoxaemia, systemic acidosis, reduced fibre fermentation, poor appetite, wood chewing and the eating of bedding as well as deficiencies in the B group vitamins (including biotin) and vitamin K.

What about oats?

The general consensus is that oats can be fed unprocessed. As it is a larger grain, horses are capable of chewing the grain enough to break its seed coat, removing the need for physical processing. Studies have also found that oat starch is far easier to digest than corn or barley starch in an uncooked form. So oats can be fed whole and uncooked. However, whether oats can be fed unprocessed needs to be decided on a horse by horse basis. Observe your horse’s manure closely when you are feeding him oats. If you observe whole oat grains in his manure, whole oats is not a suitable feed for this horse. It is important to make sure the oats you are observing in the manure are whole and not just undigested hulls. Do this by taking them from the manure and squeezing them. If they are whole you will observe the white starch oozing from the centre. If you want to feed oats specifically, but your horse doesn’t digest them well, cracked, steam rolled and micronised oats can be purchased.

And the Moral of the Story?

Don’t feed cereal grains unless they have been cooked, with the exception of oats for some horses. If you feed whole, uncooked cereal grains, your horse will get little benefit from them and they have a good chance of causing disease and behavioural problems. Remember, the reason you feed cereal grains is to provide your horse with a source of energy. Most of this energy is held within the grains


Aleurone Layer

Endosperm cells

Figure 2: The location of starch granules (stained black) within the endosperm cells of barley grain surrounded by the protein matrix (stained green) and protected by the aleurone layer and seed coat.

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26 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Common Ground

Fostering the farrier/veterinarian relationship Ruth-Anne Richter


quine sports medicine has become a burgeoning field with many veterinary practitioners now spending more time focusing on this area. The availability of more advanced and more portable imaging technology has helped to elevate this field into a specialty. As this field evolves, it has become apparent that a team approach is necessary in the maintenance of the equine athlete. This team approach becomes doubly important when dealing with performance-related injury. The ‘horse management team’ should include the owner, +/- trainer, veterinarian and importantly, the farrier. To achieve the desired outcome, and to function as a unit, there needs to be open and free communication between the team members. Trying to co-coordinate schedules in a timely manner can sometimes prove to be difficult; however, to best serve the horse and to increase the probability of a positive result, a little effort by all parties really does go a long way. A number of performance-related injuries can be helped with therapeutic shoeing to provide support and to distract negative forces on the injured leg. However, this can become a common cause for frustration and miscommunication when the veterinarian relies on the client to relay prescription shoeing information to the farrier for a specified problem. This sometimes leads to misinterpretation, the desired goal is not achieved, and the horse does not improve. The owner then becomes discouraged and either changes farriers or the veterinarian. To reduce the potential for resentment, direct discussion of the case between the veterinarian and the farrier not only helps to achieve the desired outcome, but also often reveals a lot of valuable information to both parties that may help in diagnosing and rehabilitating the horse. The ability to email digital radiographs has proven to be extremely useful to the farrier when a specific shoeing request has been made by the veterinarian, and even for routine cases. Our practice (Surgi-Care Center for Horses), has adopted the philosophy of ‘giving back’ to the referring veterinarian and has, for a number of years, presented quarterly Grand Rounds at which cases and timely topics are shared that may benefit their practices. In 2008, Surgi-Care held the first Grand Rounds meeting that also included farriers with whom they (the referring DVMs) have worked on foot-related problems. This event proved to be successful, and produced positive feedback as well as some constructive criticism. Following this, and taking some of the comments into account, another event the following year was put on for the local farriers specifically, with veterinarians invited to attend if they were

far a c un pro

Ruth Anne Richter

Above and right: Surgicare hosts a variety of events at their Bloomingdale facility designed to foster positive working relationships between veterinarians and farriers.

