Horse Connection Magazine May 2013

Page 1



MAY 2013 Volume XII Issue 4


The Tragic Champion

Rising Star Farm The Gold Standard

April 20, 1979 – April 21, 2013 “Some horses come into our lives and quickly go, others stay a while, make hoofprints on our hearts and we are never ever the same.” We all will miss you every day. Your loving friends at HARMONY.

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Table of Contents

MAY 2013


The Gold Standard


Sham: The Tragic Champion


Pay It Forward—Destiny in the Red Desert


Pay It Forward—A Blue Ribbon Rescue



Publisher’s Page


Behind the Barn


Adds & Scratches


HC Sport


Definitely Dressage


The Horse Connection

About the cover

Ronda Stavisky’s Rising Star Farm has flourished as a stallion station and breeding operation since she moved to Georgia. Ronda is pictured with one of her mares and a new foal. Photo by Alicia Frese. Alicia Frese Photography & Fine Art 8 | MAY 2013 | HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE


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Publisher’s Page


C would like to congratulate Beezie Madden for winning the 2013 World Cup Final in Sweden. We’ll have full coverage and details of the exciting competition in next month’s magazine. Here at HC, we firmly believe in the concept of “Paying it Forward,” and so we are debuting a semi-regular feature by the same name, highlighting those people who give of themselves and make a difference in the lives of people and especially animals. In this issue we have the stories of two women, who faced a situation that they could not turn away from, and went the extra mile to save an abandoned foal and a litter of neglected puppies and their mother. It’s a feel good story that I hope encourages others to “Pay it Forward.” If, after reading these stories, you know someone who would be a good subject for this feature, email me the details and we will follow up with a story. It’s a small horse world after all. We were attending a grand prix in Monroe, WA a couple of weeks ago when we ran into the woman who bought our showjumper, Salt and Pepper, several years ago in Colorado. She and her daughter had come up from Oregon to see the show and ended up sitting right behind us and overheard Valerie talking. It was great to catch up and find out that Salt and Pepper (Markus) has a new home and is competing in California. You might remember the article I wrote about us buying him at an auction in Germany. You just never know whom you’re going to run into at a horse show! We should embrace change, because you never know how your life may transform for the better. Such is the case with Rising Star Farm and Ronda Stavisky, who made the move Photo by Carol Walker from Texas to Georgia, and has found success both personally and professionally with her breeding business. Ronda graces our cover this month. Don’t miss this special interview with her from her farm in Georgia. We will be celebrating Women in Equestrian Business in the June issue. If you or someone you know would be worthy of being showcased in this feature, email Valerie at HC is a big supporter of womenowned businesses, and in June we celebrate those women. BUTTE DAWSON IS BACK! Yes, Butte’s very popular humor column, Behind the Barn, was a staple in HC for over eight years and garnered thousands of fans. Butte has returned from the mist and has given us the first column he’s written in over three years. He’s promised to write at least eight columns for HC this year so get ready to laugh at the funniest equestrian columnist who is the personification of the beleaguered horse husband! Butte Dawson wants us to set up a Facebook account. Go online to check out his hilarious fanpage soon. We are all looking forward to spring and summer and warmer weather, along with horses clipped of their shaggy winter coats, and long rides without parkas and ear warmers. It’s going to be a great summer. We’ll see you at the horse shows.

Here at HC, we firmly believe in the concept of “Paying it Forward.”

Geoff Young Publisher 10 | MAY 2013 | HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE


Geoff & Valerie L. Young Editor

Geoff Young V.P. Sales & Marketing

Valerie L. Young Art Director

Kathy Bone Copy Editor

T. J. Forrest Contributing Writers

Evalyn Bemis Kip Mistral Marc Patoile CuChullaine O’Reilly Butte Dawson Photography

Geoff Young Evalyn Bemis Sharon McElvain Meghann Norris Advertising & Rates General questions, advertising, and comments can be made to: or call 303.663.1300 Sorry, but Horse Connection cannot assume responsibility for unsolicited materials Horse Connection © 2013, Volume XII, Edition 4. Published monthly by Horse Connection, LLC., PO Box 775, Redmond, WA 98073, and is provided to its readers free of charge. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs, artwork and ad designs printed in the Horse Connection are copyright and the sole property of HC and may not be duplicated or reprinted without express written permission from HC. Horse Connection is not responsible for typographical or production errors or the accuracy of information provided by advertisers. Readers should confirm any advertised information with advertisers. HC reserves the right to refuse any advertising. We will not knowingly accept any advertising or print any material which is offensive or in violation of the law.


