Make Contact V ol . 3, N o .3
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14 Blue Centaur
4 Editor’s Note The feminine mystique: A case for mares
6 Staying in Contact Improve consistent communication
15 Under their Skin Tips for preventing and treating rain rot
8 Practical Craftsmanship Sturdy, beautiful tack carts
16 Heat of the Moment As summer approaches, add electrolytes
10 All in the Family The Hamiltons are a mother/daughter force in driving
18 Hand to Mouth Regular dental exams essential for equines
12 Solving the Supplement Puzzle What needs to be added to feeds
20 Position to Execution Ashley Leith reviews the USEA’s Instructor Symposium
14 The Blink of the Eye Iris scan technology makes identification nearly foolproof
20 Amanda Lloyd
22 Fitness Matters Better riding begins with better fitness
“A horse is the projection of peoples’ dreams about themselves--strong, powerful, beautiful--and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.” ~Pam Brown
4 Inside Florida Sporthorse
Karen Kennedy/Icon Studios
lady in my yoga class recently began a quest for a horse to lease—something quiet and well-trained to ride on trails. Last week, she told me about her latest find, a lovely paint, but she sounded hesitant. “Sounds perfect,” I said. “What’s wrong?” She sighed. “It’s a mare.” Moody, hormonal, opinionated and unpredictable, mares often deserve this stigma. My own mare comes with her own diva-like demands. She likes to be asked, not told. She’s sensitive to sudden shifts in climate and setting. She claims every foal (and most ponies) as her offspring, and when she’s in season, she
The feminine mystique becomes defensive about dinner and increasingly reactive to, well, just about everything. I get it. I am also an emotional creature, subject to inexplicable shifts in mood, uncharacteristic neediness, overly dramatic reactions and an occasional desire to eat an entire sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints in one sitting. There is nothing quite like a sensible, tried and true gelding, but the older I get, the more I appreciate mares. Growing up, I always had more male friends than female, a fact I attributed to having three older brothers and not being a girlie-girl shopping and nail salon kind of chick. Even in college, I shunned sorority row in favor of pizza and beer nights with the brothers of Delta Tau Delta. I’ve had—and still have—wonderful male friends, but as I’ve matured, it’s the female friends I cherish most. Whether my heart has been ripped out, I’m struggling with a major career crisis, or I’ve just experienced the joy of achievement, it’s the women in my life who hold my hand, offer counsel, dust me off, help me up and cheer me on. In turn, I’ve bonded with
Frankie, my wonderful but difficult, equine companion in a way that I never did with my geldings. Although our training battles can push me to the point of exhaustion, we eventually reach those harmonious moments that blur the line between athleticism and art. Her sensitivity to my energy has taught me the importance of casting off my day and bringing my whole self to her. In the show ring, she has never quit; in fact, she often taps into something extra—a dancer under the spotlight on the big stage. It’s that extra bit of brilliance that makes extraordinary mares so memorable; at the big dance, we always counted on them to deliver the grand performance. In racing: Zenyatta. In show jumping: Sapphire. In dressage: Brentina. Though science may attribute such magnificence to surges in hormones, those of us who have patiently formed partnerships with mares know better. As Nathaniel Hawthorne said about women, “Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart.
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Editor and Publisher Christie R. Gold
Senior Contributor Jane Whitehurst
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Editorial Office 8205 Quail Run Dr. Wesley Chapel, FL 33544 (813) 973-3770
Florida Sporthorse Magazine is committed to providing a quarterly publication that presents content encompassing a broad range of topics of interest to Florida’s dressage, eventing, 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. 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.
Amber Kimball’s Zamboni on a loose rein. This month, the central Florida dressage trainer discusses the importance of contact. Photo by Martha Grace
Florida Sporthorse Magazine
“Come along for the ride!”
. The Faces of Florida Sporthorse
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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. 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 certifiedpersonal fitness coach. 5. Kendra McLeod, DVM, received her veterinary degree from the University of Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Veterinary College in 2004 after finishing a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida in 2000. She has furthered her training by completing the Equine Acupuncture certification at the Chi Institute of Chinese Veterinary Medicine in 2009. Dr. McLeod spent six years in Wilmington,
5 NC as an associate for Pineview Veterinary Hospital and started her own part-time Holistic Medicine practice. She has a strong interest in equine reproduction, dentistry and acupuncture. Dr. McLeod enjoys teaching and is a courtesy assistant professor in Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and an adjunct faculty member for the San Juan College, Farmington, New Mexico, Veterinary Technology Distance Learning Program. Dr. McLeod is excited to be back in Florida, where she grew up horseback riding and competing in the western disciplines. 6. 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. 7. 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. 8. Alita Hendricks is a life-long equestrian, instructor, clinician, and retired educator; a graduate A of the United States pony Clubs; USPC National Examiner, Level IV; and has studied extensively in the USEA Instructors Certification Program. Her website AllHorseTalk.com is devoted to the teaching of classic horsemanship skills primarily through the use of video on topics including feeding, parasites, foot and shoeing, bandaging, systems, anatomy, stable skills, and more.
6 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
Staying in contact Consistent rein aids key to effective communication Amber Kimball
ontact, most simply, is taking enough slack out of the reins that they do not droop or sag toward the ground while riding a horse at any gait. Once the rider has taken the slack out of the reins the horse’s mouth and the rider’s hands are in contact with each other via the reins. As children, some of us played telephone with two cans and a string. When the string between the cans was snug, the two people could have a conversation so long as the string remained taut. When the string became loose, the conversation was lost. Rein contact between rider and horse is similar to the telephone game. The reins, when held gently stretched between the rider’s hands and the horse’s mouth, become a line of communication. The constant rein contact allows the rider to communicate subtle aids without first needing large hand movements to take the slack out of the rein.Riders often struggle with the concept of contact. The most common issues are riders holding too much unyielding pressure on the
Amber gives a basic contact lesson to Holly Davis and Emerson.
horse’s mouth or at the opposite end of the spectrum, riders being afraid to touch the horse’s mouth at all. Sometimes a rider will have the idea of soft contact but will simply fail to maintain it consistently.
The most important quality of contact is consistency of pressure on the reins. Even a light feel on the reins can be irritating to a horse if it’s unpredictable. Maintaining a consistent feel on the reins takes some practice.
Low Contact: A stretching or hunter-type frame still requires contact.
is ght it’s on
Driving Contact: Driving dressage horses need contact too. Tsjalling, a Friesian, in the dressage portion of a CDE.
Jump Contact: Good contact with a straight line from elbow to bit even over a big cross country jump.
