Page 1

4 From the editor

Three resolutions for the Year of the Horse

Jeff Adams/Digital Pixel

Christie Gold


y the time most readers hold this issue in their hands, resolutions made over midnight sips of champagne will be a distant memory, replaced by bright red heart-shaped boxes of candy and gym equipment gathering dust in the corner. Fortunately, the Chinese New Year begins in February, and since 2014 is the Year of the Horse, it seems appropriate to re-resolve...this time in the name of our horses and for the sake of our riding. Here are a few that most of us can probably agree upon. 1. Treat yourself like an athlete Forget it, you are NEVER going to look great in white breeches. Nobody does. I’m not going to use the ‘D’ word (diet) or the equally horrifying ‘W’ word (weight) because I’ve divorced them both. I’ve spent too much time staring at the dreadful BMI chart in the doctor’s office and eating like a caveman or a French Debutante or stressing over carbs, fat and calories. The fact is that I am more of a Quarter

About the cover

Andalusian P.R.E. stallion, Pecos, owned by Matt McLaughlin. Pecos was trained to Intermediare dressage and was the 2011 Celebration Horse for Breyerfest. Photo by Deirdre Teasley

Horse than a Thoroughbred. I will never be long and lean, but I can be fit, and the formula for that is easy: Eat right and exercise. We horse people painstakingly pour over every aspect of our horses’ diets. Too much fat? Not enough protein? Whole grains or complete feeds? Which supplements? Yet we don’t pay attention to our own nutritional needs. In simple terms, go fresh whenever possible, shop the perimeter at your local grocery and skip the fast food. If you are like me, you probably spend more time in your office cubicle or your car than on the back of a horse. Newsflash: Riding one horse four or five times a week will not keep you fit. Even if you have the privilege of

riding more than this, cross training is important. Greater fitness will get you through all of that sitting trot in your dressage test or around the cross country or stadium course without the need for supplemental oxygen. While this goal requires little more than a good pair of athletic shoes and some hand weights, joining a gym or working with a personal trainer can yield not only physical results but greater insight into our how we condition our horses. Group cycling classes at my local gym remind me of the need to train for stamina as well as strength and the need for “active recovery” (rather than idle rest) during my workout. 2. Be gracious and be grateful “Have an attitude of gratitude” is a nice saying for a bumper sticker,

but it’s the practice of gratitude that’s important. The horse world is full of people who work hard for little or no money. Yes, it’s the stable hand’s job to blanket your horse on a cold day, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need to hear “thank you.” The same goes for our trainers, farriers and vets, the guy who delivers your hay or runs the local feed store. If you want to attract good people, you must be a good person. Paying your board, vet or farrier bill on time; cleaning the wash rack when you are finished grooming your horse; avoiding the temptation to ride your drama llama to the barn ; telling the professionals in your life how much you appreciate them...these are the keys to creating good karma and a happy horse life. 3. Educate yourself. While I’m not a fan of riding with multiple instructors (it’s just too much for my pea brain to process), I am a proponent of lifelong learning. It’s show season in Florida, and opportunities abound. Hanging out at the warm-up ring at a show is often more valuable than seeing an actual performance. Clnics abound, and whether you are a rider or an auditor, there opportunities to hone your skills or increase your knowledge. If leaving home is problematic, switch on your computer. During Florida’s “Bi-polar Vortex,” I dug through USEF’s archives. Stuck inside one day, I found myself watching George Morris’ master clinic. The episode where he tortured…er, asked, the riders to go sans stirrups caught my interest. Too often, I think hunters and dressage riders live in different worlds, but there was Mr. Morris talking about collection, proper bend in the half-pass and fluid flying changes. Fortunately for our horses and ourselves, it’s never too late to make a change. From all of us at Florida Sporthorse, here’s to a healthy and happy 2014.

Visit us on the web! Subscription information ~ Ad rates ~ Submission guidelines

All back issues of Florida Sporthorse available for download from ISSUU.

dressage+hunters+jumpers+eventing+combined driving+sporthorse breeding

Sporthorse Florida

Come along for the ride!

Editor and Publisher Christie R. Gold

Advertising Manager Sara Scozzafava (352) 585-6143

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. “Come along for the ride!”

One powerful force of nutrition. You are in it to win it. And with ProForce™ premium horse feed, you can count on advanced nutrition that delivers championship-caliber results. Each unique new formula combines world-class science, research and technology for unprecedented levels of performance, stamina and recovery. And with features like prebiotics and probiotics, high fat, guaranteed amino acids and organic trace minerals, you can trust Nutrena® to give your horse the focused power to finish (and stay) on top. ©2013 Cargill, Incorporated. All Rights Reserved.



2 3



4 6

7 8

The Faces of Florida Sporthorse

1. Carol Bulmer Since graduating Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Animal Science Carol has pursued a career in the dressage world. First with a 5 year apprenticeship with Dorita Konyot learning to ride and train dressage then with her own training stable. Along the way Carol has earned her United States Dressage Federation Silver Medal by competing successfully through the Intermediare I, achieved her United States Equestrian Federation “R” Technical Delegate license, has been granted a Federation Equestrian International Level 1 Stewards license and is a U.S.D.F. Certified Instructor (Training through Second level) as well a graduate with Distinction from the U.S.E.F. Learner Judges program. 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. Judy Downer, PhD is a USEF “r” dressage judge, coaches the intercollegiate dressage team at the College of Central Florida and an active competitor in dressage. She earned her USDF Gold, Silver and Bronze medal and has several regional championships with multiple horses. Her “day” job is as Professor, Equine Studies at the College of Central Florida in Ocala. She earned a Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition and prior to moving to Florida in 2001, worked in research and development for the veterinary pharmaceutical industry. 4. Karen Abbattista is a USDF Bronze and Silver Medalist, a recipient of the Silver Musical Freestyle Bars, and an USEF Learner Judges Program Graduate with Distinction. Restructured in 2012 from a successful corporate career, Karen decided to follow her heart, choosing a new life helping horses and humans believe in themselves and each other. Based out of RJC Equestrian Centre, she now teaches both Classical and Western Dressage throughout Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties. She continues to

compete both at national and FEI level dressage.

5. Laurie Ann Salmi is a lifelong equestrian with national competition experience in several disciplines. For the past decade, dressage has been the passion, and she currently competes 3rd level. After spending many years teaching in the classroom, she now spends her time raising three energetic boys and coaching other riders part time. 6. Heather Black started riding as a child on the hunter/jumper circuit in Montana. Making the transition to dressage in her late teens, Heather was a working student for dressage judges Sonja Vracko and Anne Gribbons. In the late 1990s, she learned exhibition and haut ecole training as a performer for the touring Lipizzaner Stallion Show. After obtaining her law degree and spending seven years as an analyst in Washington D.C., Heather returned to the horse industry in 2010 when she joined Matt McLaughlin Dressage in Saint Cloud, Florida, as a trainer and business manager. Heather is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist and was a participant in the USDF ‘L’ judge program. 7. Janeane Reagan, PhD acquired her love of horses and equestrian sport while watching her father show American Saddlebreds, Hackneys and jumpers. As an adult, she focused on the Morgan breed and competed with her horses in saddle seat, western pleasure, hunter pleasure, dressage, carriage driving and competitive trail riding. After completing her doctorate in clinical psychology, Janeane developed an interest in sport psychology. In addition to her work with individual riders and drivers, she has presented workshops on stress management during competition and on the mental aspects of equestrian sport to state and local clubs and at national and international equestrian conferences. 8. Lynn Peck, DVM is a holistic veterinarian and dressage enthusiast who combines her love of horses with her interests in clinical research and holistic medicine in her practice, All Holistic Veterinary Care, in Gainesville. She has a master’s degree in equine reproduction physiology, and is certified in Applied Kinesiology and as an instructor in Touch Balancing/Animal Bowen® soft tissue therapy. Her training includes homeopathy, acupuncture, osteopathy, nutrition, color therapy, Acutonics® sound therapy, and other approaches to address root issues underlying her patients’ health or musculoskeletal problems.



LOOK EASY Give your horse the very best with Southern States速

feed products created specifically for the Hard Keeper. Each feed contains the highest quality ingredients and

superior nutrition formulated to help your Hard Keeper safely gain and maintain the ideal weight.



8 8 8 -2 21 - 89 8 7

Southern States速 and Legends 速 are registered trademarks of Southern States Cooperative, Incorporated. Triple Crown 速 is a registered trademark of Triple Crown Nutrition, Incorporated.

Sporthorse FLORIDA


10 22

Inside Florida Sporthorse 4 Editor’s Note Three Resolutions for the Year of the Horse 10 John and Margy Cox Ocala’s CDE and Pleasure Driving Couple

12 14

12 One Smart Cookie Sneak-e-Snacks’ Tina Halsteter and her recipe for success 14 Hometown Hero Sharon Jerdeman on her homebred horses and love of amateurs 18 Walk this Way Practical advice for improving the most basic gait 20 Dare to go There Insights from Kyra Kyrkland’s clinic in Wellington 22 To Regulate or not to Regulate Determining what’s safe begins with understanding regulations 24 Hindquarter Help Hindend weakness is not always from EPM 26 Going Pro Lessons learned in the transition from amateur to professional


28 Gold Rush One rider’s education in the quest for USDF’s highest rider award 22 Imagine That Positive imaging can improve performance


Grace and gratitude characterize Ocala’s combined driving couple

Margy Cox and Andy Go Dandy. With time and patience, the half Arab became a national champion. Photo courtesy of Margy Cox.

Janeane Reagan, PhD


hen I met with Margy and John Cox at Starbucks in Ocala, Margy was her quite composed self and John, outgoing and enthusiastic. In their usual helpful and gracious manner, they had agreed to meet me for this interview the same day in which I had called to make the request. Such a supportive and helpful attitude is typical of this couple who are known throughout the Florida carriage driving community for their elegant, mannerly and successful single carriage driving horses, whether they are competing at a combined driving event (CDE) or a carriage pleasure show.