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Behind the Barn By Butte Dawson


o you remember when you had slumber parties as a kid? I don’t know why they called them slumber parties; slumber was never a part of it because you stayed up all night and it was fun. Did you know that there are slumber parties for adults as well? Seriously, I’m not kidding, it’s called FOAL WATCH and these parties can last from two to eight days without any sleep, and it’s not fun. I’ve talked to several zombies over the past couple of weeks that were in their fourth or fifth day of a foal watch party. I had no idea what they were saying because the lack of sleep and stress had reduced them to irritable, weeping, babbling nannies. Getting up every two hours round the clock will do that to a person. And after a few days of checking to see if the mare’s teats are waxy or showing droplets of milk, an indication that the foal is on the way, they start to panic and imagine that something has gone wrong.


Here’s the thing, the fetus decides when it is time to go, not the mare. It doesn’t matter whether the mare is more than ready or not, until the fetus releases the hormone that starts the mare into labor, nothing is going to happen. The stress and worry level of the foal watch party-goer goes through the ceiling the longer it takes for the mare to come into labor. Suddenly they are online and posting to Facebook the link to the foalcam and posting picture after picture of the poor mare, begging 387 of their closest friends to comment on how the mare looks or when it will go into labor, or just give me a freakin’ LIKE! Then it’s on to Google to find out how to induce labor or how to look for signs that the foal is stuck or the mare is stuck. After three days of this routine without sleep, the online searches suddenly turn to—how to kill yourself quickly, how to run away and join the circus, or how to plead insanity in court. This birthin’ bidness is crazy, I tell you, crazy! If we had horse breeders running the maternity wards in this country we would have ZERO infant mortality rates. These folks are meticulous and diligent and when the big moment was at hand, they’d pull those infants out by their big toe and have them in a soft bed of straw before the doctor could slap their butt and welcome them into the world with punishment. I mean these folks treat the arrival of a foal as if it were a threat of a missile

strike from Iran and North Korea—and they’re holed up in Cheyenne Mountain on high alert, day after day with their finger on the baby monitor button. And the questions keep coming in their sleepdeprived brains—When will she launch? When is she going to drop the big one? Do we wait or go preemptive? These are situations that can lead to war or a nervous breakdown. I was talking to a friend who was on her ninth day of foal watch when suddenly she screamed and dropped the phone. I waited for five minutes while I heard what sounded like more screaming followed by maniacal laughter and then crying. “What’s going on?” I yelled into the phone. “The mare kicked over a water bucket and when I saw the water running out under the stall door, I thought her water broke. I dropped the phone and ran to the stall screaming, scared the mare, slipped on the water and hit my head,” she said hysterically. I told her to be careful and to get some sleep. She mumbled that I should go do something to myself and hung up. I love springtime and the sounds of spring. Flowers awaken, bees buzz and birds chirp, and every year around this time, I hear the nickering of newborn foals in the neighboring pastures. And if you listen really hard, you’ll hear the snores of foal watchers. I really hope that all of the foal watch parties turn out successful this year because a lot of things can go wrong— usually not so much with the mother and baby, but with the poor people who kill themselves waiting and watching and watching and waiting for it all to happen.

I would like to send

a hEarTFELT ThaNK you

to the following people who helped make my trip to the Thermal, CA shows such a great experience for my horses and me:

Wells Bridge Farm (Corky, Paul, Karin, Katie) Littleton Equine Medical Center (especially Dr. Tisher and Dr. Swanson) Dean Nichols, Farrier Courtney, my daughter Westmanton Dressage Stables (Grant, Sharon, Nicole)

I couldn’t have done it without you! Looking forward to the CHP summer shows!