On the ground, two riders can use a pair of reins to practice the feeling of good contact. One person acts as the horse, the other as the rider. The “horse” moves the reins and the “rider” tries to follow with even, light, consistent contact. The person acting as the horse can move the reins unpredictably to mimic a green or tense horse to give the “rider” some extra challenge. When mounted, your first step toward good contact as a rider is developing a solid, independent seat. If the seat is not stable the horse could be inadvertently snatched in the mouth should the rider become out of balance. The next thing on the check-list is the position of the arms and hands. The elbows should be close to the rider’s sides and the fingers closed around the reins without tension, always keeping the thumbs facing upward. Since the elbows act as shock absorbers between the horse’s mouth and the rider’s body it is important for the rider to keep some elasticity in the elbows so the hands follow the horse’s mouth a small amount, especially in the walk and canter. Once the rider offers consistent contact to the horse the horse will happily seek out the contact from the rider and stretch into the bit. As horses are individuals, it is impossible to give an exact measurement of how much pressure should be held in the reins. Some horses have a very sensitive mouth, others prefer a little more weight in the reins. In the way handshakes vary between humans, horses all have varied contact preferences. While one horse may prefer just a small amount of pressure, barely any more than the
Florida Sporthorse Magazine 7 weight of the reins, another horse may naturally take a firmer feel. When picking up the reins, remember the difference between a comfortable, firm handshake and a knuckle squashing grasp. Just as you would not like to have your knuckles crunched, no horse enjoys excessive pressure on the reins. Once you have established the type of contact your horse likes best, be sure to provide him a soft, consistent, reliable feel. As a very basic guide, if your contact is too light, the reins will droop toward the ground. If you find that your hands are aching or your arms are fatigued the contact is most likely too heavy. Experiment with different amounts of weight in the reins until you find a happy medium. The contact you establish with your horse can remain the same through any frame regardless of rein length. Many riders assume that long reins are soft and light and short reins are heavy and dull. From a long and low stretch or a basic natural frame to a high degree of collection such as piaffe, the soft, elastic contact can remain the same. It’s only the horse’s frame that changes as he lifts his poll and carries more weight on his hind legs. Soft elastic contact between horse and rider is an essential building block in any horse’s training. Jumpers, eventers, dressage horses and even race horses all have jobs that require being ridden with rein contact. Even though they all move in different outlines they all benefit proper consistent contact.
Practical craftsmanship Custom tack carts combine beauty, functionality
Christie Gold Diane Morrison
Above: Mark Sprecter’s custom tack carts are constructed from domestic wood and are available in a variety of stains including natural, ebony, walnut and cherry with gold or silver hardware. Components include hooks, bridle holders and whip racks. Inset: Sprecter (right) and his brother Bob produce carts in lots of 14 in Sprecter’s Odessa shop.
s the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and as Mark Sprecher watched his wife, Jane Whitehurst, lug her equipment from trailer to stall and back again at dressage shows, he put his background in woodworking and construction to work and set out to build a tack cart that would be functional, maneuverable and attractive. “I noticed Jane struggling to get here stuff to the barn at shows on a cart with skinny wheels. It was tough to pull it through the sand. I thought I could make something better,” Sprecher said. That was 10 years ago. Today, Sprecher’s Tack Carts (tackcarts.com) supplies high-quality wood tack carts to retail locations from Michigan to South Florida. He drew design inspiration from heavy duty hand trucks, an apparatus he found indispensable in his own career in maintenance and remodeling. Built on the same principle, they tilt back onto 10” pneumatic wheels for easy transport while keeping a saddle and other equipment secure and balanced. Sprecher says the functionality of the cart has not changed since his first prototype, but it has evolved.
Concerned with the weight of a wooden cart, he built the first out of poplar. “The wheels were the same as I use now. It was functional, but it didn’t look nice.“ He soon realized that weight was not a concern due to the balance and maneuverability of his design. He also understood the equestrian aesthetic. “The basic design hasn’t changed, but today’s model looks better. I beefed up the wood, added finger grips and high quality hardware.” The end result is a furniture-quality cart that Wellington dressage trainer John Zopatti says is almost “too pretty for the barn.” Building carts was a hobby until a few years ago when Whitehurst moved her horses to Keystone Sport Horses, a busy dressage and hunter/jumper facility in Odessa. Owner Pam Aide liked the carts and Sprecher began filling orders for her boarders and clients, adding custom colors of stain and hardware. “Mark’s tack carts are wonderfully functional pieces of furniture. With boarders numbering in the double digits, these beautiful carts keep our busy barn aisles neat and orderly regardless of traffic,” Aide said.
Today’s models are available in natural, ebony, walnut and cherry with gold or silver hooks and bridle holders. In 2010, Sprecher and Whitehurst opened Nosara Farms. The property included a spacious workshop that frequently echoes with the sharp buzz of saws, routers and sanders. Last fall, Penny Peterson Walsh, a boarder at Nosara convinced Sprecher to take the carts wholesale. “Penny’s husband told me that I had a good product. They were attending the AETA (American Equestrian Trade Association) trade show in Philadelphia for their own business, and they encouraged me to attend.” The only obstacle was shipping. For years, Sprecher had focused primarily on durability. Now the challenge was creating a cart that was
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collapsible. Using furniture grade cross dowels and slightly altering the size of the original cart, he was able to create a cart that could be shipped without sacrificing structural integrity. “The reception in Philly was overwhelming,” he said. “I sold about 15 there, and the President of Dover Saddlery showed and interest in them. Right now, they are available in six or seven states from Grand Rapids to Wellington.” Sprecher met Maryann O’Keefe of Tampa’s Whip N’ Spur Tack Shop at the show. When he returned to Tampa, he delivered a cart to her store. It sold in less than an hour. To meet demand, Sprecher convinced his brother Bob to join him in the business. The two are an efficient team, constructing carts in groups
of 14. The family element is just one more element that makes the carts special. “Bob just loves it,” Sprecher said, “and working together has made us closer than we have been in years.” In an age where most furniture is constructed overseas from particle board, Sprecher takes pride in craftsmanship using mostly domestic wood and American-made components. Sprecher’s job with the Pinellas County school system ends in 12 months. After that, he will direct his energy toward growth and expansion of the woodworking business. He is already developing new products targeted at show riders including bridle, ribbon and saddle racks and other tack room accessories.