interested. This particular event involved the use of the ONTRACK gait analysis software and followed one horse through a series of trimming and shoeing cycles. The event was well attended by both farriers and equine veterinarians. A lot was learned from the project horse, and the use of the gait analysis software highlighted its problems, which gave the attendees a good appreciation for what actually happens to the foot (and leg) as it goes through the arc of flight and the stance phase. Using the software program, a second horse was evaluated when shod with different shoe types. It was this horse that opened our eyes to a number of things including the fact that one farrier’s interpretation of a shoeing “prescription” might not be the same as another’s. The “shoe”, while it was descriptively ‘correct’, was an exaggerated version of a ‘prescription’ shoe. It markedly changed the horse’s way of going when viewed in slow motion, and not in a good way. This particular horse, and that one shoeing interpretation emphasized the need for more direct communication between the veterinarian and the farrier. Veterinarians and farriers come from diverse backgrounds, not only in education, but also with levels of experience. This brings diversity in opinions; some based on experience, some on preconception, some from the literature and some from what has been taught in school. Many more recent graduate veterinarians have not had extensive equine experience, and most receive little exposure to equine podiatry at veterinary school. This leaves them making requests of a farrier who may have years of horse experience when they (the DVM) may not

understand some of the concepts of trimming and shoeing, the physiology or function of the feet, nor have they had this exposure gained from many years of practice. Importantly, and what came out of the 2009 farrier meeting was that we don’t all speak the same language when it comes to feet and shoeing. How do we rectify some of these problems? These concerns spawned the idea of having an informal evening at our practice where local farriers and veterinarians can come to spend time every month with an experienced farrier(s). The first evening was lead entirely by the farrier; the basics were covered for the veterinarians in the group as well as some apprentice and younger farriers that were attending. The most important of which was describing balance, and the correct placement of a shoe. While the term balance is open to interpretation, the basis of a balanced and well-trimmed foot prior to shoe placement cannot be disputed and was agreed upon by all the farriers attending. This concept was presented to the veterinarians in a way that was easy to understand, and was done as the horse was trimmed so that it could be seen first hand. These evening events have been designed to provide a friendly and open forum for an exchange of ideas between the veterinarian and the farrier. Formats range from having wet labs, demonstrations, lectures and informal discussions. Participating farriers and veterinarians alike are also encouraged to present cases that they have been working on, or ask questions about a case or cases that pose particular problems to them. These evenings also expose both the veterinarian and the

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Florida Sporthorse Magazine 27

Ruth Anne Richter

farrier to alternative techniques in an effort to create a common ground in language, techniques and understanding. But, most importantly, they have promoted the development of mutual respect. The use of the ONTRACK software at our practice has proven to be a tool that does help to “open” that door to discussion of a particular case with the farrier as well as the horse owner +/- trainer. Using a team approach and using a

tool such as this can only benefit the horse in the long run. The beauty of this equipment is that the farrier can access the study off site if he or she is unable to be at the clinic at the same time the horse is examined. Great opportunities to foster the veterinarianfarrier relationship come from larger meetings when professionals from all over the country can exchange ideas and discuss topics. Conferences

such as those hosted by the Florida Association of Equine Practitioners in Orlando are invaluable at keeping the lines of communication open between veterinarians and farriers. These expose both parties to new techniques, provide updated information on timely topics, as well as providing a good review of the basics. At the most recent symposium a recurring theme amongst the speakers was the importance of communication between the veterinarian and the farrier. As with anything, change often takes small steps; we can affect change by starting small and building upon solid groundwork. While all veterinarians and farriers alike do not have the perfect answer to a specific problem, hearing each other out may reveal that while a slightly different language is being spoken, the goal is going to be the same - to do the best thing for the horse. Supporting clinical findings and recommendations with images such as radiographs and ultrasound, or video of the horse, go a long way in helping the farrier to achieve the desired shoeing result. The key to a successful ‘horse management team’ that ultimately benefits the horse is to develop an open working relationship that is founded on mutual respect and trust. Surgi-Care Center for Horses hosts their FarrierVeterinarian Happy Hour every third Thursday of the month at 6 pm. The annual farrier-veterinarian meeting and wet lab is on Saturday April 21st 2012. For more information about the farrierveterinarian events, please visit the Surgi-Care website at www.Surgi-Carecenter.com or email Dr. Richter at rrichter@surgi-carecenter.com



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30 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Aging equines Tips for caring for older horses

Advances in equine nutrition and health care have resulted in horses living into their 20s and 30s. The American Association of Equine Practioners suggests tips for ensuring that a horse’s senior years are healthy and happy.