—Be’ Aspinwall

(Wild Card & Counselor)



ne could say that Ronda Stavisky and her Rising Star Farm have climbed another step higher on the podium with her move to Georgia. The analogy fits since one of Ronda’s breeding missions has been to acquire stallions with bloodlines that represent Olympic greatness. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Dr. Ronda Stavisky, who holds a PhD for work in Reproductive Biology, started her love affair with horses early—at age five she competed in her first horse show and continued on with Pony Club and riding through her high school years. In 2003, after pursuing her many degrees, she founded Rising Star Farm in Georgetown, Texas on a 45acre farm. Almost ten years later, she headed for the greener pastures of Silver Creek, GA. Having gone to school in Georgia, it was like a second homecoming as she set to work to create a stallion station and breeding farm that reflected her passion as well as her academic work. The strategy to running a breeding operation comes down to two things for Ronda. “The first thing I focus on is providing the best bloodlines I can to my customer base. I want to offer the proven performance bloodline. Secondly, success comes from sales, whether it is semen or babies. My primary goal is to sell every foal that hits the ground that year. It’s a practical approach because there is a much bigger return if you sell a 2012 foal in 2012 than if you sell a horse born in 2009 that you have to feed and pay for vets and farriers and training. You’re better off selling your current crop of foals every year.”




Alicia Frese Photography & Fine Art HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE | MAY 2013 | 15


Gold Standard

When it comes to performance bloodlines, it’s hard to argue the lineage of the Belgian Warmblood stallions and mares at Rising Star. Ronda reached for the top of the performance ladder when choosing horses. “My thinking was that I wanted stallions and mares to have parents that had competed in the Olympics. My first two stallions, Cielo B and Deju Blue B, absolutely epitomize that, and not just with Olympic parentage, but their fathers were extraordinarily successful in Olympic Games.” Cielo B’s dam sire was the great Jus de Pomme, the double-gold medalist in showjumping at the 1996 Atlanta, Olympics. Deju Blue’s father

was Olympic Ferro, the celebrated dressage horse from the Sydney Games. Ronda explained why she went with the Olympic performance bloodlines. “I try to offer the best product

of excitement that you have a piece of that champion pedigree.” Ronda’s approach to the care of her stallions is geared towards providing a healthy and happy environment for them. “Stallions are horses and a lot

“The first thing I focus on is providing

the best bloodlines

I can to my customer base. I want to offer the proven performance bloodline.”


• and give the best service I can but sometimes you need a little marketing angle, and Olympic pedigree bloodlines adds that little cachet. It’s like buying a racehorse whose sire won the Kentucky Derby. It adds a bit

of people lose sight of that,” she said. “They have the needs of horses and so what I do is give my stallions as much turnout as they can handle. I say that kind of laughingly because we have an older, retired grand prix dressage

horse that can only take about an hour of turnout before he insists on returning to his stall and his hay and his nap.” The stallions at Rising Star have their own barn in the middle of everything. They are kept well in sight of other horses and they are able to view their entire territory. “That is very important to them,” said Ronda. “They have their own barn and they are very quiet and mellow and just chit chat among themselves,” she explained. “They aren’t constantly challenged or distracted by mare behavior or anything else.” Ronda does expect her stallions to behave and they do—they all still compete and are well behaved on the showgrounds. “Basically, back at the farm they just chill with the boys,” she said laughing. “I’ve had people comment more than once that there can’t be any stallions on this farm because it’s too quiet.”

Ronda is excited for this new chapter in her life and for Rising Star Farm. “I’m so excited to start anew in Georgia and being on the east coast is so exciting. I’ve jumped into this full service stallion station, this mare breeding and foal station, and young horse sales, with both feet. I’m so thankful for all of my happy clients who continue to support me and I look forward to meeting new people and increasing my business profile.” The peace and quiet of Rising Star Farm seems to be conducive to happy clients and to producing wonderful sporthorses from Olympic bloodlines. As Ronda put it, “you have a business plan and you stick with the business plan until it’s time to amend the business plan.” That sounds like the gold standard for any successful endeavor. To find out more about Rising Star Farm visit