FS: Margy, how did you get involved with horses? M: I grew up near Seattle, Washington and was a horse crazy kid from the start. I tried it all, Western, English, jumping.

FS: John, how did you get into the world of horses and

competition? J: I married into it and was soon outnumbered when

our daughter got the bug and started into pony club. I did some Arab breed showing, even native costume, as well as jumping, and driving. M: And now he’s my navigator and groom.

FS: When and why did you two get into driving? M: I went to some driving events and saw all kinds

of wrecks and problems. That was back in the ‘80s. I decided I wanted to take on the challenge of doing it well. I like a good challenge. We had bred a halfArab/ half-Percheron named “Pete”. I consulted a local draft horse trainer who taught me how to drive and helped me train Pete. My first vehicle was the manure spreader. We showed him quite successfully in single draft classes because he made the weight requirement which was all the geldings had to do. Papers were traditionally thrown away once a draft horse was gelded. J: In those early days of CDEs we would show up for the event and build the hazards out of bales of hay from the local farmer, set up the dressage ring and cones course, compete all weekend, then tear everything down and go home. It could be exhausting, but fun.

M: During those years we brought in some of the top

driving clinicians like Bill Long and Bill Lower. We had judges like Jill Ryder and Leslie Kozsely. It soon became a family thing with me driving Pete, John driving a Shetland pony, and our daughter, Lindzi, driving the Fjord. Yes, the same Fjord, now 25, that we used when the TV reality show The Bachelor came to our farm here in Florida in October 2011 to film Lindzi’s “at home with the family” segment. (Lindzi, who works in Seattle as an IT recruiter, was one of the two finalists on the 16th season of The Bachelor.)

FS: What brought you all the way from Washington

State to Florida? M: We moved from the Seattle area in 2003 when our 30-stall boarding facility was sold for development. At that time I was selling Glycerin Garden’s Soapie Ponies, the horsey novelty clear soap with a toy horse inside. John was retired by then.  J: We traveled around the USA looking for a place to live.  We stayed in Carmel, California, and competed in some CDE’s in that area for awhile. M: We were going to move to Holland and then we

Florida Sporthorse Magazine 11 planning to go on to Advanced FEI with him? J: No we are not. M: No, we already did that with another horse a few years ago. We even qualified for the World Championships in Europe but that was enough for us. We do it for the fun. I would rather just compete against myself for the most part more than against the other drivers. I get a lot of satisfaction out of driving a smooth marathon without the yelling, just doing it in style, my way.

FS: What are your plans for the future? M: We have a young horse that we have raised. He is

a mixed Warmblood named River Trip. We are just getting him out there to some competitions. Andy can keep doing the higher level stuff.

FS: Margy, to what do you attribute the success you

and John have had with your driving horses? M: I think patience and love have been the key ingredients. We have also had the help of very good friends and clinicians along the way.

FS: Any advice you would like to give to drivers

who are just getting started or who are facing some challenges with their own horses? M: The best advice we could share with drivers just starting out is to be safe and take advantage of the wonderful trainers, organizations and competitions in our area. It also helps to volunteer at driving events and meet new friends and find good mentors.

Margy Cox with husband John as navigator. Along with their daughter, Lindzi, they have made driving a family affair. Photo courtesy of Margy Cox. discovered Black Prong Equestrian Center, a carriage driving facility in Bronson that was the perfect fit for our life style. Our farm, near Black Prong, borders on The Goethe Forrest so we have miles of trails right out our back gate.

FS: I have heard that the elegant half-Arab/half-

Saddlebred that you have been showing in recent years had quite a history. M: That’s “Andy,” he was a freebee horse. His owner had given him away three times prior to our taking him. He had been given back all three times. Andy had some tough issues. You could not catch him in the pasture, could not walk up on his right side, could not put a bit in his mouth, and he spooked at everything. At the end of a year of trying to win his confidence, we were about ready to send him back too, but I just could not do that to an animal I had made a commitment to. J: At that point we had tried everything including

acupuncture and chiropractic treatments. M: Then he colicked and we almost lost him. With the help of our vet, Dr. Ann Christorpherson, we stayed with Andy day and night until he got through it. When he recovered he was a different horse. Now he knickers when he sees us coming, comes when he is called, and loves to work, particularly in hazards. Andy has given us some of our most memorable accomplishments in driving. In 2013 he was National Champion Half Arabian Sport Horse at the Arabian Nationals. That same year he won the Florida State Pleasure Driving Championship which is based on performances across three different carriage pleasure shows. The other exciting success with Andy was when we won the Intermediate Level Marathon at Live Oak CDE in the spring of 2012.

FS: You have brought Andy along so far, are you

Taking your equine athlete to the next level! Body balancing Pressure point therapy Massage Kinesiology Muscle Release with a Gentle Natural Body Alignment

Kit: 602-361-9740 Kel: 602-618-9562

12 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

One Smart Cookie

Sneak-e-Snacks’ Tina Halsteter treats horses naturally Christie Gold


he recipe for success calls for one part vision, one part opportunity and heaping measures of passion and hard work. Helpful and hardworking family and friends, strict quality control and word-of-mouth recommendations from a host of veterinarians, trainers, riders and tack shop owners are also key ingredients for Sneak-e-Snacks, a brand of allnatural horse treats baked every day in the heart of Ocala’s horse country. Owner Tina Halsteter’s belief that the wholesome treats, once baked in muffin tins in founder Jennifer Hall’s oven, led to the purchase of the recipe and brand in 2009. Hall had branded Sneak E Snacks but wasn’t interested in developing it into a business. Halsteter, who worked as Hall’s personal assistant, saw possibility in the product, which is now sold online and in 20 retail outlets. In a field crowded with competition –mostly from big-name feed suppliers, Halsteter has carved a niche among horse people who demand fresh, all natural ingredients. Her high standards for quality control are evident her product’s ongoing analysis.



Halsteter follows national agricultural guidelines for pet foods and treats and is attentive to each state’s individual regulations. The discovery that some ingredients in the original formula could mask the use of drugs that are illegal at competitions led to the development of a show safe alternative, and requests from both horse owners and veterinarians are leading to a new insulin- resistant formula. Quality control is key in the production of Sneak-e-Snacks. “We’re fresh and all natural. I buy the best premium quality products and put them into the treat. We self-regulate so that the consumer knows that what they are getting is consistent from batch to batch,” Halsteter said. Rigorous attention to detail consumes much of Halteter’s time. Her daughter helps after school, and her husband, who works full time for Closet Maid, pitches in after work and on weekends. With additional assistance from one part-time employee, the Halteters bake, package and distribute 18,000 treats each week. The ovens begin rolling at five a.m. Halsteter pulls orders off of the web, determines what needs to be delivered, returns phone calls and works on expanding her marketing efforts.

Sneak-e-Snacks owner Tina Halsteter with the product line. The all-natural horse treats are gaining popularity nationwide. Photos courtesy of Tina Halsteter. “When I started, I would receive 10 rejections for every one store that would agree to carry the treats,” she said. “Now people come to me.” Despite a new website and increased marketing, passing out samples is still the way to horses’—and their owners’—hearts. Early on, Halsteter made connections with local vets and popular trainers and clinicians such as Lynn Palm and Pat Parelli. Horse people come to Ocala with their horses, discover Sneak-e-Snacks and return home with buckets of the treats to share with fellow equestrians creating residual business that has led to out of state sales of 30-40 percent. Halsteter also looks for creative ways to increase awareness of her product. Two years ago, Sneak-eSnacks became the official fundraiser of the United States Pony Clubs. Just as Girl Scouts bank on boxes of Thin Mints and Tagalongs, Halsteter sees Pony Club members earning funds through sales of horse cookies. This ideas has expanded to other equine groups. The Central Florida Equestrian Team and other groups have also started selling Sneak-eSnacks as part of their fundraising efforts. As the business grows, Halsteter hopes to create “Destination Sneak-e-Snacks.” “January 2014 was our best month yet,” Halsteter said, “and this year will be pivotal.” Currently, the family home and garage-turnedbakery hold inventory and the commercial ovens. Success has caused growing pains—and not just in terms of available square footage. While horses and their owners may love the smell of molasses and whole grains wafting through the air, Halsteter admits that not everyone in her suburban neighborhood

finds the scent appealing. She wants to relocate to a farm closer to HITS with six times the space, different zoning and proximity to the active winter show circuit. “To move forward, we need to be close to likeminded people. We want to continue to diversify and to integrate the snacks more fully into the horse world,” she said. Halsteter’s motto is to “dream big and aim high” without losing local connection. She works closely with the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association, Williston Animal Rescue and Paso Fino Youth. She actively participates in the Ocala community, buying as many local ingredients as possible and personally visiting tack and feed stores in the area. “I’m blessed, and I love my job. I am happy that we are starting to see such success, but I also want to be a brand that leaves a legacy, something my children will be proud of.”