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10 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
All in the family
Mother, daughter share passion for driving Jean White
If you have seen any Combined Driving Events in Florida then chances are you have seen Nifty and Jan Jan Hamilton compete. They both drive 15-hand Morgan geldings that look enough alike to be confusing. Nifty drives Nick. Jan Jan drives Desi. Nifty is Jan Jan’s mother. To make the family ties even more complex, there is Bus, Jan Jan’s father and Nifty’s navigator. Ron Barnett, Jan Jan’s navigator, has been affectionately “adopted” by the family. All members of the big, happy Hamilton family of horses and humans are long listed for the FEI World Championships for Singles. It all started when Nifty and Bus decided they would like to have a nice pair of pretty horses to drive for pleasure down the road and on the trails. These green drivers picked out a pair of pretty two and a half year old Morgan geldings. Green drivers driving green horses sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Nifty and Bus are smart folks and good horsemen. From day one, they began an education in driving that has never stopped. Initially, the Morgan geldings worked as a pair and put in many miles on the trails with Nifty and Bus just for the pleasure of driving in beautiful country, but they were not to remain a pair for long. At 11, Jan Jan decided that she wanted to drive and so the pair was split into singles with Nifty driving one and Jan Jan the other. It wasn’t long before Nifty and Jan Jan decided to compete. Of course, you don’t just get onto the long list of potential world championship drivers without years of work. The Hamilton team spent a year at Training Level learning the ropes of Combined Driving. They were successful that year and moved up to Preliminary Level the next year. That year at Preliminary ended with success and Desi and Nick were fit and ready to make the big jump to Intermediate. The next two years Nifty and Jan Jan learned and competed at this difficult level until they felt they were ready to move up to Advanced, the highest level of Combined driving. Due to their success at this level they were added to the long list of drivers for the FEI World Championships for Singles. The Hamilton team has risen to the Advanced level in a relatively short period of time. What is their secret? Jan Jan says, “Each other!” Jan Jan, now a senior in high school, and Nifty watch and help each other on a daily basis. Bus watches Jan Jan and Nifty’s lessons to develop his eye and is now not only a skilled navigator but a great help to his wife and daughter as a ground
coach. Jan Jan’s horse Desi is the boss horse of the two and Jan Jan says he is “the best trail horse ever.” Jan Jan’s favorite and best phase is Marathon. While they may not be dressage stars, Jan Jan works hard to improve their dressage each day because she feels it is the basis of doing well in all three phases of Combined Driving. Jan Jan is also quick to point out that her success in marathon rests on her confidence in her navigator Ron. “I know I can go fast because Ron will be in the right place at the right time,” she said. Jan Jan and Ron will walk each obstacle 15 times or more until they know each gate, each turn, the condition of the ground, and their route with their eyes closed. In fact they often walk the course in the dark. “It is so peaceful out there and most of the venues are so beautiful that it is great to walk at night.” Nifty and Bus may not be quite as fast as Jan Jan in marathon, but Nifty excels on cones course. Nifty and Jan Jan both have high praise for USEF Team Driving Coach Michael Fruend. “He goes above and beyond to help all the listed drivers” Nifty said. Fruend has the job of getting the USA team ready for the FEI 2012 Singles Driving Championships which will be held in Lezirias, Portugal, September 13-16, 2012. The venue at Lizirias, some 40 minutes from the Portuguese capitol of Lisbon, has a long history of hosting equestrian competitions, international events and championships. “Michael is always available to answer any questions we might have,” said Jan Jan. “He is a great coach.” It is evident that Bus, Nifty, Jan Jan, and Ron have a high level of respect for each other’s skills and ideas. They readily give credit to their teachers and mentors. They have fun. What a great example of what sport should be all about!
Nifty Hamilton and Nick at the Little Everglades Combined Driving Event in 2011. Nifty and her daughter Jan Jan are both long listed for the FEI World Championships.
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12 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
ev an (w nu to Vit as
What horses need for optimum health and performance
Vit sym con the wi an
Solving the supplement puzzle Debra Redmond I’m often asked what supplements are necessary to aid health in our equine companions. The answer isn’t a simple one. Every cell in the body needs to be nourished in order to survive and perform its designated function. We all know that there are differences in quality of various consumer goods. Homes built with quality materials are more energy efficient and withstand the harsh elements of the environment with less maintenance than those homes built with inferior materials. The same truth applies to feed, supplements and nutraceuticals. Our world is increasingly under pressure by rising population, shrinking natural resources and pollution. Where and how feed and grain are produced can have a profound effect on its ability to nourish our companions. When considering feed choices it’s best to purchase the best product you can afford. Clean water, nutritious food and a safe environment are essential to your horse’s well being. All commercial feed companies have to comply with packaging rules and regulations, but deciphering the label on feed can be difficult. When we consider an element such as protein most of us have been conditioned to think of protein in terms of a percentage. Consider a feed that’s labeled 10% protein. Simply feeding a 10% grain doesn’t mean your horse is consuming 10% of his diet in the form of protein. A 10% protein grain provides approximately 45 grams of protein per
Regional differences in feed and grasses available also account for many subtle differences in feed and supplement requirements. Certain parts of our country have deficiencies in minerals while other areas have surpluses in the same mineral. pound, so a horse consuming 10 lbs. of 10% protein grain would be getting about 450 grams of protein from his grain. If the horse is consuming 5 lbs of 10% protein grain per day, he would be consuming approximately 225 grams of protein from his grain. Additionally, it would be necessary to have some idea what the available protein is in the horse’s hay. For most horses the major source of protein in
their diet comes from forage and hay. If we assume that the hay has an available protein amount of 7.5% and the horse eats 20lbs of hay a day, he’d get approximately 681 grams of protein from hay. In order to make use of these calculations you also need to know your horse’s approximate body weight and his activity level. The average 1100 lb (500 kg) horse needs 630 grams of protein just to support his body weight and organs. If he’s engaged in light activity the protein requirement jumps to 768 grams. The calculation for “at rest” maintenance is the horse’s body weight in kilograms x 1.26 = protein requirement in grams. (To determine weight in kilograms – divide the horse’s weight in pounds by 2.2) If all of this isn’t complicated enough there are other factors to consider. Protein contains essential amino acids that are necessary for health. If your horse is experiencing muscle loss or soreness, coat or hoof problems or weakness and poor development it’s necessary to evaluate your feeding program and evaluate what elements may be deficient or imbalanced in your horse’s diet. It’s no wonder there are numerous websites offering feed and supplement analysis. By studying an animal’s natural diet we can gain insights into what feed is best suited to our equine companions. Fresh grasses, herbs, seed grains, roots, shrubs and flowers are all part of the diet of horses in the wild. Unlike many farms in the US that plant pastures with specific seed rather than a mixture of grasses and herbs, many breeding farms overseas consider pastures with less than 50 or more varieties unsuitable for raising horses that are growing or competing. The hypothesis is that the animals will selectively browse the available plants and choose