Adds & Scratches

Zacara Stuns Favorite Valiente in U.S. Open Polo Championship Team Zacara patron Lyndon Lea admitted there were some questions about his team, even though they were the defending champions. Consider them answered. Facundo Pieres scored 12 goals to lead Zacara over pre-tournament favorite Valiente 16–13 in the 109th Maserati U.S. Open Championship at International Polo Club Palm Beach. The victory avenged a 13–9 loss to Valiente in the USPA Piaget Gold Cup championship March 24. “This one, we went in with a lot of expectations,” said Lea. “Of course, we had Adolfo [Cambiaso] this year, who last year was injured, and I think a lot of people wondered what would have happened had Valiente been healthy last year. So yeah, this was it. We showed the world what we’re made of.” Pieres, the youngest 10-goaler in the world, dominated play and was named the MVP. “Last year we were more favored than this year,” said the 26-year-old Pieres moments after finishing a congratulatory phone call from his older brother Gonzalito from Argentina. “This year, I think one out of 20 thought that we were going to win, so it makes this one a little more special.” Colorado-based Valiente went undefeated in the 11-team tournament and was playing well coming into the championship match. Valiente featured 10-goalers Adolfo Cambiaso and Pelon Stirling who, as team captain Bob Jornauvaz stated, “they have been playing really well.” Cambiaso, who has won six U.S. Open championships, wasn’t able to propel his team to its 12th consecutive victory. Although he scored four goals and was around the ball much of the match, it was his actions in the final minutes that will be remembered. A foul was called in favor of Valiente

Colorado’s Team Valiente went undefeated throughout the tournament only to come up short in the championship of the U.S. Open. Photo by Alex Pacheco

and the ball was placed at midfield with 1:02 remaining with Zacara ahead 15–13. Cambiaso, who was frustrated by many calls during the match, hit the ball before the officials called play and was whistled or a technical foul. He continued to argue

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with the officials and decided to leave the field voluntarily before he was thrown out, according to International Polo Club Director of Polo Jimmy Newman. That was all it took for Zacara to hold on for the win. It was the first time a team successfully defended its U.S. Open title since Crab Orchard won back-to-back crowns in 2007 and 2008. The 16 goals tied the U.S. Open record for most goals by the winning team set by three other teams, the last time in 1996 by Outback Steakhouse. The 29 total goals also tied the U.S. Open record, set in 2007 when Crab Orchard defeated Jedi 15–14. HC would like to congratulate Bob Jornauvaz and Team Valiente for an outstanding tournament and for representing polo in Colorado at its finest.

Adds & Scratches

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children ride, work on a book about unicorns and rehearse a play to be acted out on Friday with their horses. Riders of all levels may participate.

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Adds & Scratches

Summer Horse Camps (continued)

“This one brings out the little girl in you for sure, and it brings out their confidence,” says McChesney. “During camp, the children ride and then make their outfits with tutus and magic wands, plus costumes for their horses.” Kelly Ladyga of Boulder commented on her daughter’s participation in the Fantasy Camp. “She got to be the princess she’s always wanted to be, using her vivid little imagination while also learning more about horses and improving her riding skills. At the end of the week, they put on a magnificent production for all of the parents.” Drill Team Camp, for children ages 10–15 who know how to walk and trot on a horse, offers a chance to practice and perform a choreographed ride to music with a group of riders. Riders are challenged to work together and complete movements as a group on horseback. On Friday, parents get to see a performance of the drill.

Fantasy Horse Camp at Triple Creek Ranch

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Adds & Scratches

Drill team is a military type of riding that McChensey thought would be fun for children to do. Even if your child is new to riding, there’s a spot for her on the team. The children also help to design the drill, select the music and create outfits throughout the week. Last year, the riders created tie-dye costumes and turned the drill into a “Flower Power” theme. “Drill team teaches camaraderie, following instructions and working as a team,” says McChesney. “You’re going to learn balance and control, if not more so than with just an instructor on the rail, because you’re combining it with these other elements.” Both camps use the same horses that are used in the ranch’s schooling program, mostly older horses that used to show. As McChesney points out, “Schooling horses are the ultimate horses to learn to ride on. They’ve seen it all.” The camp instructors are staff members who teach riding lessons throughout the year. Teenage volunteers who assist with the camps must go through a volunteer certification program through Triple Creek Ranch. The camps offer a new way for children to interact with horses and each other, rather than the traditional horse camp. “It’s about community and learning to work together in a group. It’s learning friendships. It’s learning confidence, safety and trust around the horses. The kids get all those other yummy things in addition to just being with horses,” McChesney says. Fantasy Horse Camp has three weeklong sessions in 2013, June 10–14, June 24–28 and July 22–26. Drill Team Camp has one session, July 8–12. Both camps run from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. each day. To register or for more information, visit Triple Creek Ranch is located at 4255 Nelson Road in Longmont, Colorado.