MW Feinermark

MW Feinermark

2010 Premium GOV Colt

Fidertanz x Flemmingh x Rohdiamant x Zeus x Kronprinz xx 2011 USDF GOV Horse of the Year Yearling Colt 2011 NEDA Year End Grand Champion Yearling 2012 USDF & GOV Horse Of the Year 2yo Colts 2013 USDF & GOV Horse Of the Year 3 yo Colt 2013 GOV 3 yo Colt Materiale National Champion

Maplewood Warmbloods

“Breeding & Training the Future’s Champions”

Jen Vanover 460 Bart Bull Rd. Middletown, NY 10941 (845)649-7160

14 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Hometown Hero

Florida native Sharon Jerdeman serves as a shining example for her students Carol Bulmer


he sun was shining on the outdoor arena at Canterbury Showplace where we all watched the big mare power around the second level test guided by a rider who, although slight in stature, held a strong, effective posture with complete command of the XXL horse she was riding. Then the crupper popped off. The mare screeched to a halt and stood stock still, clamping her tail tightly to her hindquarters as the crupper dangled like an ornament from the tailhead. The rider glanced back, assessed the problem, dismounted, stripped the crupper down and off the tail then tossed it out of the ring. She walked back to the shoulder of the still obediently standing mare, threw her foot up to her eye level and into the stirrup then climbed back on board to resume her ride while the rest of us just gaped in astonishment and admiration: grace under pressure with a large helping of down to earth pragmatism and get-it-done attitude. This is what Sharon Jerdeman-Bates is all about. A Florida native born in Stuart (where her parents still reside in the family home) Jerdeman had her first pony ride at the age of three, her first lessons by a demanding hunter-jumper instructor at 10, her first dressage skills at 16 years and then a successful 25 yearlong professional training career all unfolded here in Florida, except for a year in Germany that put a gleam on an already well-polished education. Jerdeman originally had no intention of being a professional dressage trainer. “The only reason I ever went to Germany was to learn how to train a horse because I could not foresee ever having enough money to buy a trained horse. I did not think I was going to be a professional,” she said. “So when people started offering to pay me to train their horse I said, ‘Okay, I will do this until they stop wanting to pay me for training their horse.’ Twenty years later I’m still doing it. I didn’t expect that. It was not my life plan. If it were my life plan I would have stayed with that first working student job.” Jerdeman’s first working student job was with the renowned dressage trainer Alex Konyot. When the 16-year-old Jerdeman decided to work in the mall instead of more time with Alex Konyot, his wife Fina Konyot told her, “You do not know what you are getting” (riding FEI school masters that know levade with Konyot). Jerdeman continued to ride as a hobby while she pursued an education in art. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Her skills came in handy when her custom horse portraits helped to support her while studying dressage in Herbert Rehbein’s barn in Germany. Jerdeman hopes to get back into her Art eventually. Talented riders are not always talented teachers, yet Jerdeman’s track record with successful Amateurs equals if not exceeds her success with FEI horses. To date, six students have earned their USDF Bronze

Renee Gentner and Sharon Jerdeman at the USDF Region 3 Championships. Gentner and her horse Tomson were the Second Level Freestyle Champions and went on to compete at the National Finals. Rider Medal and five have earned their USDF Silver Rider Medal under Jerdeman’s coaching. Amy Nannick, owner of Skywalker, earned her USDF Bronze Rider Medal with Jerdeman’s guidence. Kris Kuchinski Broome, a Jerdeman student of 15 years, stood sixth with a 64 percent at AA PSG Championships at the 2013 Region 3 Championships with her self- trained Lauren FS. Riding her second horse, Nightlife, at the same championships, Broome took eighth in Third Level Freestyle. Renee Genther has also been a Jerdeman student of 15 years. Genter won the Region 3 Second Level

Freestyle Championship and went on the next month to compete at the Inaugural USDF National Championships placing 10th nationally at second Level AA Freestyle. What makes her successful with the many amateurs riding the different levels of training and different breeds of horses? “First I identify the goals. If they have lofty goals such as an amateur with a young horse who wants to do the work herself, go to the show and get high scores I put the pair in full training. It takes a year. I ride the horse first part of the year and then I start putting her on the horse and then she turns into the primary rider. This requires

Florida Sporthorse Magazine 15


Dana Rasmussen


Equine Media Project

Sharon’s Success Stories 1. Charleston out of Hannah (of the notable crupper incident) by Navarone breeder Sharon Jerdeman Bates. 2. Nautika bred by Pat Sullivan of Gainesville, by LeSanto out of Britannia by Rantares. The mare progressed from Training Level to Grand Prix and was Jerdeman’s first self-trained Grand Prix horse. 3. Falconer, bred by Masu Hammacher was bought by Jerdeman as a three-month-old and is now showing PSG and schooling Grand Prix

2 Horse Sports Photography

4. Skywalker, a gelding out of Ladyhawke (a brood mare owned by Masu Hammocker) is shown here as a yearling and then as an adult, competing in the Region 3 Championships with Jerdeman. 5. Jerdeman’s up and coming young horse, 6-year-old Dutelmi SCF a  Dutch Warmblood mare by Sir Donnerhall out of Otelmi by Jazz.   Bred in the USA by Lana Sneddon of Stonecrest Farm, Jerdeman purchased her as a weanling.  


Horse Sports Photography


Michael Bradtke

a rider who already has some riding skill,“ Jerdeman said. Jerdeman works on the basic riding skills of the amateur riders in her care first. She uses the Training Scale principles in her teaching every day until the rider is competent with those basics. Then she will focus on the skills needed to compete well. Again, short-term goal setting is crucial to the success of the team. Jerdeman expects her students to be very selfsufficient at shows. They do their own entries, shipping, feeding, stall mucking and braiding. She believes that to be successful, the amateur has to have a positive attitude even when things are not going the way they like. Athleticism is secondary to the desire to learn and being positive. Jerdeman observes that teaching amateurs requires “a lot of patience.” “I repeat myself a lot,” she said. Her passion for teaching amateurs is evident. “There is nothing better than to see someone get better or have that light bulb moment. It really makes you feel successful. Almost more successful than if you were doing it yourself.“ In regards to her system of training horses Jerdeman said, “I got a feeling for the system of training there (in Germany) and what I should be aspiring to. Going to Mr. Rehbein’s stable and watching the riders from all over the world prepare for the Olympics that year was a once-in- a-lifetime experience. You could see all levels of horses schooling in the same ring and get a feel for how training starts and how it develops with many different horses.” Jerdeman listed the pivotal points in her own education. First is her hunter jumper instructor who made her work without stirrups at age 10, then Alex Konyot who introduced dressage training to her, then her year in Germany with Frank Agne, student of Herbert Rehbein. Since then, Jos Severiens, who taught her how to ride a horse’s back “up, round and through,” as well as Gunner Ostergaard who brought her to Grand Prix and of course the inimitable horsewoman, Jennie Loriston Clark with whom she continues to clinic annually. “If there is one theme to my career I would say that I am focused on progress. The progress of the horse with consideration of any physical challenges the horse may have and the progress of the student as long as the student has the willingness to learn.” Jerdeman warns against the “win at all cost” trap that many ambitious trainers and riders fall into. She finds the way to make progress without ultimately destructive methods that eventually harm the horse. “It just takes longer, but it is better for the horse in the long run” Jerdeman said. Alternately, she says that any student who is not ready or willing to learn will not learn no matter how diligent the teacher. “Years after riding with an instructor, even 30 years later,the things I felt and did come back to me. ‘Oh that’s what that meant!’ I think to myself. The best thing a student can do is to learn to take criticism with a positive attitude. That is one good thing about getting a college degree. You learn to receive criticism and grow,” she said. As Jerdeman’s business has grown, she has tempered the growth with a balance between her

family, her husband and her farm. The barn is small-just eight stalls so that if her barn help does not show up she can still do all work by herself. Her husband of eight years, JB, has his own business and Jerdeman does not expect his assistance in the day-to-day operations. That said JB built the barn, the above barn residence and serves as facility maintenance honcho for the 15-acre farm in Reddick. Free time is spent scalloping, water skiing, wake boarding and even snow skiing from as well as spending time with her sisters, nieces and parents. The next 10 years Jerdeman has two career goals: Train more horses to Grand Prix and train and show a CDI quality horse. The short-term goal setting is important to Jerdeman for the long-term progress. History has proven that this rider will stand the test of time.

Standing ringside with her will be Jerdeman’s hometown students and Central Florida admirers cheering on this hardworking Hometown Hero and her Homebred Horses. Kris Kuchinski Broome, Her student of 15 years said, “We could not ask for a better role model.”


Writer/Reporter needed to cover hunter/jumper and combined training. For more information:

Quality You Can Count On! • Super Premium Equine Feeds • Low-Starch • For All Life Stages

“World’s Best Equine Feed”


OFF Limit 2 Bags


16 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Limit 1 coupon per customer. Limit 2 bags per coupon. Coupon Expires: May 31, 2014

CUSTOMER: Redeem coupon at your nearest Authorized Seminole Feed® Dealer. Receive $5 off any two bags of Seminole Wellness®. Limit one coupon per customer per visit. Coupon not valid with any other offer. Reproduction of this coupon is prohibited and constitutes fraud. RETAILER: Please ensure this coupon is authentic and has not been duplicated or reproduced. Credit will not be given for reproduced coupons submitted for reimbursement. Seminole Feed® will reimburse Authorized Seminole Feed® Dealers for the amount of the coupon. For reimbursement, mail to Seminole Feed®, P.O. Box 940, Ocala, FL 34478. Reproduction of this coupon is prohibited and constitutes fraud.