those that are necessary for optimal health. What is “natural” is also complicated due to breed differences. Domesticated horses have been bred in different areas of the world. The area of origin and the purpose for which the horse was bred contribute to the horse’s DNA. Breed differences also assist in determining metabolic rate and tolerance to commonly fed ingredients. Regional differences in feed and grasses available also account for many subtle differences in feed and supplement requirements. Certain parts of our country have deficiencies in minerals while other areas have surpluses in the same mineral. AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) is the governing body for basic dietary supplements that are recognized as essential. These include carbohydrates, fats, protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, and selenium as well as some basic vitamins. Supplements containing these ingredients are regulated as feeds. The AAFCO has established definitions for these ingredients and forms that are allowable in supplements. These are guidelines and not laws for uniformity. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is involved in some monitoring for contamination and the establishment of safe additives for feed as well as regulating medications in feed. The term “nutraceutical” meaning a part of food that provides a medical or health benefit has continually evoked confusion. Many definitions have been proposed but the problem becomes
evident when we realize that situations vary and what is considered a dietary supplement (which is supposed to complement the diet) and a nutraceutical (implying a health benefit or power to influence a disease state) can be the same. Vitamin E given to a healthy horse can be defined as a dietary supplement. The same Vitamin E administered to a Vitamin E deficient horse displaying neurological symptoms becomes a nutraceutical. If this confusion can occur with vitamins, it’s no wonder the regulatory bodies have struggled for decades with the situation involving vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Vitamin E deficiency is accountable for more
problems in equines than all other vitamins combined. Only a small amount can be stored in the liver and deficiency in vitamin E can contribute to muscular and neurological issues as well as impaired immune response. For those horses that are fed hay and have limited access to pasture supplementing vitamin E makes sense. Supplement at the rate of 1000 IU vitamin E for those in light work and 2000 IU for those in moderate work. For adequate absorption, vitamin E should be fed with a meal that contains some fat. For this reason its best to add any vitamin E supplement to your horse’s feed. Minerals are vital to cellular function and health. We all know that calcium is vital to bone formation and density but minerals perform many other functions within the body. Some minerals can be toxic in excess (selenium, iron, iodine). In many cases toxicity occurs indirectly. Minerals compete with one another for absorption. High levels of some minerals will crowd out the absorption of other minerals. Because of this relationship it’s important to maintain correct mineral balance. In fact, high mineral intake can often be tolerated provided the correct balance is maintained. Unless you are feeding a complete feed your horse’s major source of minerals is hay or grass. There is a large variation between plant and grass types. Some
Florida Sporthorse Magazine 13 manufacturers specify that their supplement is meant to balance a certain type of hay, alfalfa, timothy or grass. The truth is that there is so much variation among hay and grass that there is no perfect supplement. For this reason most nutritionists will advise owners to have their hay tested and to supplement vitamins and minerals based on the results of this testing and the additional concentrated feed (grain). This approach works for most of horsemen in the U.S. Hay is baled two to five times per year and stored for use throughout the season when grasses are typically dormant. When I lived “up north” we typically stored 150 bales of hay per horse so that we’d have an adequate supply until the next year’s harvest. For most of us in Florida this simply isn’t an option. For most Florida horse owners. it’s necessary to look at what type of hay we’re feeding and a generalized analysis of vitamins and minerals for that type of hay. Without the information available through hay analysis, horsemen in Florida need to be keenly aware of issues that can be caused by vitamin and mineral imbalances and deficits. Consult with your veterinarian or an equine specialist in nutrition if your horse exhibits signs that may indicate a deficiency or imbalance. Some of the issues to be aware of include poor hoof and hair coat, allergies, liver or lung disease, poor immunity, exaggerated inflammatory response to injuries, muscular cramping or pain, and poor see Supplements/page 15
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>Chiropractic >Homeopathy >Body Balancing >Laser >Acupuncture >Reiki and Cranial Sacral >Magnetic Wave
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14 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
The blink of an eye
EyeD provides non-invasive equine identification
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rom brands to lip tattoos to microchips, horse owners have sought ways to identify and secure bloodstock since the earliest days of equine domestication. The newest means of identification is EyeD. Marketed by Global Animal Management, a division of Merck, the technology promises a 99 percent accurate, non-invasive means of identifying horses through iris scan technology. Human iris scan technology has fueled the plots of science fiction and action thrillers such as “Angels and Demons” and “Minority Report,” but in both humans and animals, the technology is becoming recognized as a nearly foolproof method of identification. Like a human fingerprint, no two irises are the same. Even clones have different iris patterns. Using a specialized digital camera, a technician captures images of the intricate structures of the iris called an “eyePrint.” Specialized software uses mathematical and statistical algorithms to allow positive identification of an individual. “Once a horse is enrolled, the eyeD identification can be attached to other pieces of information such as health certificates, health records, Coggins tests and interstate movement certificates,” marketing manager David Knupp said. Knupp says the technology creates a better situation for horse and rider than traditional identification practices, and he believes that it will quickly become an industry standard. “Providing no more undue stress to animals, eyeD takes only minutes to capture a digital photo of the horse’s eyes, and all without restraining the horse during the process,” Knupp said. “Horse owners can ensure lower stress levels and increased safety of their horses by using eyeD.” Launched at last year’s American Association of Equine Practitioner (AAEP) conference in San Antonio, eyeD is being agressively marketed to veterinarians. Like the digital stills taken for Coggins tests, the eyeD information can be submitted directly to laboratories, creating a greater level of efficiency and security for vets. “Having a noninvasive way of identifying my equine patients is exciting,” Monty McInturff, D.V.M., Tennessee Equine Hospital said. “The information stored in the eyeD database is tamper proof, permanent and safe from damage unlike paper documents. I look forward to utilizing this technology to better serve my customers.” For show managers, Knupp sees eyeD as a means to quickly and accurately check in horses. At the Live Oak CDE in March, eyeD was used as part of the vet check. Knupp says that
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David Knupp, Global Animal Management marketing manager, demonstrates the eyeD technology with a prototype camera earlier this year.
his company has communicated with both the FEI and USEF. Although the system has not yet become a standard part of the vet check, part of eyeD’s marketing strategy is to showcase the product at large events in order to demonstrate its efficiency. In addition to Live Oak, eyeD has served as part of the enrollment and verification processes at the 2011 Young Rider Championships and the 2012 HITS Desert Circuit. Knupp says that even high-strung competition horses have no fear of the hand-held camera. “Most horses cock their heads to take a look. Before they can really think about the camera, we’ve captured the image, and it’s done.” Whether it’s to identify animals after a natural
disaster such as a hurricane, to prevent theft or assist in finding a stolen animal, to comply with breed registries or to confirm parentage, horse owners today rely on a variety of methods, yet none are completely reliable. Tattoos can be altered and may fade over time. Hot brands, popular in warmblood registries, do little more than identify the breed. Even microchips, placed beneath the horse’s skin about halfway up the neck, have drawbacks, such as the risk of improper implantation or incorrect scanning. Currently, horse owners can sign up for eyeD online at www.eyeD.com. After completing online registration, horse owners can contact their veterinarian to have their horses’ eyes scanned.