American Assoc. of Equine Practitioners Because of advances in nutrition, management and health care, horses are living longer, more useful lives. It’s not uncommon to find horses and ponies living well into their 20s and 30s. While genetics play a role in determining life span, you too, can have an impact. You may think that turning your old-timer out to pasture is the kindest form of retirement. But horses are individuals. Some enjoy being idle; others prefer to be a part of the action. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the horse. Proper nutrition, care and exercise will help the animal thrive. Follow these guidelines from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) to develop a total management plan for your older horse: 1. Observe your horse on a regular basis. Watch for changes in body condition, behavior and attitude. Address problems, even seemingly minor ones, right away. 2. Feed a high quality diet. Avoid dusty and moldy feeds. 3. Feed your older horse away from younger, more aggressive ones so it won’t have to compete for feed. 4. Feed at more frequent intervals so as not to upset the digestive system. Two to three times daily is best. 5. Provide plenty of fresh, clean, tepid water. Excessively cold water reduces consumption, which can lead to colic and other problems. 6. Adjust and balance rations to maintain proper body conditions. A good rule of thumb is to be able to feel the ribs but not see them. 7. Provide adequate, appropriate exercise to maintain muscle tone, flexibility and mobility. 8. Groom your horse frequently to promote circulation and skin health. 9. Be aware that older horses are prone to tumors. Look for any unusual lumps or growths from head to tail as well as beneath the tail (especially on gray horses). 10. Schedule routine checkups with your equine veterinarian. Call immediately if you suspect a problem. A quick response to ailments, injuries or a decline in fitness can keep your older horse from having a serious or prolonged setback. That means less worry for you and a better quality of life for your old friend. For more information about caring for the older horse, ask your equine veterinarian for the “Older Horse” brochure, provided by the AAEP in partnership with Educational Partners Bayer HealthCare Animal Health and Purina Mills. Visit the AAEP’s horse health Web site, www. aaep.org/horseowner, for additional information about caring for the older horse.

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32 Florida Sporthorse Magazine


Fit & Flexible

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Stretching exercises aid overall fitness Lynn Palm In this series of articles, I am sharing some simple stretching and flexibility exercises to help with a rider’s relaxation, proper form, and balance in order for the rider to be a better partner with an equine. To do any of these exercises, you will need a consistent, well-schooled horse that is tacked up with saddle, bridle and leg protection. Practice in a large, enclosed area like a paddock, corral, or arena to give you and your horse more security. As with all physical activity, if you experience any pain or have medical conditions that could be complicated by doing any of these exercises, stop! Seek advice from a health care professional before continuing. All of these exercises should be done very slowly. Be sure to breathe when you are doing them. This is important because it encourages relaxation. If you find yourself holding your breath, try talking or singing to encourage


Avoid the common error of letting your lower leg swing forward. Hold the stretch with your hand on the dock for a few seconds and then release. Do a few repetitions on this side, and then do the stretch with the other hand.

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Over the Neck Exercises for Hip Joint Flexibility Flexibility in the rider’s hip area is critical to be able to follow the horse’s movements. The next set of exercises will improve hip flexibility and build the rider’s confidence and balance. These exercises are best done while mounted and standing still. Exercises in this set require the rider to bring his/her legs up and over the horse’s neck and shoulders with no rein contact. Therefore, it is important to be mounted on a very quiet horse that will not become alarmed or worried. Even the most laid back horse may be a little startled to see his

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regular breathing. Think “center-square-balanced” while you are doing the exercises, and continually analyze your position using these three key words.