Immar Arabians

Standing multi-champion main ring halter stallion IMMAR

• 2014 breedings now available • Two 2014 IMMAR foals for consideration • A family-owned and operated farm in Brooksville, FL • Full and pasture board available

Immar Arabians o Todd, Challice & Neveah o o 352-584-7864

Immar Arabians, LLC

18 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Walk this Way

Improve this overlooked but tell-tale gait

Amber Kimball


he walk is easy to take for granted. It’s slow and unassuming. It’s the first gait we feel when we learn to ride. Soon after learning to sit astride the horse, we want to go faster and ride more seemingly difficult exercises. This desire to master the trot and canter movements stays with us for our entire riding career but the walk shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored. The most obvious reason to pay attention to the walk is the fact that in every dressage test from training level to Grand Prix, the walk is scored. Ignoring the walk could cause the horse and rider to have lower scores and place lower in the ribbons. More importantly though, the quality of the walk will most often mirror the horse’s state of relaxation. If there are low walk scores in your tests, it’s wise to take a closer look at your training program. The walk is a four beat gait with no moment of suspension. The horse repeats a pattern of footfalls that are evenly spaced in time. That means that if you were to lead a horse in walk a horse across a hard surface, ideally, you would hear a steady one-twothree-four beat with no long pauses between any of the foot falls. Viewed from the side, you would see that each foot rises off of the ground separately. Starting with the left hind leg, the pattern would go left hind, left fore, right hind, right fore, left hind, left fore and so on. You would see that the hind foot comes very close to the fore foot as it is landing, the legs on the same side form a “V” shape as they get closer together. The fore foot moves off the ground just in time for the hind foot to land. In a good, unrestricted walk, the hind foot will land in front of the print of the front foot. This is referred to as over-tracking or over stepping. Most horses have no problem demonstrating this while walking down the barn aisle. Problems mostly arise when humans saddle them up and head to the arena. Trouble is underway when the walk starts to lose the clear, four beat rhythm. Viewed from the side, the legs lose the “V” pattern. Instead of each leg leaving the ground separately, the legs on each side start to lift off of the ground closer to the same time. When this happens, it’s called a lateral walk. In an extremely lateral walk, the legs on the left will rise and land at the same time then the legs on the right will rise and land together. This is also referred to as a pace. The lateral walk is mostly rider created. It does happen, rarely, that one comes across a horse that happily paces across his paddock on his own. Mostly though, the lateral walk is only seen when the rider sits on the horse and picks up the reins. Another way the walk can lose correct rhythm is commonly referred to as jigging. Jigging is when a horse starts to bring the legs together diagonally, as if starting to trot. Sometimes the jig is a messy mix up of beats, sometimes it’s simply a very flat, short trot. Jigging is usually caused by anticipation and is often

Petra, ridden by Sandy Wagner, demonstrates a good four beat walk. The legs make a “V” pattern as the front foot leaves the ground and the hind foot lands. All photos by Amber Kimball. seen in dressage tests when the horse is thinking he may need to trot or canter soon. Regardless of the type of rhythm loss the horse may exhibit, the underlying cause of walk issues is usually tension. The best walk the horse will ever have under saddle is on a completely loose rein when he is in total relaxation. This is most evident if you watch some tests at a show. During a test, a horse might show some rhythm issues in the medium and collected walks when the pressure of the competition is high. At the end of the test though, when the rider pats the horse and walks out of the ring on a loose rein, the horse will often demonstrate a beautiful, rhythmic, energetic walk. When riding a horse which exhibits rhythm



issues in the walk, it is very helpful to know in which portion of the ride he typically has the most relaxation. This is the time to work on the walk. If the horse comes out of the stable with a lot of energy and tension, walk on a totally loose rein until it’s time to trot. If he is very nervous, it’s better to go straight into the trot or to lunge him, rather than to wrestle with him in the walk on contact. Once his energy level has subsided, you can begin to work on the walk. Other horses, however, are more like wind-up

toys. They come out of the stable relaxed, even lazy, but the energy builds in them as the work progresses and they can end up with more tension later on. For these horses, the best time to work in the walk is at the start of the ride when they are calm and relaxed. One of the easiest ways to help the rhythm is to walk over a series of evenly spaced poles. I like to keep walk poles set up on the outside of the arena for the horses to step over when they are cooling out or warming up. The poles encourage the horse to lift each hoof separately so he maintains the clear four beat rhythm. Start with just one pole until the horse has no reservations about stepping over it. Evenly space four to six jump poles or landscape timbers on the ground, just under three feet apart. Once the horse walks over the poles once or twice you can see how you need to adjust the spacing to suit the horse’s natural stride length. Walk over the poles a couple times on a loose rein. When he’s relaxed and ready, ask the horse to step over the poles while you maintain good soft, light contact on the reins. Encourage the horse to step forward into the bridle while he goes over the poles. To help the horse understand how maintain clear rhythm between transitions, you can trot or canter until you are close to the poles. Make sure you have a good, balanced approach to the middle of the line of poles then do a transition to the walk just before you reach the poles. Walk over the poles on contact, then, when you reach the other side make a transition back into trot or canter. This helps the horse maintain rhythm without a lot of effort from the rider.

Florida Sporthorse Magazine 19

Improving the walk

Tension in the horse and rider have created a lateral walk. The front and hind hooves on the left side are landing almost at the same time.

Stepping over poles, the horse is encouraged to lift each foot separately to produce a four beat walk. The “V” pattern is seen as the horse moves over the rails.

Work over poles has encouraged the horse to maintain relaxation and rhythm and the rider can now maintain it in the arena.

Sometimes, a horse’s walk issues only arise for the first three or five strides after the rider picks up the reins because the horse is anticipating the work ahead. To help ease the tension caused by anticipation, practice carefully picking up the reins, walking on contact for a few strides then while you encourage the horse to stretch forward into the contact and then releasing the reins again to let the horse walk on the buckle. Only do this while the horse in a relaxed state as working on the walk while the horse is tense only exacerbates rhythm issues. The rider must be confident. Be sure not to transfer your own

insecurities to the horse. The rider must be consistent in the contact. Reins that are too tight are restricting and uncomfortable for the horse. However, trying to be too light can be irritating to the horse as he never knows if the bit pressure will be on his mouth or if the reins will be loose. Consistency is the key. The easiest walk issue to remedy is the lazy walk. A horse which demonstrates a clear four beat walk but simply lacks impulsion can be sparked up quite easily. One of the best ways to energize the walk is to get out of the ring. Hacking, especially in company, livens up most horses. Long, brisk walks on a loose rein help the horse to walk forward freely on his own

accord. Remember the energy you feel in the walk when you turn your horse around and head back to the barn. Ride the walk in the ring so it feels as if your horse has a destination in mind and he’d like to take you there. If a horse is behind the leg in the walk, he likely needs to be sharper to the leg in the other gaits too. The walk is a tattletale. When issues arise in the walk, there is likely an underlying problem in the rest of the work as well. Use the walk as a test of your horse’s basic training. It just might bring you a blue ribbon.

All Holistic Veterinary Care, PA

Lynn S. Peck, DVM, MS

“Performance Improvement”

Subtle Lameness/Chronic Pain

Neuromuscular Weakness

Back Pain/Movement Problems Metabolic Issues





Holistic Therapies for Sport Horses Animal Bowen Therapy Certified in Applied Kinesiology Gainesville-Ocala; Trips to Tallahassee, JAX, Wellington


20 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Kyra Kyrkland shares her with and wisdom at the Wellington Classic Dressage Masters Symposium

DARE to go THERE Laurie Salmi


recently checked an item off my Bucket List. Seeing Kyra Kyrklund ‘live’ in a clinic situation has always been something I wanted to do, and she did not disappoint. Cheeky, funny, practical and humble describe this amazing master of dressage. It was a difficult choice (after going through my pages and pages of notes) to condense the information for an article, so I’ve compiled a list of her best tips that can apply to us all. Although they are in no particular order, they build on each other, much like ingredients in a recipe, improving the horse’s ability to carry himself thus increasing collection. At the beginning of the first day, Kyra spent a few moments speaking with (and I say ‘with’ because I truly felt like it was a conversation not a lecture) the audience and outlining her plans for the two-day experience. She explained that a clinic situation is difficult sometimes because she cannot address every problem or issue for each rider so she must choose one weak area. After evaluating the riders ahead of time, she chose a theme for the clinic and identified a weakness in each horse/rider combo that she wanted to tackle. Comparing horse training to baking, Kyra spoke of required ingredients and optional variables and how the results can be different but still tasty. The recipe for the weekend was improving collection and the menu was a la carte.

Lower Leg Near the Girth

Every rider in the clinic heard this. This suggestion by itself can be misleading. The leg arrives there not by bracing, pushing or shoving your heel down. Kyra explained that the rider needs to draw the entire leg forward from the hip area. The famed Shoulder/Hip/Heel line we have heard forever is interpreted by Kyra as the front hip bone, not the side joint. If you sit in this alignment your leg falls into position right behind the girth. Another analogy to help the understanding of this concept and encourage riders to not fall forward was to ‘sit behind your knee.’ Kyra explained that when your lower leg drifts back several things happen but specifically you fall forward with your upper body and you cue the horse

too far back with your lower leg. If one is constantly aiding the horse so far back, Kyra feels that the result is speeding up the hind end without lifting the back and lightening the front end. She explained a ‘sweet spot’ right behind the girth which is basically the midpoint of the underline. To create an Arched Bridge instead of a Hanging Bridge (referencing the horse’s back) the leg aids are most effective here. In this position, the rider is able to “influence” (a term heard throughout the weekend) both the front end and hind end. Most horses in the clinic had active hind legs but slow front legs. Kyra’s wish is that the horse has an active and light front end and a reaching hind end which can only be achieved when the back lifts and makes room for the hind legs to come forward. “The front legs are the transmission and the hind legs are the motor,” she said. The leg aid she prefers and describes is nothing more than a ‘tapping’ of the rider’s leg just below the knee--not the heel, rather the inside of the upper third of the boot. Leg aids must go on and off and it is important to give the horse a chance to respond to the aid. If the horse didn’t respond to the leg aid, she gave swift taps of the leg or whip. On one horse, she had the rider remov her whole leg as a warning and then applied a light aid. This was particularly effective for this horse. Use of the spur ‘is only a reminder’ and continued squeezing was discouraged as Kyra feels it makes horses stop listening. She suggested to riders who practiced at home without an instructor to ask someone to be eyes on the ground reminding them to sit correctly.

Rein Aids

Much time was spent explaining the subtleties of reins and how to use them to one’s best advantage. Kyra’s explanation of how to use the reins properly improved everyone’s contact. Describing the rein as a stick, for example, gave riders a concrete example of how contact must be consistent. She described how the hand is only a ‘hook’ connecting the rider’s elbow to the horse’s mouth. Fiddling fingers and a loose grip will compromise the integrity of the contact. She told riders to ‘feel the contact in the elbow’ and to ‘activate the rein aid from the elbow’. When

the horse would lean on contact, she instructed riders to ‘resist in the elbow’ not take back. At this point she mentioned core strength and how increasing our ‘bear down’ or core strength allows riders the ability to resist the pull/lean of the horse without drawing back with the arms or creating a tug-of-war. She strongly insisted that this be done without squeezing or gripping the leg and that the horse must balance himself in contact. A very powerful analogy Kyra gave is that the rider is a girth and the arms are like sidereins. “Let the horse pull against himself,” she said.