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Florida’s humid climate prime for rain rot Alita Hendricks Rain Rot is also called by the following terms; rain scald, dew poisoning (when on the legs), mud fever, and streptithricosis. It is caused by the bacterium dermatophilus congolensis which can live either with or without oxygen although it prefers an anaerobic state. Rain rot is contagious and can be transmitted from horse to horse or by horses rubbing on common scratching posts or trees. Most usually, it is transmitted by using common grooming tools or saddle pads. Horses can carry the rain rot bacterium without showing symptoms (it needs a wound or insect bite to enter a break in the skin) and a horse can become reinfected, even if no one shares his grooming tools and tack, if those items are not frequently cleaned and treated to kill the bacteria. Rain rot is most common in parts of the country that have a warm and humid climate, but it can hide under winter coats. Rain rot can be seen by the appearance of raised spots with dull hair on the back, neck, and haunches of the horse and by the same spots on the legs, especially the front of the cannon bones, or at the tendon just above the hocks. These spots on the legs are also a bit greasy. The hair and scabs may pull out fairly easily and may ooze underneath. The only discomfort a horse feels with rain rot is when the scabs are picked off and this needs to happen to expose the bacterium to medication and air for treatment. To treat rain rot, the horse must be bathed with soap and water. Plain soap will do, but medicated products that will kill the bacterium work best. There are many anti-microbial, anti-bacterial products on the market. My favorite product for treatment of rain rot is affordable and very easy to make. It was told to me by a Veterinarian who was the chair
of a southern Vet School. Mix equal parts of pine disinfectant and Listerine mouth rinse (or a generic equivalent). There is an AllHorseTalk. com video titled “Anti-Fungal Scrub” to show you more about this.
Here are the steps to treat rain rot: 1. Wet the horse’s coat to be treated thoroughly with tepid or warm water. 2. Apply the Scrub or soap to the affected areas and wait a few minutes to allow the solution to soften the scabs. 3. Gently pick open the scabs with your finger tips or a soft grooming tool. (If there are a lot of scabs or a very large area to treat, you may need to open some of them now and try again the following day. Your horse may show a good deal of discomfort at this part of the treatment and the scabs will ooze. It may be kinder to treat a very bad case daily over the course of several days.) 4. Let the Scrub solution sit for about 10 minutes to be effective. 5. Thoroughly rinse the area with clear water. 6. Dry the area. If plain soap was used, you will need to apply some type of anti-bacterial agent or spray to the area after it has dried. 7. Retreat as directed. I retreat once or twice more in the next 7 days with my Anti-Fungal Scrub. If using Betadine, Phenol, or Nolvasan, it is recommended to retreat the areas daily for one week. Severe cases of rain rot may require your veterinarian’s attention, including the use of antibiotics. It is best to catch and treat rain rot early.
The state’s warm, humid climate makes horses prone to rain rot, marked by itchy raised spots on the skin.
Supplements/from page 13 muscle development. Other factors can also influence an individual horse’s ability to utilize vitamins and minerals contained in their diet. Genetic make-up, previous health issues, poor maintenance such as dental health or exposure to toxins in the environment can have an effect on overall health. Since many health issues and some behavioral problems are the result of nutritional imbalances it’s no wonder there are so many products on the market to address deficiencies in diets and so much confusion as to their application. Antioxidants can play a large role in your animal’s wellbeing. Their function within the body is to limit damage by neutralizing free radicals which are generated when oxygen is used or produced when drugs or toxins are broken down. Free radicals can also enter the body directly from pollution in the air, soil, and water. (Think of the increased toxin load in the environment due to the nuclear disaster in Japan). Free radicals, which are minus an electron,
gravitate to any nearby cells and in the process cause damage to cellular walls. Antioxidant enzymes are manufactured within the body and are vital to healthy immune system function. (Antioxidants do not stimulate the immune system) If your horse is consuming plenty of fresh grass it’s likely that he’s receiving the majority of nutrients necessary to create antioxidants. If turnout is compromised (draught, winter dormancy), your horse suffers from allergies, is healing from an injury or is participating in a rigorous training program, supplementation might be beneficial. If your horse shows signs of poor immunity, an exaggerated inflammatory response, muscle cramping, poor muscle development, tendon/ ligament/joint problems unrelated to his exercise program or slow healing, it’s time to analyze your horse’s feed intake. If the intake of vitamin A, E, C, B’s, selenium, manganese, zinc and copper are optimized and your horse continues to
display symptoms which may be related to poor antioxidant defenses, antioxidant supplementation may be necessary. A multibillion dollar nutraceutical industry has developed over the past decades. Some of the biggest selling equine nutraceuticals are intended to address vitamin and mineral deficiencies, joint health, digestive aids and hoof and coat supplements. In addition there are many portions of the equine population that have been specialized nutritional needs. Pregnant, lactating, senior horses and growing horses have higher nutritional needs in specific vitamins and minerals. Horses that have developed certain chronic conditions (Cushings disease, COPD, obesity) may benefit from some increased nutritional support. In the coming issue of Florida Sport Horse I’ll try to address some of the major nutritional areas of supplementation. It’s ultimately more economical and beneficial to prevent disease than it is to restore it.