Lower Back and Stomach Exercise Poll to Dock Stretch This exercise stretches both the lower back and stomach, and it can be done at either the walk or the trot. Hold the reins in your left hand. While you look straight ahead, very slowly stretch your right arm forward. Reach your right hand toward the horse’s poll. You may not be able to actually touch his poll, but try to reach as far up his neck as you can. This will give your lower back a nice stretch, and it should feel good. Hold the stretch by keeping your hand on his poll or neck for a few seconds. Stay centered in the saddle, and do not let your lower leg swing backwards as you stretch. Now release the forward stretch and bring the right hand back behind you, trying to touch the top of your horse’s tail or dock. This stretches the stomach muscles. Keep looking forward. Stay centered in the saddle and do not twist your body as you reach backwards.

rider’s legs in an unusual position. Take a moment to show your horse he has nothing to fear by “sacking” him out with your legs. Holding the pommel with both hands, lean back slightly and rub one foot and leg on the side of his neck, and then repeat the sacking out process with the other leg. When he shows acceptance, you are ready to start these exercises. Ask a helper to hold the horse if you have any doubts about his steadiness. Tie a knot in the reins. Put yourself in the starting position by grasping the saddle’s pommel with both hands and “scooting” your hips a little more forward in the saddle. This position allows more hip flexibility. Take your feet out of the stirrups, but let your legs hang in the proper riding position beneath you. Knee Touches With both hands behind you, grasp the cantle, keeping the elbows slightly bent. Bring your upper body back slightly as you lift both knees up at the same time. Touch the knees together over the horse’s withers or the saddle horn and slowly bring them back to the starting position. Slightly rocking your upper body back as you do this exercise makes the hip joint more

flexible. Be careful not to kick your Florida Sporthorse Magazine 33 horse! This is a challenging exercise that with your left hand for stability. also builds leg and abdominal muscle The leg should be held up and strength. If you can only bring the above the horse’s neck and shoulder knees up part way, it is okay. Keep by several inches. Bring the leg back practicing a little at a time until you over the horse’s neck and return it can touch them together. to normal riding position. Alternate legs. For the greatest benefit, do the Foot Touches exercise very slowly. This is a variation of the Do not kick your horse in the neck “knee touches.” While grasping the or allow your leg to drag across his cantle with both hands behind you, neck or drape down on his shoulder. bring both legs up at the same time The keys to doing all of these and touch the feet together over the exercises are: horse’s neck. This exercise improves 1. stay centered in the saddle, flexibility and requires greater 2. remain balanced balance. Keep looking straight ahead, 3. do not look down. and stay centered! Between exercises, take a break and let your muscles relax before Leg-Over-the-Shoulder starting again. Do not forget to Stretch breathe! My book, Head to Toe This exercise helps develop leg Horsemanship, has many of these and inner thigh muscles as well as exercises as does the first part of, balance. Start with the legs in normal “Respecting the Rider’s Form,” my riding position with feet out of the five-part visual series, available in stirrups. VHS and DVD, Dressage Principles With the knee slightly bent, bring for the Western and English Horse the right leg above the neck with the and Rider. foot extended towards the horse’s These products are available head. Then bend the knee and extend along with other Palm Partnership the lower leg and foot across the Training™ resources by logging on to horse’s neck and down towards his www.lynnpalm.com or calling 800left shoulder as you grasp the cantle 503-2824.

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34 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Get it straight!