A Bouncing Bum

Our bum is a cushion, Kyra explained...bounce on it. This was the main analogy given to riders while sitting the trot. The bounce helps control the tempo of the trot. Quicker bounces = quicker steps. If the rider squeezes or grips the leg to increase tempo, their seat risks coming out of the saddle therefor not being able to ‘influence’ the tempo. Once the horse changes the tempo to the rider’s liking- the rider sits quietly. This became very important when she worked on passage and piaffe- the horse must do the work while the rider sits on top. Kyra explained sitting the trot should be like bouncing/dribbling a ball: The hand can increase or decrease the tempo at the top of the bounce but doesn’t need a lot of force. The rider lightly pushes the ball back down.

A Buffet of Rein Positions

The double bridle is a complicated device to be sure. Watching Kyra ride one horse in all possible combinations was amazing. Her preferred position is with the bradoon rein on top and curb on the bottom or ‘uncrossed.’ The more distance between the reins makes the effect of the bits more clear. If the horse elevates his head, the curb engages and if the horse’s head drops

too low the bradoon engages. ‘Crossing’ the reins engages both bits offering less relief to the horse. She also demonstrated the 3 + 1 which is when the rider carries one bradoon and both curb reins in one hand and only the bradoon rein in the other. This was very effective when Kyra was schooling positioning for the piourette. She had three reins in the inside hand and one in the outside hand allowing her to half halt with the outside rein using the bradoon alone. This position also increases the stability of the curb rein and allows the rider to use the bradoon on the horse’s hard side (Kyra encourages lots of half halts and leg aids on the horse’s hard side which gets the horse to commit to the inside rein). On one horse, Kyra rode with the Fillis Position of the double. The bradoon rein comes over the top of the fingers like a driving rein with the curb under the hand. This was very effective for this horse as the mare was both strong in the mouth and also resistant to contact. ‘She’s not lazy, she just doesn’t want to change,’ was Kyra’s observation of this particular horse. Regardless of the horse’s head position, the

appropriate bit action was instant. It was in this lesson that Kyra said to ride the horse in the bit or bits that work best and that riders need to learn how to ride in a double bridle. Kyra also noted that the Fillis position helps lighten the front end and soften the underside of the neck. Several times she mentioned the concept of ‘imagine the rein around the horse’s neck’ to further illustrate lifting the front end.

A Word (or several) about Contact

Do not compromise contact (my new mantra). Dare to meet your horse at contact and stay there! As mentioned earlier, a fiddling hand or weak wrist will compromise the contact. “Keep your hands still” was a comment repeated several times. For riders who struggled with this, Kyra had several exercises to help riders find a quiet, consistent contact. One suggestion was to hold the whip horizontally over the top of the hands holding the whip with the thumbs. This way, the rider couldn’t pull back or give away one rein only. Another suggestion was to bridge the reins. This suggestion helps steady the hand but is also especially good to help the rider determine which side of the horse won’t go into contact. Kyra explained that contact needn’t be heavy; rather, light contact is desirable. The horse should carry himself rather than the

Florida Sporthorse Magazine 21 rider holding the horse up, just as the horse should carry the forward without the rider pushing every stride.

Keep the Horse Upright

Straightness was a common thread in the sessions. Besides the obvious concept of straightness-the horse traveling straight head to tail, the horse using both sides of the body equally, equal contact in both reins indicating straightness, the rider sitting straight or evenly on the horse- straightness also means that the horse is upright in his rib cage and not leaning in or tipping over. Kyra noted that horses are very good at physical compensation. It is the rider’s responsibility to identify the weak side of the horse and methodically increase their strength. When she was riding the horses, she held the desired position just past the point of comfort, then she rode forward or had a walk break or did a stretchy circle. She was quick with praise for both horse and rider. She insisted that riders not ‘drift into the horse’s weakness but stay on top’ and have the horse meet the rider.

Final Thoughts and Tasty Bites

Kyra explained it’s best to carry the whip in the outside hand in the canter so as not to confuse a horse that already knows changes and because the outside hind leg is the first step of the canter. Kyra mentioned that a good indication of one’s achievement/readiness of a level is their average percentage of the combined scores. She discussed analyzing scores as a way to identify weaknesses and strengths. Kyra described ‘feel’ as a sense much like sight or sound and that it can be developed. She encouraged riders to ride many horses or school master types as possible so that they can ‘taste’ the correct feeling. “When riders feel a big difference, they will get hooked on the change,” she said. She challenged riders. “Don’t be afraid of things going wrong- it happens to everyone!” she said. It’s at this point that improvement or change takes place. When we as riders ‘dare to go to the difficult places’ we rely less on luck and more on our ability because we are confident that we are effective.

SADDLERY Kim Benson Sales & Consignment


• fittings • adjustments • flocking Serving Denver, CO & Ocala, FL

22 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

To regulate or not to regulate Determining the safety and effectiveness of products begins with an understanding of how they are regulated Judy Downer, PhD


eeping our competitive sport horses in top condition requires a myriad of products. Some are traditional nutrients, like protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, provided mainly by the forage and grain supplements given daily. Others are nutraceuticals or dietary supplements, provided according to the horse’s need and what our checkbook can afford. Some are traditional drugs, prescribed by our veterinarian and administered orally or via injection. Finally, some are complex in classification, such as generics or compounded drugs. Gaining an understanding of the regulatory world of these helpful compounds can help the horse owner utilize effective products and avoid using unsafe or illegal products. A warning however; the regulatory world of animal products is always a good cure for insomnia, so get a cup of strong coffee as we proceed!

What is a “drug”?

Any compound that “treats, cures, mitigates or prevents disease” is a drug, as defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is not the route of administration that defines a drug, but the labeling and promotional literature produced to support the compound. “Alleviates pain associated with osteoarthritis” is a drug claim, so therefore, the compound is a drug, regardless if it is administered orally, intramuscularly or topically. All drugs must be approved by the FDA after undergoing extensive testing for target animal safety, efficacy, toxicology, manufacturing safety and stability of the formulated product. If the product is administered to food producing animals, extensive testing is also performed to ensure there are no harmful residues or metabolites of the compound in edible tissues. But since we do not eat horses in the US, equine drugs are not required to undergo this step. Testing to obtain FDA approval of a new animal drug runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes more. Once approved, the labeling and packaging will clearly indicate the product is FDA approved by having a “NADA” number, indicating it is a new animal drug. A freedom of information summary is

also published and included in the package, listing the results of the regulatory testing and instructing how to use the product safely and effectively. Very old compounds, that have years and years of safe and effective use, may be classified as “Generally Recognized as Safe” or GRAS. These compounds do not need to undergo FDA testing and obtain a NADA. They can be formulated into products for animal (or human) use. Examples of GRAS compounds are aspirin, vitamins and corn syrup.

What about vaccines?

In the US, vaccines (and related biological, such as diagnostic kits like the IgG kit used with newborn foals to test for adequate maternal transfer of antibodies) are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They undergo similar testing as animal drugs. In the rest of the world, the same agency that regulates animal drugs includes biologics. Each country has its own regulatory agency, but an agreement was reached in the 90’s between the US, Japan, Australia, Canada and the European Union to accept research performed in any of these countries as mutually acceptable. This should have reduced the cost of testing and registering new animal drugs; however, the regulatory standards have increased, negating the cost benefit of harmonization.

What is a generic drug?

A generic drug is an identical copy of the active ingredient of an previously approved drug (pioneer drug). This is only permitted when the pioneer drug is off patent. Studies are performed to ensure the generic performs identically to the pioneer (blood pharmacokinetic or animal efficacy) and only minor changes to the inactive ingredients in the formulation are permitted. Once approved, the labeling and packaging of a generic drug contains a “ANADA” number, or abbreviated new animal drug application. The generic must be administered identically to the pioneer. Consumers can rest assured that a true generic drug will work identically to the pioneer drug. The makers of Adequan® are correct when they say “there is no generic Adequan”. What is marketed

as a competitive product to Adequan is labeled as a topical product, even though it is packaged in a vial for injection.

What is the risk of using an unapproved animal drug?

The worst case scenario is damage to the horse due to lack of safety testing. The active ingredient could be over supplied, creating a toxicity. A contaminant in the inert ingredients might be infectious or damaging. Even if safety is not an issue, lost money and time is a problem if the unapproved drug is not even effective. All of these scenarios have occurred with unapproved animal drugs in the marketplace.

What are compounded products?

Sometimes, a veterinarian wants to use a drug that is not approved for equine use. Perhaps it is a human drug. Sometimes the veterinarian would prefer a different formulation of an approved drug, or a different concentration of active ingredient Under these conditions, the veterinarian instructs a compounding pharmacy to prepare a product for a specific horse. Generally, compounded products should not be prepared in large quantities for future sales, however, the FDA has not been strict about enforcing this aspect of the compounding laws. Pergolide (for Cushings Disease) is an example of this last point, at least until an approved equine drug containing pergolide was put on the market. Taking unformulated omeprazole and creating a paste for oral administration to horses is NOT a legal action for a veterinarian or a compounding laboratory, since there is an approved animal drug containing this active ingredient in a paste formulation for treatment of equine ulcers. The key to compounded products is the veterinarian/patient relationship; one to one, not one to many. Under a similar veterinarian/patient relationship, animal drugs approved outside the US (but not here) may be imported legally, provided the veterinarian feels the imported drug will do better than any drug available here.

What are dietary supplements?

In the 80’s, Congress passed the Dietary

Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which opened the gates for over-the-counter sales of oral compounds for improved health for humans. Some restrictions applied (no drug claims for one), but basically DSHEA created a free-for-all that now takes up tremendous shelf space in pharmacies and health stores. DSHEA was never intended to apply to animals, because animals cannot make a choice about dietary supplements. However, as we all know, hundreds of products are now sold for animal use. In the absence of any manufacturing quality standards to ensure that what is on the label actually appears in the product, this market becomes a “buyer beware”.