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Adds & Scratches

Spain’s Famed Horses Face Slaughter The economic crisis in Spain is sending almost 5,000 horses a month to the slaughterhouse and has increased the number of animals abandoned because their owners can no longer afford to keep them. The Pura Raza Espanola breed has always been popular in Spain but took off just after the start of the country’s biggest ever economic boom in the late 1990s. They had already won fame as warhorses and gifts exchanged between European nobility, and have been featured in Hollywood films such as Gladiator and Braveheart. The spike in demand over the last decade triggered a breeding frenzy in which the number of horses in Spain rose by the hundreds of thousands, nearly half of them purebreds like Pura Raza Espanola. Spain’s newly minted affluent classes couldn’t get enough of them. Then came the bust of Spain’s property bubble in 2008. First demand for the horses dried up. Now, as the financial crisis deepens with no end in sight, there’s a new dilemma: Horse owners are increasingly unable to pay for the animals’ upkeep. It all means that they face slaughter if owners can’t find anybody to take the animals off their hands. Until last year, Spanish law even dictated that rejected horses must be sent to the slaughterhouse. That’s no longer the case but most still are turned into meat because there’s little alternative if nobody else is willing to take the horses in. Owners who simply abandon horses face steep fines. The number of horses sent to slaughter in Spain by owners and breeders hit 70,000 last year, more than double the 30,000 recorded killed by the country’s Agriculture Ministry in 2008. The Agriculture Ministry horse census counted 660,889 horses in Spain this year, down from a high of 748,622 in 2011—but the number is still much higher than the 435,598 counted in 2007 just before Spain’s economic boom imploded. Veterinarians and horse experts warn that the high number of horses being killed in Spain could continue for years. Government officials have taken notice but there doesn’t seem to be any solution to prevent the slaughters.



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McLain Ward Captures Third Title at the American Invitational Two-time Olympic Gold medalist McLain Ward added his name to the record books on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium, becoming only the third rider in the long and storied history of the American Invitational to win the event three times. Piloting his fiery chestnut Rothchild, Ward edged out fellow London Olympian Reed Kessler for the hard-fought victory. Ward spoke of his win and of the importance of the American Invitational and the wonderful tradition associated with the event. “This class is an institution for this country and this sport. I’m so glad to see Michael Morrissey and Stadium Jumping, and the sponsors who have really made great efforts to keep this class going. It’s very, very important to us as athletes. We get a lot of everyday shows on sand with the same jumps, with the same routine. The American Invitational is something unique and very special,” Ward said. “When I grew up, this was the most important class to win.” Ward continued, “This is a class we have always coveted, I remember exactly where I was when I called my dad when I won it the first time.” That first victory was added to the record books back in 1998 on his mount, Twist du Valon. “I think the Invitational is important for future young riders, for my children one day I hope. I think these are the kind of classes that our country, not only the athletes and the sponsors, but also the Federation McLain Ward wins his third title at the American Invitational really need to rally behind,” he noted. aboard Rothchild. Photo by Kenneth Kraus From Rodney Jenkins, the very first winner in 1973, to Ward, this year’s champion, the roll call of winners of the American Invitational reads like a who’s who of show jumping. 1985 The American Invitational, now entering its fifth decade of equestrian 1995 excellence, was first held in the 2002 old Tampa Stadium in 1973. The groundbreaking class, an event with no entry fees and open to only the very best show jumpers in the world, was the creation of horse show visionary Gene Mische, who knew that the sport of show jumping deserved a bigger stage under the sport’s brightest lights. He knew that the Tampa Bay area was the right market for this new concept and he also knew that the “Big Sombrero” as the old stadium was called, was the perfect stage. • The leader in equine hoof supplements world wide From the very beginning, because of the tremendous test of skill and talent • The only product of its kind subjected to independent scientific research required to gain victory, the class has and published in a refereed journal been hailed as the “Super Bowl of Show • Vacuum packed and nitrogen flushed to remain ‘fresh’ three years from Jumping,” and as such has always manufacture date attracted the sport’s greatest stars.