16 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
Electrolytes keep critical systems functioning as summer temperatures soar
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Heat of the moment Nerida Richards, Phd What are electrolytes? Very simply, electrolytes are minerals, which, when present in a watery solution like body fluids, become positively or negatively charged particles that have the ability to conduct electricity. Electrolytes maintain fluid balance and circulatory function, facilitate muscle contractions, trigger nerve functions and maintain the body’s acid base balance. The most important electrolyte minerals are sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium. What if horses become electrolyte deficient? Electrolyte deficiencies are associated with fatigue, muscle weakness, lethargy and reduced feed and water intakes, resulting in weight loss and dehydration. In addition, electrolyte deficient horses may experience reduced sweating, which can result in hyperthermia (over heating) and compromised performance. Studies in England have also linked electrolyte deficiencies to the incidence of recurring bouts of tying up (Harris et al. 1992). Please Note: severe electrolyte deficiency can result in complete exhaustion, colic, synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (commonly known as the ‘thumps’), collapse and death if not treated. Severe electrolyte deficiencies are a veterinary emergency requiring IV fluids, electrolytes and specialist care so please call your vet immediately if you suspect your horse is acutely dehydrated and electrolyte deficient. How much ‘electrolyte’ does a horse need? All horses have a small daily requirement for electrolytes to replace the obligatory losses from the body in the urine and faeces. This requirement is termed a horse’s ‘maintenance requirement’ and is reflected in FeedXL’s recommended daily intakes for horses not in work. As a horse exercises its muscles generate heat. To prevent its body from dangerously overheating, the horse sweats to allow evaporative cooling to dissipate the heat being produced. As a horse sweats, water and electrolytes, including sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium are lost from the body. For effective sweating to occur, the horse must be well hydrated and have an ample supply of electrolytes in its body. The electrolytes and water lost through sweating must be replaced during exercise to prevent electrolyte depletion and dehydration. This newsletter will look at what electrolytes are and why they are important, how much ‘electrolyte’ a horse needs, where horses get electrolytes from in the diet and when to use an electrolyte supplement. Sweating increases a horse’s requirement for electrolytes above their maintenance requirement, as large quantities of sodium, potassium and chloride and smaller quantities of magnesium and calcium are excreted in sweat.
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Summer heat takes its toll on horses. Knowing your horse’s mineral intake requirements in normal and extreme conditions is necessary for maintaining health throughout the year.
The amount a horse sweats, and therefore its electrolyte requirement, will be determined by the amount of work it is doing, the intensity of work it is performing and the climatic conditions in which the horse lives and works. Individual horses also vary considerably in their tendency to sweat. As an indication, in a moderate climate, a racing thoroughbred will lose between 5 and 10 litres of sweat during a daily workout and an endurance horse will excrete between 5 and 10 litres of sweat per hour when travelling between 12 and 18 km/hour. Sweat losses of up to 15 litres/hour can occur during high intensity exercise where horses are travelling at between 30 – 35 km/hour. How does climate affect requirements? Hot and particularly hot and humid climates increase a horse’s need for electrolytes as horses willsweat more under these conditions. As a general guide, if the temperature is 86°F supply 140% of your horse’s recommended daily intake (RDI). If the temperature is 95°F, supply 170% of your horse’s calculated requirement for these minerals and if the temperature is 104°F or over you should supply 200% of their requirements. Also be sure to have a salt lick available at all times. Where do electrolytes come from? Pastures and forages are almost always a rich source of potassium and are commonly a good source of magnesium. However they tend to contain variable and often unknown concentrations of chloride and
typically low concentrations of sodium. Common table salt contains 39% sodium and 61% chloride and is frequently used as a readily available, palatable and cheap source of these electrolytes in a horse’s diet. Potassium chloride (50% potassium, 47% chloride) can be used to supply additional potassium and chloride where required and magnesium oxide is a readily available and cost effective source of magnesium where additional magnesium is needed. Grains contain only very small amounts of all the electrolyte minerals and it is high grain diets that are most commonly ‘electrolyte deficient’. Of course there are also many electrolyte supplements on the market that do provide electrolyte minerals for horses. It is very much a case of buyer beware when purchasing electrolyte supplements as many are no more than a slightly salty bucket of glucose. When should you feed electrolyte supplements? In many situations horses can get enough electrolyte minerals from a forage based diet that has plain table salt added for additional sodium and chloride. Some horses on high grain/low forage diets may benefit from an electrolyte supplement that contains potassium or need potassium chloride added to their feeds. On a day to day basis though, most horses won’t need a commercial electrolyte supplement. Commercial electrolyte supplements are however very handy in situations where your horse is away from home, not grazing or eating as much hay as he normally would and/or working a lot harder or longer and sweating more than
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usual. Well formulated supplements (ones that contain the same proportion of electrolytes as those found in equine sweat) can be used in these situations to quickly replace electrolytes lost in sweat. Where prolonged exercise occurs (for example endurance riding or long days of stockwork or trail riding) it may be necessary to provide some electrolytes during the period of exercise. Well formulated electrolyte supplements will provide enough electrolyte minerals in a 60 gram dose to replace the salts lost in 5 litres of sweat. There is debate over how much electrolyte replacer you should give to working horses with no firm recommendations available given it does depend so much on the climate, intensity of work
and the horse as an individual. If a horse is sweating consistently over a long period of time AND will have access to water frequently you can give 60 grams of electrolyte every hour to two hours. If water is not available on a frequent basis give 60 grams of electrolyte when you know the horse will have access to water and can have a good drink. Don’t give more than 60 grams per dose as you may overload the horses ability to absorb the salts you give. Well formulated electrolyte supplements will contain 20 – 25% sodium, 43 – 48% chloride, 10 – 12% potassium and smaller amounts of magnesium and calcium (normally 1 to 2%). These higher quality products will also have less than 20% glucose or other base or filler.
Florida Sporthorse Magazine 17
Practical Application Tips for feeding electrolytes 1. Always make sure your horse has access to water after being given electrolytes as they will get thirsty and need to be able to drink. Failure to provide water will result in dehydration because the salts will pull water out of the body and into the gut. 2. If it is possible, wait for your horse to have a drink of water before giving it electrolytes. 3. Never give electrolytes to an already dehydrated horse that isn’t drinking as you will worsen the dehydration. Call your vet in these situations. 4. Don’t add electrolyte supplements to a fussy horse’s feed as chances are it won’t eat them. Instead mix the electrolyte with apple sauce and give it over the tongue (beware they will spit it all over you!). 5. During endurance rides where feed intake is also important, allow your horse to eat before giving him electrolytes as a paste as it will often stop a horse from eating for a little while which may affect your gut noise scores. 6. Always have a salt lick available to allow your horse access to extra sodium and chloride at any time. 7. If you want to use an electrolyte to help make your horse drink when away from home try it out at home to see if it works – if you dose your horse with electrolytes and he doesn’t drink he will actually end up more dehydrated than when you started. 8. To increase water intake, offer slightly salty water to your horse as its first drink after exercise. Research has shown that horses who drink slightly salty water initially will drink more water and rehydrate themselves faster after exercise than horse who drink plain water as their first drink. You will likely need to train your horses to drink the salty water, a touch of molasses might help.