A study reported that 39% of equine joint health products contain less than the labeled amount of active ingredients, and that 17.4% of them contained less than 30% of label claim (Oke, et al., Eq Vet J, 2006: 38(1): 93-95). A voluntary organization (National Animal Supplement Council) was formed to ensure manufacturing quality and animal safety of dietary supplements. A gold logo is displayed on the label of products that have met this voluntary standard. Sometimes, the active ingredient of a dietary supplement is very similar to that of a drug (chondroitin sulfate is contained in most dietary supplements for joint health and a derivative of chondroitin sulfate is the active ingredient in Adequan®). While they are administered via different routes (oral versus IM), Adequan can make a drug claim while the dietary supplements cannot. In light of the absence of regulatory control over dietary supplements, how can a consumer choose an effective product? Ask for data using their formulated product. Ask for a certificate of analysis of their formulated product (not the raw materials used to make their


Florida Sporthorse Magazine 23 product). Look for the NASC logo. Finally, use dietary supplements judiciously. They are expensive; sometimes costing the same or more than the grain portion, yet may not provide sufficient efficacy. Dietary supplements are unlikely to cure a disease but may help the horse maintain optimum health to recover more quickly from an injury or disease. When evaluating a product on your horse, try to avoid the temptation to “throw the book” at the horse by trying numerous new products all at once, but rather evaluate them one at a time for a sufficient period. Sometimes the withdrawal of a product is more informative than the addition of the product. A good way to consider use of these varied products for our sport horses is that dietary supplements help maintain the horse while drugs treat or cure a condition or disease. Sometimes the most cost-effective approach is to utilize the “big guns” of pharmaceutical drugs first, then follow up with a supportive role of supplements. When available, generic drugs save money and are equally effective and safe as the pioneer drug. If the right drug isn’t available, a compounding lab or another country may provide a legal alternative. Remember that competitive horses may not be administered compounds that may alter behavior or mask pain during competitions. Check the applicable rules of your organizing body (FEI, AQHA, USEF) regarding permissible and non-permissible medications during competition.

h 24

- January 15 - Marc

2014 it u c r Ci r te in W la a Jumping w o h S HITS Oc s s la C ld r s of Wo 10 Week

day y Thursday & Sun er ev x ri P d n ra G Featuring a d by afternoon, presente

©ESI Photography

Sunday, February


Sunday, March 9, 10 am - 2 pm 15, 3 pm Saturday, March , 2 pm Sunday, March 16 *Monday, March 24, 2 pm 5 pm 6 pm

Horse Show

or Fair Valentine’s Vend

Animal Nutrition or Fair Spring Fling Vend

Kids Day enge

Chall ets West Hunter

$50,000 East Me

$100,000 Sullivan

d Prix

GMC Truck Gran

x Hunter Prix $25,000 Devoucou rade of Grand Circuit Champions Pa d lan Ire re ix Horsewa Million Grand Pr

n $1

The Great America

pm Sunday, 8 am - 5 24, Wednesday - children 12 & under ch ar M 15 y ar for l runs from Janu Sundays | FREE

on genera day, $5 admission 24 - $10 per person sday through Satur | *Monday, March FREE for adults Tue | FREE parking ble ila ava e vic & food ser Bleacher seating ion person VIP admiss admission, $50 per

HITS Post Time Farm | 13710 US Highway 27, Ocala, FL 34482 For more information: | | 352.620.2275

24 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Hindquarter Help

Weakness may be corrected through applied kinesiology Lynn Peck, DVM


hat do a dressage horse who has difficulty with lateral work, a jumper with stifle problems, and a racehorse that can’t change leads have in common? It might be weak hindquarter muscles NOT due to Equine Protozoal Myelitis (EPM; from Sarcocystis neuroni infection), herpesvirus, or Lyme Disease, the three most common reasons for neurologic muscle weakness (vertebral malformation being a fourth cause). And, it might be readily correctable! In many horses with neuro-muscular-based hindquarter weakness, the veterinary neurological exam may be normal or reveal few abnormalities except significant hindquarter weakness on the lateral tail pull test. In this test the veterinarian stands or walks beside the hindquarters of the horse and pulls sideways on the tail while the horse is first standing still, then walking, to check for muscle strength to resist the sideways pull. Some horses can be pulled almost 90 degrees laterally (i.e., at right angle to the direction of movement) without much effort. (Figures 1A and 1B. ) These horses are usually then tested and treated for EPM or other conditions, often with only partial success. Weakness at only a localized region certainly can be a symptom of EPM, but can also indicate a local “glitch” or inhibition in the spinal cord-nerve-muscle circuit that may be permanently correctable in a few minutes’ time. Usually there is no pain or obvious inflammation. Applied Kinesiology evaluation and treatment, extrapolated from human use and adapted for horses; acupuncture, and other alternative medicine approaches provide additional tools in these cases. Applied Kinesiology (AK) is a diagnostic and therapeutic discipline (and a recognized medical specialty in some countries) that combines knowledge of muscle function and nervous system function with biochemistry, anatomy, neuroanatomy, nutrition, muscle cell metabolism and other biomedical fields. As such it provides both a means to detect and correct a wide range of nervemuscle circuit (i.e., neuro-muscular) functional abnormalities stemming from previous injury, or nutritional, biochemical, metabolic, or even emotional factors. Applied Kinesiology was discovered and initially developed by Dr. George Goodheart, a chiropractor, 50 years ago. Dr. Goodheart was also the first chiropractor to be an official U.S. Olympic Team doctor. AK is now an international discipline primarily practiced by chiropractors, physicians, and acupuncture physicians, although some veterinarians also employ it. In AK, muscle-organ relationships have been identified by manual muscle testing of individual muscles and finding the organ reflex point or tissue extract that counteracts weakness of the specific muscle. The medial stabilizer muscles of the hindquarter, which help to resist the lateral pulling of the tail test, include the inner thigh muscles (adductors, gracilis, and sartorius) and medial muscles of the lower limb including the gastrocnemius and soleus. These and the posterior tibial muscle, which becomes part of the deep digital flexor tendon, are associated with the adrenal glands. This association means that a problem with the adrenal glands, such as stress from shipping, hard training and showing, inadequate nutrition, or environmental chemicals, affects those specific muscles, causing dysfunction leading to weakness. The reverse is also true: weak muscles from injury or other cause can also impact the associated gland or tissue function.

Figure 1A: A weak lateral tail pull test. Not much strength was needed to pull this horse’s hindquarters at least 45 degrees from the direction of travel

Figure 1B: A strong test. Note the more deeply bent body position of the tailpuller, who is exerting nearly maximal force with only slight deviation of the horse’s hindquarters. The two photos were taken nine minutes apart using the same horse. Figure 2: This warmblood gelding was regularly ridden several times a week on the flat. Six weeks after applying the techniques in this article, he had obvious significant muscle development without any change in his routine or level of activity.

Similarly, the lateral stabilizer muscles of the opposite hind leg include the gluteals, tensor fascia lata, biceps femoris (lateral hamstrings), and the lateral muscles below the stifle. These muscles are associated with the large intestine, reproductive organs (no longer present in geldings and some mares; or being suppressed by hormone injections). Both medial and lateral stabilizers are probably assisted to some extent by the abdominal muscles on each side (small intestine association; e.g., ulcers in the upper digestive tract). When the organ-muscle association is the main reason for neuromuscular weakness, circular rubbing of the associated neuro-lymphatic reflex point can often bring immediate improvement in muscle function. Neurolymphatic reflex points were discovered by Dr. Frank Chapman, an osteopath, in the 1930’s. They were observed to cause rapid improvements in organ or gland function in human patients when stimulated. Later, Dr. Goodheart found he was able to cause dramatic improvement in the associated muscle’s strength and function by rubbing the points. In horses, similar improvement in muscle strength and nerve-muscle function occurs when the appropriate neuro-lymphatic reflex is stimulated. These points can be rubbed daily for 3-5 minutes as part of treatment or routine management of an equine athlete with high performance demands. “Blocked” or subluxated hind fetlock joints or elbow: A single “misalignment” of a hind fetlock joint can cause profound weakness (inhibition) in multiple hindquarter muscles. In taking human AK training, the author had

the experience of her own upper leg and pelvic stabilizer muscles being profoundly weak during manual muscle testing. Noticing that the “toe knuckles” (metatarsal-phalangeal joints) were out of alignment, the tester, a licensed human chiropractor, adjusted those joints. Immediately the weak muscles became extremely strong. Taking this observation into clinical practice, the author began to check hind fetlock joints routinely. A simple correction by strumming around the entire joint again caused profound positive changes in her patients’ athletic abilities. Significant muscle development also would quickly occur over the entire body, without any changes in the horse’s



management or training routine. In horses that still tested with weak but improved lateral tail pull tests after addressing the fetlock, similar treatment of the elbow joint on the side opposite the tail pull would often bring increased strength. Blocked acupuncture meridians are a third apparent cause of hind limb weakness. These can occur from old injuries, recent injuries, scar tissue, and in particular, brands such as many warmbloods have (scar treatment may also be of help, via Touch Balancing/Animal Bowen™ therapy, laser, procaine

Featured Property 20-Acre Equestrian Center

Conveniently located in Southwest Ranches, a town with a country setting and upscale homes close to Miami and Wellington, within easy reach of many show circuits. ~Fully operational & ready to go ~2 parcels, 20 acres ~2 barns with 31 stalls & walkout paddocks ~Nelson automatic waterers ~Lighted sand arena for full jump course ~3400 sq. foot storage building ~Round pen ~Multiple grassy pastures with pvc fencing ~Huge rider’s lounge and facility office ~Beautiful 3 bedroom, 3 bath residence ~$2 million

Beth Nathanson, PA, Realtor

“Opening Doors for People Like You” 954-675-9997

Florida Sporthorse Magazine 25 injections, wheat germ oil application, or other means). The Gall Bladder meridian runs through this exact area, while the Stomach meridian follows a line over the front of the stifle joint. Often stifle problems are present when there are stomach meridian blockages. The author has frequently observed that a meridian blockage is usually accompanied by muscle weakness/inhibition along the entire meridian pathway following the blockage. Sometimes this also includes sensory nerve input being reduced or absent, so that a horse literally cannot feel the rider’s leg aids. Unblocking the meridian by a light strum across the point of blockage, or needling the beginning and end points (or using light or sound devices at these locations), will usually immediately restore nerve-muscle function of the affected areas, as evaluated by neuromuscular function tests and response to the rider’s aids. In one case, a horse that had become very sluggish to the rider’s legs instantly reverted to his normal, highly responsive self after clearing a Gall Bladder meridian block with one or two light strums. In summary, using Applied Kinesiology and other techniques, many horses are found to have local problems in a given nerve-muscle circuit(s) that causes a correctable muscle weakness. These techniques may have success where medications, acupuncture point treatment, spinal manipulation (chiropractic), massage, or other approaches have not worked. Normal nerve-muscle function can often be permanently and quickly restored, resulting in improved performance for the equine athlete.