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Pearce & Chianto Win the $50,000 Blenheim Spring III Grand Prix

John Pearce & Chianto Win the $50,000 Blenheim Spring III Grand Prix. Photo courtesy of McCool Photography

On a couple of cool, breezy afternoons, Blenheim EquiSports presented two stellar high performance events, the $50,000 Blenheim Spring III Grand Prix, presented by Equine Insurance, and this season’s first $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, both on the International Grand Prix Field. Exciting twists and turns captivated competitors and spectators alike. With grand prix prize money increased by over 20% for week three of the Blenheim Spring Series, internationally renowned course designer Leopoldo Palacios intentionally built a tough track. “From the three weeks this is the week with the most money. I needed it to be a touch harder than the other weeks. The field of riders is good, so I built a more difficult course.” Palacios explained, “My way of building and what I want doesn’t always happen (he laughs). A course is not one distance; it’s a flow and a lot of distances together. From

one to two, already the distance is a little bit forward. But I put this forward so they make decision to add or go forward. At the end I have short distances. I change the mind of the horse several times and this is where they have faults.” Two young women and two experienced men made it into a jump-off that featured long galloping lines demanding speed and agility. Admirably, each of the four was double clear with solid times, but veterans Pearce and Chianto claimed victory with a time of 38.62. “The horse just seems to be getting better. He’s 17 years old, but like wine, he’s just getting better with age,” said Pearce with a smile. Now in his sixth season riding Chianto, the winner went on about his horse, “He really likes himself a lot. He wants to act like the tough guy but he’s actually kind of mushy inside.”


A Lark for Clarke in the $40,000 Spring Classic II Grand Prix Lane Clarke of Hayden Show Jumping does it again winning two for two grand prix aboard the stellar mare, Semira de Saulieu. This time it was the $40,000 Blenheim Spring Classic II Grand Prix presented by Summit General Insurance Agency. With 45 tough competitors in the class, half completed the challenging course designed by Olaf Peterson, Jr. before the first clean round. Another six would finish clean with a total of seven making the jump-off. In the end, there were no inside turns or tricky maneuvers. Clarke “simply” rode double clear and a little handier and a little faster to clinch the win. Of course there is nothing simple about this sport. As Clarke states, “It takes practice, some luck, and a great horse.” Lane Clarke and Semira de Saulieu jump to victory in the “Semira is that rare horse $40,000 Spring Classic II Grand Prix. Photo courtesy of McCool Photography that adapts herself to perform extraordinarily well for both her trainer and amateurs,” added owner Charlotte Gadbois. “We believed she had tremendous potential when we first rode her in Europe as an eight-year old. Since then, she has met or exceeded every hope we had for her.” Now, if a good horse and good riding isn’t compelling enough, there is an interesting twist. For as long as Clarke can remember, lucky seven has been his favorite number. So on this seventh day of April, horse number 777 (Semira) brought him his seventh grand prix win. While Clarke is quicker to point to his support team, the Hayden organization, the owners, vets, shoer, and horses as the real reason for his win, he does admit that the connection to the number seven does make for a good story. Either way, he considers himself lucky.

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Peter Breakwell & Lucas Claim Victory in the $40,000 Blenheim Spring Classic I

Peter Breakwell & Lucas take the blue in the $40,000 Blenheim Spring Classic I. Photo courtesy of McCool Photography

The $40,000 Blenheim Spring Classic I Grand Prix, presented by the Orange County Register, welcomed twenty-two horse and rider participants onto the International Field at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. Canadian Peter Holmes set an inviting course and New Zealander Peter Breakwell took home the top prize. Seven riders piloted their mounts without fault to secure a spot in the jump-off. And of that group only two were double clean, Breakwell and second place finishers Michelle Spadone aboard Tembla (Morgan Hill Partners, owners). Both of these top riders now call California home. “My plan was to go fast, I didn’t know if I would be fast enough. But everything just kind of worked out,” explained Breakwell. Fast enough indeed; the pair stopped the clock in a speedy 41.300, almost five seconds faster than Spadone. The victory was even sweeter as Breakwell’s grand prix partner Lucas (No Drama, owner) was making a comeback after an injury. “To be honest, I didn’t really expect this today because this horse hasn’t been jumping a lot, he got hurt before Thermal so I wasn’t able to show him. I did two classes earlier this week and he jumped really well. So I thought I would give it a shot today. I walked the course and it was a little bigger than I had hoped. But in the middle of the first round he felt great, and just jumped incredible.” 28 | MAY 2013 | HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE

LEE DENNIE October 22, 1957 – January 29, 2013 “Life is not a matter of milestones, but of moments” —Thank you for all that you have shared with us, Lee.