Writer/Reporter needed to cover hunter/jumper and combined training. For more information: email@example.com
18 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
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Routine oral exams critical to equine health, performance
Kendra McLeod, DVM
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quine Dentistry is an integral part of the overall well being of every horse. Dental care needs to be considered as part of the complete health picture of your horse and contributes to healthy digestion, body condition and performance. It is very important to have a thorough oral exam on your horse yearly because horses have hypsodont teeth. Hypsodont teeth continue to erupt (or grow) throughout a horse’s life. Because the top arcade is wider than their lower arcade, horses can develop very sharp points that can cause cheek abrasions or tongue ulcers which can be prevented with routine dental care. The oral exam is done with a full mouth dental speculum to ensure that the entire dental arcade can be visualized and palpated. Once the veterinarian has a good look at the horse’s dental situation, she or he can recommend the proper care and maintenance schedule for your horse’s teeth. Generally, oral exams should be started at birth to help recognize dental problems. Between the ages two and five, horses are erupting new teeth and losing deciduous teeth (baby teeth). The permanent teeth push the deciduous teeth out and are called caps. When the shedding process of these caps is not complete they become retained and can cause discomfort and malocclusions. This is also the age when wolf teeth, the first premolar, should be extracted if present to prevent biting problems. Training is commonly started at this time and it is recommended to have your young horse’s teeth floated twice a year during this critical age. Once horses are nearing 15 years of age it is recommended to go back to a twice-yearly exam. More conservative care should be taken with an older horse and it is crucial to check for loose or fractured teeth. It is a common misconception that your horse only needs his or her teeth floated if underweight. However, the following clinical signs, complaints and findings warrant an evaluation: weight loss or failure to gain weight, difficulty eating, slow or reluctant to eat, quidding or dropping feed, abnormal head movement or carriage, halitosis (bad breath), facial swelling, colic, esophageal choke, nasal discharge, drooling or salivation, poor performance, difficulty with the bit, or behavior changes. There are many common findings that can be handled at a routine appointment. Sharp enamel points of the cheek teeth can cause ulcers on the cheek or tongue. Hooks are commonly found on the upper premolars and lower molars and can
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Dr. Kendra McLeod and Dr. Carolyn Oppenheimer of Brandon’s Surgicare Center for horses works on Francesca on one of the clinic’s “Dental Days.” Quality oral care is essential for a horse’s overall health and performance.
cause an abnormal rotation and grinding of the jaw. Wave mouths can occur due to malocclusions or uneven wearing of the teeth. A step mouth can develop when there is a missing or broken tooth. Severe congenital defects such as parrot mouth (overbite) or sow mouth (underbite) require more frequent management and may require more advanced modalities. Abnormal wear can be seen from trauma, malocclusions or vices such as cribbing. Equine dental care has been established since the late 18th century but has come a long way in
technology and skill. Equine dental equipment now has cuttingedge technology with power tools available. The development of more advanced dental floats, the speculum, light systems, head restraints and sedatives have dramatically improved the quality and efficiency of dental examinations and treatments. There is considerable controversy amongst horse owners on the safety of such new procedures when compared to the hand files. The power tools have a higher risk of creating thermal injury to the pulp tissues whenever
crowns are reduced and can occur with improper technique and training. It is critical that you use a veterinarian that has competence in their existing technique. Power floats, when used with proper technique, will get the job done in a shorter time frame. Correcting large hooks, steps, and creating bit seats can generate too much heat and should be done in stages or with frequent rinsing. Preventing these problems from occurring or catching them at an early stage is yet another reason why your horse should have routine dental exams and treatments. An oral exam is also recommended as part of a thorough yearly physical exam and during a pre-purchase exam. Teeth are a non-renewable resource and should be handled with care.
Overall, horsesâ€™ teeth are a vital part to having a happy and healthy horse. For more information you may contact SurgiCare Center for Horses at 813-643-7177 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Florida Sporthorse Magazine
20 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
Position to execution
Eventing symposium emphasizes correct and effective rider form Ashley Leith
n Monday, February 13th and Tuesday, February 14th, the United States Eventing Association’s Instructor Certification Program hosted a two-day teaching symposium at Betsy Watkin’s Longwood Farm in Ocala, FL. On the first day, Stephen Clark of the UK, president of the Olympic Ground Jury in September, taught dressage to six groups from training level through advanced level event horses and then taught three top level dressage riders. On the second day, Olympic gold medal
In the riding world, there are instructors who are positionists and instructors who are executionists. The first group focuses on riders developing a correct position. The second group focuses on riders getting the job done. recipient Leslie Law taught cross country jumping to five groups of riders ranging from novice level through intermediate level. At the end of every session the clinicians fielded questions from the audience and discussed the methods and training techniques used. In the riding world, there are instructors who are positionists and instructors who are executionists. The first group focuses on riders developing a correct position. The second group focuses on riders getting the job done. With elegant style, both of these world-class instructors were able to influence and reinforce correct rider position to demonstrate harmony and simplicity in executing correct training through the levels.