26 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Going Pro Lessons learned in the leap from amateur to professional Karen Abbattista


f you are reading this article in this magazine, there’s a better than average chance that you have a passion for horses. And, like many equine enthusiasts, perhaps you secretly dream of a career involving horses. You are not alone. I used to sit at my desk in my office and dream of at time when I could trade in four walls for barn stalls, when I could do what I loved for a living. But, give up a steady paycheck, insurance benefits, and a retirement plan? That seemed irresponsible, almost reckless. Equestrian pursuits remained a hobby, and I continued to climb the corporate ladder, rung by rung, step by step, a reluctant success with my heart elsewhere. But, the money was good, and it paid for horses and clinics and lessons, and I consoled myself with the thought that one day I would retire and live my equestrian dream. Then, one day, in December of 2012, I was told by the company I worked for that my services were no longer required. Really? Oh joy! What could have been disaster was in fact the best day of my life! I was free, free to do what I wanted, free to be whatever I wanted to be. In the United States, there is no formal certification required for becoming a professional horse trainer or instructor. Unlike many European countries, there are no mandatory licensing procedures and there is little regulation. While organizations such as the United States Dressage Federation and The United States Eventing Association offer Instructor Certification programs, they are voluntary in nature and not required. Unfortunately, almost anyone can declare themselves a trainer. All it takes is a phone call and fax to the United States Equestrian Federation, and, poof, you’re a Professional. Changing your status from Amateur to Professional is remarkable only in its understatement and simplicity. A designation that for me represented such a milestone was remarkably easy to obtain. I had expected it to be harder, to jump through hoops, for fanfare. Not so. However, that was just the beginning, there were other, more difficult obstacles to overcome. Here are some lessons I learned during my transition from Amateur to Pro.

Establish Your Credentials

In the absence of any formal certification procedures, it is up to you to establish your credentials. Why should someone take lessons from you? What sets you apart from the other trainers in your area? What are your accomplishments? I began laying the groundwork for my professional status many years prior to the actual event. Knowing that teaching and training was my ultimate goal, every educational opportunity I could take advantage

Sarah Bates

Karen Abbattista finishes a dressage test on HF Cali Daaba owned by Karin McMurtrie of Hawks Flight Farm in Sarasota. of as an amateur, I did. If you are going to teach, you need to love to learn. I admit to having almost every book on the USDF Recommended Reading List for Judges and Instructors. I have a video library that crosses multiple disciplines. When an USDF Learner Judge Program was offered in Florida, I was among the first to send in my application to attend, graduating with distinction. I’ve attended countless clinics, workshops, symposiums, and seminars. You can learn something from everyone, so embrace every opportunity that comes your way. You also need to show competency in your discipline. While competition can be expensive, it’s important to demonstrate your abilities. For me, the USDF Bronze and Silver Medals and the Silver Musical Freestyle Bars are tangible assets that demonstrate proficiency, as do other awards won over the years. Some advice, keep track of what you’ve accomplished, and market it.

Be Honest about Your Skill Set

Not everyone is going to be an FEI trainer, and that’s ok. If you are looking to teach your horse to piaffe, I’m not the right trainer for you; there are other trainers with far more experience at that than I. But, if you are an adult amateur with fear or confidence issues, well, that’s another story. When starting out, you may have to take whatever work comes your way, but be careful. The worst thing you can do is over-promise and under-deliver. Your reputation is built by word of mouth. If you are not comfortable with what is being asked of you, be up front about that with your clients. Far better to send that horse and/or rider to someone else, or to have an open dialogue about what is needed. I have a woman I teach several times a week who has Tennessee Walkers. When she contacted me about lessons, I told her I knew very little about gaited horses. My focus is dressage. She said that didn’t matter, as long as I was willing to learn. She

has taught me quite a bit about gaited horses, and I have taught her quite a bit about classical training principles. It’s been tremendous fun, all the more so because the relationship was built on full disclosure. I didn’t pretend to know something I did not, and so we’ve been able to work through training challenges openly and honestly.

Horse Sense & People Skills

Truly gifted riders do not always make the best instructors. For them, riding is as effortless as breathing; they don’t think, they just do. When asked to intellectualize, they have difficulty expressing their actions in words. While communicating with the horse is easy for them, teaching that skill to others is more challenging. In a recent lesson, a student was struggling with unsteadiness in the bridle. Her mare uses lightness as an evasion, and avoids true connection by going above or behind the bit. She asked me to get on the horse and talk through everything that I was doing. When did I use my leg? Which leg? How long, how much? When did I use the reins? How? When? Why? It was a teachable moment for both of us. My student had no idea how many connecting half halts were actually being applied (the answer is as many as necessary and as little as possible). To her, it had seemed like I was doing nothing, when in fact there was a constant dialogue with the mare. Of equal importance was the explanation of when I was truly doing nothing, when the mare was moving correctly from back to front and into the bridle and I could enjoy a following connection. Some students learn from words, some from images, some by watching, and some by doing. It is important to combine all of the senses in your teaching. Find many different ways to explain the same concept; you will need every single one of them. Remember, you have two students, the rider and the horse. Teaching a skill that relies so heavily

on timing and feel requires a bit of luck, and a perfect storm of aiding. You learn to look for those moments when all of the pieces fall into place. There! Did you feel that? Memorize that! Well done! Learn to tailor your style to meet the needs of your audience. One student of mine rode with a very well known and respected author and clinician. She was highly disappointed. The clinician’s one size fits all approach, sharp tongue, and blunt demeanor were not at all effective with this student, and the lessons were a disaster. Another student of mine rode in this same clinic, and had a very different experience. She was able to discard the delivery and focus on the message, and so got much more out of the lessons. How much better would it have been for the first student had the clinician been able to modify her approach, been able to recognize the communication breakdown and salvage it? A more supportive, less critical environment would have created a more positive learning experience in that particular instance.

Managing Expectations

with her right before her dressage test, and knew right away something was wrong. She had counted on me, and I had failed her. I will never forget that. Even though her ride went ok, and she has since become a successful competitor, the memory of her disappointment stays with me. Some riders want you to be critical, some need your support. Some need to be micro managed; others want to be left alone to figure it out. Fast forward to another Schooling Show, another warm-up ring, with a different horse and rider. This time, the more I coached, the less effective I became. I learned for this combination, to stay quiet and keep feedback to a bare minimum. They did much better when left in quiet. It’s important to know what people want from you, what they expect. Being clear about goals and objectives helps you to meet and manage expectations. A few months ago, I had a brief flirtation with a sales horse. Advertised as a solid second level contender, it was apparent that the less than twelve months under saddle had left the basics not quite


Early into my teaching career, I learned a painful lesson. I had several students to coach at a Schooling Show, and two horses to ride. One of my ride times was very close to a student’s. She was new to showing, and I assured her I would help coach her. Things didn’t work out as planned, and she was alone in the warm-up ring. Her horse sensed her nervousness and anxiety escalated. I met up


Florida Sporthorse Magazine 27 confirmed. I started back at the beginning, and began making progress. However, the owners’ were not interested in long term solutions, but a return on investment. They were not interested in the correctness of the training. Caring about what happened to the horse, I succeeded in finding a buyer looking for a project, who made what I thought was a generous offer. It would have been an excellent home. I was thrilled, thinking it was a win-win for everyone. However, the owners’ were not impressed. Try as I might, I could not convince them to accept the offer, they moved the horse, and the last time I checked, the horse is still for sale.

Win Some, Lose Some

Be active, be involved, be an advocate for your sport. Volunteer, contribute, educate, and take every opportunity to introduce yourself. Potential clients are everywhere. I’ve learned to write my schedule in pencil. Rarely does a week go exactly as I had planned. At the beginning, rescheduling and cancellations were commonplace. Very frustrating! Now that I am busier, everyone has learned that if they cancel, they may have to wait to get worked back in. I have my A-List of clients, those that ride with me regularly, treat me well, and only cancel when absolutely necessary (things do happen). I bend over backwards for these people, as well I should. Other lessons and training horses get scheduled around them. There is no such thing as exclusivity. Most of your students will at some point ride with someone else. You may lose some; you’ll gain some. It’s a bit of a revolving door. Recognize that the rider in front of you today may tomorrow be in front of someone else. Watch what you say. I try to be very careful when discuss someone else’s training. Your words will get repeated and taken out of context; the equestrian grapevine is an active one. Best to be cautious and say nothing, that way you are sure it does not get distorted when repeated. If twisted words do come back to haunt you, confront these instances head on. Rumor propagates in the darkness, bring it out in the open and expose it. Encourage alliances, not adversaries. Don’t underestimate the power of social media. Facebook is a powerful marketing tool that has the added benefit of being free. While time consuming, the investment can yield huge returns. Twitter and Instagram are two other platforms that can help you network and reach out to the community, but as always, be careful with your public postings. Share only what you want repeated, keep it positive, be professional. It is possible to make the leap from Amateur to Professional; I have done it. I have been blessed to have a strong support system of friends, clients, and colleagues who have made my transition seamless and successful. Other trainers have been very generous in offering advice and guidance, and mentoring me along the way. I’m thankful to be part of such a wonderful community. We share a common a goal, to help you and to help your horse. We are all in it together. While it is not always easy, think of long hours, hot days, little time, it is always rewarding. I can’t imagine doing anything else!