Straighten your horse by straightening yourself

Bryony Anderson


hose readers familiar with the Dressage Training Pyramid are well aware of the importance of straightness, but it is just as important in other disciplines and at all levels of riding. True straightness assures that the horse is using his body correctly, thereby improving over-all performance and decreasing incidence of pain and injury. “Straightness” doesn’t necessarily mean that the horse is traveling in a straight line. Instead, it refers to the alignment of the horse’s bodyspecifically, the relationship between the poll, shoulders, and hips. To quote Betsy Steiner: “When a horse is traveling straight- whether on a straight line or a curved line- the line of travel bisects his spine and the muscles of his back and neck, and his muscles are stretched in a complementary way over the structure of his body.” When the horse is trained in such a way as to develop his musculature equally on both sides of his body, the strain on the muscles is much less than when one side of the body is doing most of the work. The horse is then able to perform the movements asked of him with greater ease, and will be less likely to incur injury or early breakdown. Though the concept of straightness seems pretty simple, actually achieving it can be challenging. Our horses’ bodies, like our own, have tensions, weaknesses, one-sided preferences, etc., which make it difficult to be truly straight. It is up to us, as their “personal trainers”, to help them develop themselves symmetrically rather than reinforcing these imbalances or creating new ones. As riders, we are the “lead partner in the dance”, and it is our responsibility to use our own bodies symmetrically; in doing so, we make it easier for the horse to achieve straightness. In our riding partnership, our bodies are our means of communication with the horse. Unfortunately, our bodies often send mixed signals to the horse without our even realizing it. You have probably heard the saying “Do as I say, not as I do”. Well, in the horse-rider partnership, we humans can tend to be like the parent who smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day while telling their kids not to smoke. Horses, like children, will mirror what we embody. In my experience, horses may not always do what we want them to, but they almost always do what our bodies are signaling them to do. So, it is important that we learn to do in our bodies what we want our horses to do in theirs. Good riding, then, becomes less about what to do TO the horse and more about what to do IN our selves. I remember riding my own very sensitive horse one day and having difficulty keeping him straighthe kept popping his left shoulder out and bending his ribs. My leg and rein aids were not delivering results equal to the amount of effort I was putting into it, and more effort just made things worse and caused us both frustration. Finally, a little voice in my head said, “Straighten out your own body!” As I took my focus off my horse and checked


in with myself, I realized that my own left shoulder was slightly forward and my ribcage had collapsed somewhat to one side; the misalignment was subtle, such that an on-looker probably wouldn’t have even noticed it, but my horse definitely noticed. He was simply mirroring what was happening in my body. As I straightened my own body, my horse immediately and effortlessly straightened too. Each time he would pop that left shoulder

Though the concept of straightness seems pretty simple, actually achieving it can be challenging. Our horses’ bodies, like our own, have tensions, weaknesses, one-sided preferences, etc., which make it difficult to be truly straight. again, I would make the little inner adjustment to my body instead of fussing at him, and he would again straighten. It was amazing to realize how easy it could be to get the results I wanted from my horse while simultaneously building the bridge of communication and partnership with him. Most humans are not symmetrical; we have

“default postures” of misalignment that are more exaggerated at some times than others. Stress, dehydration, lack of rest, fatigue, and poor nutrition can all contribute to making these asymmetries more pronounced. You may find at such times that riding is more challenging; though you think that your horse is the problem, what you are really struggling with is your own body. In riding circles and turns, you may find that you have an easier time going to one direction than the other. Because the horse’s shoulders and hips will mirror those of the rider, if your default position is a slight bend or twist to one direction, your horse will turn more easily that way; you will need to work harder at turning yourself the other direction in order to get your horse to do the same. Good riding means accurate riding, and that requires having control of our bodies even on the level of subtle micro-movements. In order to do so, we need to gain awareness of our bodies and our habitual postural patterns; when we know where we are to begin with, we can figure out what adjustments need to be made to get us where we want to be. It is this awareness and accuracy that yoga offers us, and practicing even just a few postures several times a week can do a lot to improve your riding. The following poses focus specifically on developing body symmetry and straightness. Try them yourself and see if your horse notices the difference in you!


Practice In this short yoga practice, props such as a wall, chair, and floor are used to give you a reference point for greater awareness of your body alignment and asymmetries. Perform each pose 3 times to each side.