I rode on both days in the intermediate level group, taking different horses each day. On Monday I rode Tactical Maneuver in the semiprivate dressage lesson with Stephen. Tactical Maneuver, or Gucci as I call him, is a seven-yearold off the track thoroughbred. Although Gucci has a lot of talent and has moved through the lower levels quickly, he is still a very inexperienced horse and he can be prone to emotional outbursts when he feels pressure. He has only just moved up to intermediate level, and I knew that he might prove to be a bit of a wild card in the clinic. With the thought of dressage, though, I figured that most riders would be bringing warmbloods. On principle, I wanted to see how Stephen would handle a hotter thoroughbred horse. As it turned out, Stephen was a master. While watching us warm up, Stephen was immediately insightful about Gucci’s level of training. His first direction to us was to go back to the building blocks and create suppleness through the topline by having Gucci deepen his frame and stretch his neck. Only after Stephen felt that he was through did he have me rebalance Gucci into a more elevated and engaged frame and move on to different movements. As we worked, Stephen also systematically noted my position strengths and weaknesses. He felt my seat and my hand position were both very good, but he asked me to stretch open through the front of my chest, and he noted that my left elbow had a bit too much movement. With these two position changes addressed, we continued to work with the shoulder in, haunches in, half pass and lengthen in the trot. Then we moved on to cantering a serpentine of four loops with simple changes of lead across center line. At this point in the session a big hole became apparent. Gucci struggles with walk/canter, canter/walk transitions. He becomes tense and
can almost be explosive. Stephen immediately shifted gears. He told me to be more systematic in my approach and to focus on the steps necessary to create the clean transition. He also allowed me to use a canter circle to relax Gucci through the topline before a downward transition. He said to me that I needed to use the strength of my position to influence the balance of my horse. “Your back must stay strong in a canter/ walk transition, but your hands must stay low so that your horse will stay through.” I cantered around the next half circle to center line and focused on Stephen’s instructions. Gucci executed a crisp and relaxed canter/walk transition. The change was so apparent that the audience broke out in spontaneous applause. Within the lesson Stephen taught meticulous application of a correct progression of training and a strong rider position. This created a correct execution. On Tuesday I rode my more experienced intermediate horse Monte Carlo in the intermediate level jumping group with Leslie Law. After a warm-up, Leslie had us begin by jumping a single fence out of rhythm. We then progressed to jumping a four-jump course around the field. Leslie again asked us to meet each fence out of rhythm. None of the fences were complicated or had vertical faces. Between the fences I rode in a two-point. As I came to each fence I sank into a light three-point position. Leslie liked what he saw with Monte and me. My group then jumped around a few more mini-courses with success. In the last jump set of the lesson, Leslie had us progress to a more difficult course. It started with an oxer, then we did a jump into water, a skinny coffin, a bounce, and finally a very spooky narrow jump that was actually circular on top, so it was as wide as it was narrow. Monte jumped the water well, but then peeked at the skinny coffin. I came out of the coffin and
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Florida Sporthorse Magazine 21
Ashley Leith rode her horses Tactical Maneuver and Monte Carlo is the USEA’s two-day teaching symposium in Feb.
hit him with my whip and dug my spurs in as we went up the hill. I knew I only had that one stretch to get him in front of my leg before the bounce, which was not going to be pretty if he peeked at it. Monte responded beautifully and moved forward. After a short gallop he rebalanced quickly on the turn into an active canter on the approach to the bounce. After the bounce complex we turned to the skinny circle jump, with a downhill approach. This jump just invited a run-out or a peek and I
knew that with Monte if I in any way let the runout happen that Monte would immediately begin to think that it was a good way of life. In other words, I have learned with Monte in particular to make sure to do things right the first time because otherwise I have to spend a long time going back and correcting the miscommunication. Monte galloped down and jumped the skinny circle jump without hesitation. In the course of five jumps, Leslie had given us a sequence that was able to put my horse on his feet for an
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intermediate run. In the discussion afterwards, Leslie also commented on the skinny jump. He said, “When I am brave enough on any given horse to jump that jump, I am at the point that I know I can jump it right, because otherwise it just asks for trouble.” During the lesson, Leslie spoke to the audience about how developing a strong lower leg so as to support a strong upper body position was key in cross country riding. One of his teaching threads throughout the day was to talk about how sometimes falling into a full driving seat before every jump can actually disrupt a horse’s balance and flatten them or cause them to run. He then pretended to run across the field with an imaginary backpack moving on his shoulders. If the backpack is constantly shifting balance, he said, it is hard for the person running to stay in one balance. The same is true for our horses when we make sudden changes in our balance while riding. Instead, he advocated building a strong lower leg position to anchor a rider, no matter where they are with their upper body. This enables the rider to not have to sit vertically before every galloping jump, and that in turn can be more efficient. Plus, when a rider does need to sit vertically, like before a coffin jump or water complex, it can be done in a fluid motion that keeps the horse and rider in harmony. Leslie too was able to connect for the audience and the riders the importance of combining correct position with correct execution.
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22 Florida Sporthorse Magazine
Horses are only half of the athletic equation Debbie Rodriguez with Natalie DeFee Mendik
Riders tend to their horses’ health and conditioning needs, but they often neglect their own. An overall core fitness program with a cardio component can benefit every rider.
Every rider out there has seen the blitz of equestrian fitness articles in the press within the last few years. But have you really stopped to think about that fact that riders really are athletes? We tend to think only of the health and fitness of our horses, knowing that in order for the horse to stay sound and perform up to standard, the horse needs to be fit for the job, whatever that job may be. Time is spent choosing the best feed and supplements, the best farrier, the best trainer, and the most proven fitness plan for the horse. We know that a fit horse is more likely to stay sound and working over the long term. However, the fitness of the rider is often an overlooked part of the equation. Has your coach ever said ‘sit up straighter,’ ‘shoulders back,’ ‘keep those heels down,’ ‘chest up,’ ‘don’t lean,’ or ‘stay centered’? Do have trouble keeping equal weight in both seat bones, picking up one lead, getting a clean lead change both ways, getting good lateral work or keeping equal weight in both stirrups? Have reached the stage in your life where you have back or hip pain? Do you have past injuries adversely affecting your riding? If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these (and who can’t?!), you will benefit from increased fitness. In short, most riders would benefit from increased fitness. Since many riders are very active and athletic, it may seem odd to think of the need for a specific fitness program. However, repetitive tasks encourage one
sidedness and create stiffness. There is, therefore, a need to perform some type of different exercises to build the body symmetrically, keeping the muscles and joints strong and flexible. There are many different styles of exercise available, such as core fitness, yoga and Pilates. The main thing is to choose a form of exercise that you will actually do regularly. Preferably this should be a type of exercise that builds core strength and develops the range of motion. My personal preference is a core fitness program with aspects of cardio incorporated into the warm-up. I like a work out with a variety of movements that challenge my core strength, balance and mobility. An abs workout leaves me feeling strong, a hip workout makes the sitting trot seem easy, and a shoulder workout improves my posture and reduces the pain resulting from hitting the ground once too often in my life. In my travels as a trainer, clinician and judge, I have heard over and over the litany of excuses like lack of time and access to equipment. Yet I know that time spent increasing fitness is time well spent;
everybody can make fitness a reality if they first choose to make it a priority. Challenge yourself: take the next three months and add a regular fitness program into your daily routine. Stick to it for three months. In that time, you will notice a difference in your posture, range of motion, flexibility, stability, balance and overall comfort. It is no secret why the popular PX90 fitness system chose a ninety-day period to guarantee concrete results! I bet that feeling these changes after just three months will encourage you to make a lifestyle change that incorporates fitness. Your horse will appreciate it. Your friends and trainer will notice it. Your riding will go to the next level. And with any luck, you will look a lot better in your jeans!
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