28 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Gold Rush

Rider learns valuable lessons in quest for medal

Michael Bradtke

Heather Black on Cooper V on her way to earning her USDF Gold Medal. Changes in her pre-show routine and how she approached her ride brought her success and satisfaction in the ring.

Heather Black The United States Dressage Federation (USDF) has a series of awards called the USDF Rider Awards. Riders must earn two scores of 60% or higher from two different judges at certain levels to obtain the awards. A bronze medal is awarded to a rider who earns the required scores at 1st, 2nd and 3rd level. A silver medal is awarded to a rider who earns the required scores at 4th level and Prix St. Georges. A rider who earns the required scores at Intermediare and Grand Prix receives a gold medal. Grand Prix is the highest level in dressage competition and represents the ultimate in collection, strength and precision from a horse and rider.

Seen in the Olympics, the test includes movements such as a canter half pass zigzag, canter pirouettes, one and two tempi flying changes, piaffe, and passage. A Grand Prix horse needs to have a



certain amount of natural talent and receives years of training. They are a rare find, and I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to ride Danish warmblood Cooper V in my journey to earn my silver

medal in 2011 and my gold medal in 2014. During my first Grand Prix competition, I barely scored a 60% toward my USDF gold rider medal. I was worried I would go off course. I was afraid I would make mistakes in the dreaded canter half pass zigzag, the one tempi changes, the piaffe, and the passage. I over-schooled on the Friday before the show, determined to figure out my timing issues I’d been working on for months, in one session. The session ended with a tired horse, a frustrated rider and no improvement on my timing issues. During the test itself, I was so distracted by my focus on what was coming up, whether it was where to go or how I could possibly pull off 15 one tempi changes, I gave insufficient attention to the simple details of my ride: riding a square halt,

centering a movement on the centerline, or even preparing for a movement, instead rushing to get it over with as quickly as possible. The test felt hurried and panicked, one movement followed by the next and the next with no time to think or breathe in between. My thoughts as I exited the arena were grim. My only positive thought was that it was over! This feeling was not why I had dedicated myself to dressage, pursuing my childhood dream and life-long passion for horses. Here I was, riding at the highest level, earning a respectable score, and I was relieved it was over. Clearly I was doing something wrong. One month later, I was back in the show ring for my second attempt at Grand Prix and my final score to earn my gold medal. This time I scored a 69% and had a fantastic ride during the test. While the additional month of practice helped, I also changed a few things during the competition that transformed my experience. The Friday before the show, my schooling session was designed to get familiar with the show grounds and make sure all of my aides were in place. I walked around my competition and schooling arenas. While my competitors were drilling their horses on movements as their trainers bellowed instructions across the showground, I did big circles at walk, trot and canter. I made sure my horse was listening to my legs and seat and was light in the bridle. I tested a little bit of lateral work and a couple of changes. Then we took a 30-minute stroll around the show grounds. Later I returned to the arena alone and visualized riding the test in the arena. Not just the movements, but every step, the quality of the gaits I wanted, how I would prepare for the entry and exit of each movement, and reminded myself how to actively ride the challenging parts of the test. During the month before the show, while I practiced improving the individual pieces of the test on my competition horse, I practice the test pattern on every horse I rode. Whether they could actually do the movements or not was not important. What was important was that the test pattern became automatic and part of my muscle memory. Last but not least, I made myself focus on the smallest elements of the test. Concentrating on each step, rather than fixating on the bigger picture of a complete movement or the test itself. These changes had a dramatic impact on my test experience. Focusing on each step and breaking the movements down into their smallest elements created a slow motion effect for the entire test. I was no longer fixated on getting a movement finished. Instead, I was focusing and actually enjoying the level of collection in the gait as we went through the movements. I remember thinking that the short side was taking forever. I had so much time to prepare because consciously placing every stride allowed me to use the arena more effectively. I only thought about what I was doing in that moment, allowing total concentration on one thing at a time, like each of the eight strides in my canter pirouette, instead of being distracted by future events. I felt relaxed and confident and had moments of awe in the beauty and grace of the horse beneath me. I rode the dreaded canter half pass zigzag with a smile and laughed during my one tempi changes.

Palmer Photo

Heather Black and Cooper V execute one of many flying changes in the Grand Prix test. My thoughts as I exited the arena were jubilant. Regardless of my score or the things I could have done better, I had fun during the test and was reenergized in my passion for horses and the sport of dressage. This feeling was why I had worked so hard! For my next show, regardless of the level I plan to compete, I will keep three things in mind: 1. The day before the show is not the time to fix or change things. If a riding pair is still having issues with parts of the test, it will not be solved the day before a competition. The level of proficiency achieved in the week before the competition is what a pair will have for the show. Better to focus on making sure all aides are in working order and that the movements already mastered are at their best so those scores can be maximized. Figure out how to minimize the damage to scores from challenging issues, but be cautious not to focus so much on what a pair cannot do well. You want a positive attitude going into a competition so build confidence in the rider and horse by having a positive schooling session. 2. Know the test. Whether you have a reader or not, the rider must know the test thoroughly so it becomes second nature. The effort that goes toward trying to hear a reader or straining to remember the next movement takes away from the rider’s ability to focus on the ride. Instead of riding in the present, moment by moment, the rider is fixated on what is coming next. That division of focus diminishes the quality of the test and adds another level of anxiety to an event that is already stressful enough. Practice the test as much as possible on horseback and use detailed visualization exercises to cement not only the test pattern, but the rider’s aides as well. 3. Ride each step. A test is not just about each score or each movement. It is the journey of each step that creates harmony and fluidity, transforming what is a series of tasks into a ballet between horse and

rider. Concentrating on the steps or small elements, allows the rider to build a strong foundation for each movement. Without quality and accuracy in the building blocks, there cannot be success in the final product. This focus on the steps also provides additional occasions for the pair to have successful moments, building confidence and a positive outlook on the ride. These are the lessons I learned on the final phase of my journey to a USDF gold medal award. I could not have done it without the support of the training team at Matt McLaughlin Dressage and Cooper V’s owners, Matt McLaughlin and Ronald Wright. Most importantly, Cooper V’s generosity, willingness to forgive my errors for a cookie, and insistence that I get it right before he would perform, made him an excellent instructor and companion throughout the experience. Horses like him are priceless.

Subscribe! Sporthorse Florida


summer 2012

per y


Sporthorse FLORIDA

FALL 2013

USHJA Emerging Athlete Program V ol . 3, N o .4

Don’t miss a single issue!

Lisa Hyslop: Passion & Perspective V ol . 5, N o .1

30 Florida Sporthorse Magazine

Imagine That!

Visualize positive outcomes Janeane Reagan, PhD We humans possess a powerful mental ability that, thank goodness, our horses do not have. This is the power of our imagination. The mental images we create in our minds have the power to help us and the power to hurt us depending on how we take charge of them. Often we use our imagination to playback events of the past. Negative events tend to get priority, like recalling your horse shying at the judge’s stand at C during your last dressage test, or the time your horse ran out at the



triple oxer, or maybe it was his refusal to cross that 10 inch stream that runs through your favorite trail. Your brain’s bias for remembering negative events more easily than positive ones is a mechanism that has worked well to assure human survival since the era of the caveman but it has some limitations in modern life. Fortunately your horse does not stand in his stall or the corner of the pasture reliving bad times. You, however, are very likely to play them back like an automatic DVD that goes off in your head whenever you think about the situations. With each repetition, these images become more firmly established in your brain’s circuitry. The stronger the negative pictures become, the more likely they are to help you create that same scenario the next time you face that challenge or a similar one. The good news is that you do have a wonderful editing option for your internal DVD programs if you choose use of it. Try playing back a negative riding

or driving experience and edit it to be the way you would have liked it to happen. Always take a couple of slow deep breaths before and during your editing efforts. Once you start to get a clear alternative version of the event, play it over several times with the positive outcome. Don’t be surprised if that old negative version tries to sneak back in. If it does, just take a deep breath and blank the “screen”. Now just replay the scene with the desired performance. The next step, once you have the edited version in place, is to change your perspective. In the first technique you watched your performance as if you were an external observer. Now place your perspective inside your own head, rather like an internal helmet cam. Feel yourself actually riding or driving with the ability you need to make the desired outcome. Reach into your tool box of equestrian skills, the skills that you may have acquired from clinics, working with your trainer, videos you have studied or memories of when you handled similar situations effectively. Experience yourself implementing each element in the movements of your hands, your body, the way you carry your head, even in your voice. If you have trouble bringing up these positive images, try imagining that you are your favorite expert rider or driver. Feel yourself handling the situation as if you were that person. You can carry out this imagery practice in the comfort of home, on a hay bail in your barn , sitting on your saddle while it is on a saddle stand or sitting in you carriage. Continue using your breath to keep your body relaxed and focused. When you feel that the images are solid and can be recalled easily, run your mental DVD while sitting on your horse or in a carriage with your horse hitched. If those negative pictures try to creep back in as you are approaching your next challenge, take control of that mental remote and switch tracks to the image you want to produce. Remember, you can use that powerful imagination to practice what you do want or to practice what you don’t want from you and your horse. You pick.

Kathleen A McLaughlin

Florida Sporthorse Winter 2014  

A quarterly magazine dedicated to Florida's dressage, hunter/jumper, eventing, combined driving and sport horse breeding communities.