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1. Standing Side Bends at Wall- Stand with your back against a wall, your feet hips width apart. Let your shoulders and hips contact the wall equally from left to right. With an inhalation, raise the arms overhead. As you exhale, bend to one side, keeping both hips and both shoulders on the wall. Hold for 10 seconds, and then go to the other side. 2. Flank Stretch- With your back to the wall, step your feet wide apart. Turn both feet to the right, so that your right foot is parallel to the wall and about 2� from it. Your right hip should touch the wall. Bend your right knee. Extend your arms to the sides, keeping both shoulders on the wall as you pivot your upper body to lay your torso over your right thigh. Hold for 10 seconds, and then repeat to the left. 3. Supine Twists- Lay on the floor and bring your right knee to your chest. Extend your right arm out to the side; with your left hand, guide your bent knee across your body to the left, coming into a twist. Hold for 10 seconds, and then repeat to the other side. 4. Chair Twists- Sit on the edge of a chair so that your feet can rest flat on the floor and you can feel your seat bones on the chair. Keep your knees and feet together. Keeping your seat and lower body stationary, twist your torso to the left, placing your right hand on your left thigh, your left hand on the chair back. (Look at your knees and make sure they have stayed together. If one knee is forward of the other, you have allowed that seat bone to slide forward; slide it back and keep your knees parallel.) Hold 10 seconds, and then repeat to other side.

Florida Sporthorse Magazine

36 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Shoulders back!

Proper posture results in correct alignment for horse and rider Debbie Rodriguez with Natalie DeFee Mendik



houlders back is a refrain that spans the disciplines. Just about every rider has at some point been instructed to correct the shoulders.

There are several possible reasons for less than ideal upper-body posture. A past injury may have left you with pain or scar tissue that affects your position. You may have a job with repetitive motion that strongly develops one side and one range of motion (think stall cleaning). Sitting at a desk or driving the kids around all day may just leave you inactive much of the time. Regardless of the reason for poor posture, correct shoulders are one more key element to riding at your best. Shoulders should be level and open. This correct posture not only looks great, but it also serves a functional element by allowing the rider to stay supple in the elbows and wrist for a soft, independent connection with the reins. Part of correct alignment on the horse includes keeping the neck in alignment. For dressage and western riders, the ears should be over the shoulders. For hunter, jumper and eventer riders, proper neck alignment allows for the ever important ‘eyes up.’ Slouching is known in technical jargon as upper cross syndrome. As the pectorals on the front of the chest tighten, the muscles across the upper back become weaker. The shoulders are drawn down and forward. The correction for this includes work from all angles, which increases mobility and range of motion while strengthening the muscles across the back and shoulders to maintain the position. In the saddle, warming up with shoulder and neck exercises not only opens your shoulders, but also gets the kinks out and releases some of the tension many of us hold in our shoulders. These exercises are simple and take just a few minutes. You may have done these on the lunge line, but if your horse is reliable and there are no spooky distractions around, go ahead and try them while your horse walks around the arena.

Single Arm Circles: With one hand holding the reins, rotate arm in a backwards circle, using full range of motion.


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Double Arm Circles: For riders on a trustworthy mount, both arms can be worked simultaneously. This exercise opens the chest while bringing the shoulder blades down and back. Be sure to engage your core and stretch tall.

Overhead Press: Standing with feet shoulder-width apart and a light weight in each hand, start with your elbows bent and parallel to your shoulders. Raise weights overhead in a smooth, controlled movement. Return to shoulder height. Repeat.


Shoulder Retraction: Upright Row Standing with your feet slightly apart, bent forward at 45ยบ angle at the hips and and knees softly bent, let arms hang with weights directly beneath the shoulders. Lift arms by raising elbows up and back, retracting shoulder blades together. Return arms to original position and repeat.

SUCCESS IN THE SADDLE Complete Core Fitness for the Equestrian


Head Rolls: Start your head roll by dropping your chin to your chest. Roll your head sideways with your ear toward your shoulder, back, toward the opposite shoulder and again to your chest. Repeat and then reverse direction.

Improve your

Complete Core Fitness for the Equestrian Improve your



SUCCESS-Flexibility IN THE SADDLE Complete Core Fitness-Balance for the Equestrian

-Flexibility -Balance -Stamina

Be a better rider no matter what discipline!

-Stamina Improve your rider no matter what discipline! Be a better

Six workouts. Just 20 minutes each. No equipm NO EXCUSES!! WWW.SUCCESSINTHESADDLE.COM


-Flexibility Six workouts. Just 20 minutes each. No equipment. -Balance NO EXCUSES!! -Stamina WWW.SUCCESSINTHESADDLE.COM

Be a better rider no matter what discipline!

Six workouts. Just 20 minutes each. No equipment. All photos by Patricia Worth, WO Equine Marketing


38 Florida Sporthorse Magazine


Tampa rider makes bid for Maclay Finals

Savanna Peterson

Qualifying for the ASPCA Alfred B. Maclay Finals, something that’s considered a long shot, a dream, and a goal for many young and aspiring equitation riders. Caroline Carr, who rides with Kingsmeade farms in Tampa, has defied the odds and made the dream she has worked on for two years come true. Carr, who has been riding for ten years, has had an impressive riding career with a résumé that includes making it to Medal Finals twice and Maclay Finals once. The Maclay Finals are considered the biggest junior equestrian competition of the year, and horses that have won this prestigious title can sell for six figures. To qualify for the Maclay riders must make it to regional/zone championships. From there there qualify for the finals. For regionals a rider must earn a minimum of 38 points in an A-AAA (Central Florida, Tampa Equestrian Festival, HITS Ocala, etc.) show in a Maclay event. The Maclay Regionals were held in Jacksonville in 2011 and 38 people competed. Leading up to the Maclay Carr had a very rigorous training schedule with her 10-year-old Holsteiner, Andricus (Andy for short). “The most difficult thing about the road to the Maclay was finding the right horse and getting qualified. I’ve had awesome horses but something always seemed to go wrong, but I got really lucky with Andy,” said Carr. Andy is owned by Carr’s best friend who agreed to lease him when Carr needed a horse. The duo have been together since May. “Andy was the perfect fit; he’s such a good boy, and he always tries so hard,” said Carr. Carr has been trying to make it to the Maclay for two years and leading up to the event the training schedule was intensive. “My trainer would set up some of the hardest courses for me to do, and we would practice so hard every day. On days when we wouldn’t jump, we would have long flat lessons without my stirrups. It made me so strong.” Though the Maclay Finals was filled with stress and tension with everyone on edge waiting to ride, Carr would sit, listen to music and try to not get her nerves in a bundle. At the finals, Carr would do flat work in the morning, jumping a short while later and flat work later at night. The hard work paid off when Carr finished 17th in regionals. Carr also says she owes many of her accomplishments to her parents and trainers. She got interested in 3’6 equitation as a freshman in high school due to her trainer Logan Fiorentino (who moved to train at The University of Georgia). From there she left to ride with Don Stewart. “He helped me so much and I appreciate everything that he has done for me, from finding me awesome horses to just being an amazing trainer” said Carr.

Caroline Carr aboard Andricus, her mount for the Maclay Finals in 2011. Photo courtesy of Caroline Carr.

After working with Stewart, she moved to ride, competing in Hunters and Jumpers. Kingsmeade where she has been for two and a half years riding with Claire Kellner. “She has helped me so much. She has molded me into the rider that I am today, and I owe her everything, I am so happy with what she has helped me accomplish.” Carr is also highly appreciative of her family. “My parents have been so supportive throughout my riding In- ground Aquatred career. My mom has come to almost every Swimming Pool horse show and has gone out of her way to get me In- ground Cold Saltwater Spa where I am today.” She too, credits Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy her father being very Pegasus Laser Therapy and more cheerful and the best show dad. “I am very lucky to have the people that I have in my life.” 15500 Hwy. 326, Ocala, FL 32668 Alhough her teen equestrian career may be over, Carr plans to Kesmarcflorida.com attend the University of Tampa and major in 352-528-0583 Elementary Education while she continues to