Destiny in the Red Desert Story and photographs by Carol Walker



The beautiful landscape of Salt Wells Creek.


enowned wild horse photographer

Carol Walker has spent years documenting the wild horses and bringing public awareness to the cruelty of the BLM roundups through her photographs and her blog. And using her camera, she has become an important advocate for the preservation of the wild horse. But on a recent trip to photograph a herd of wild horses, scheduled to be “removed,” Carol found herself in a situation where her camera would be of no help to a wild horse. This is her story about paying it forward. It was a Sunday, and I was driving in the Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Area in the Red Desert of Wyoming. This area is over one million acres in size, vast and beautiful in parts, with power plants, a few ranches, wildlife (which includes deer, antelope, and wild horses), plus cattle and sheep. You can drive for over 30 miles on dirt roads from Interstate 80 heading south, and still not reach the border of the herd area.


I was there because the previous week, a judge in Wyoming Federal Court signed a Consent Decree, which will eliminate all wild horses from the Salt Wells Creek Herd Area this coming summer. I wanted to see and photograph some of the over 600 wild horses that would soon be separated from their homes and families, and taken to the Rock Springs Short Term Holding Facility. The last time I had visited this herd was in August of 2010 before the last round up of Salt Wells and Adobe Town.

No Horses in Sight

The day was both rainy and sunny and there was a storm that was supposed to be coming in that evening. The roads were wet in spots, so I planned to stay to the paved and extremely improved dirt roads in the area. I was driving along when I saw a sign for County Road 27. The road looked good so I turned and as I drove, I saw manure from wild horses and stud piles, but no herds.

I saw no other vehicles, and I had been traveling for about 10 miles. I came upon a turn for Aspen Mountain and took it but the road underneath my tires got looser and looser and I started to slide. I almost turned around but I got this urgent feeling that I needed to keep going. I turned north up County Road 27 and drove a little bit, relieved to find the road getting firmer and more manageable. Then the clouds started coming in and I almost turned around again. Then I spotted a horse—finally! As I got closer, I realized that this was a foal, and he looked miserable with his head down, standing next to a post. I looked and looked but could not see any other horses nearby. I drove closer, got out, and got my binoculars. I could see for at least a few miles in every direction, but not a single other horse was in sight. The little foal had worn a path around the post, and from the little bits of manure strewn about; it looked as though he had been there a while.

PAY IT FORWARD I approached slowly, not wanting to scare him, and noticed a big bite mark on his neck from another horse. It looked like a big scrape, not a deep wound and it was not bleeding. He was bright eyed and moving just fine and I wondered how he had come to be there all by himself. Perhaps he had a young first time mother who had wondered away, perhaps a stallion had bitten him and driven him off, or maybe his mother had died shortly after having given birth. I knew he was less than a week old. When I got closer he whinnied at me with a little high-pitched happy noise, clearly glad to see another creature! I was able to touch him, and he tried to nurse on my fingers. He was thirsty! I knew foals this small could not graze and needed to nurse from their mothers every few hours. And with a big storm projected to roll in the next day, he clearly needed help. I could not fit him in my vehicle, let alone lift him in, and I was aware that there are regulations about how to interact with wild horses and so I needed help as well. I had no cell service so I jumped in my vehicle and started driving toward town, telling him I would be back, even though I knew he would not understand. I saw another truck and flagged down the man who owned the ranch nearby. He tried calling the Rock Springs BLM office but the number just rang and rang—it was a Sunday. I decided to drive into the BLM office and see if I could find an after hours number. I did not think I had Jay D’Ewart’s number with me—he is the Wild Horse Specialist for Rock Springs and the person to call for anything related to the wild horses in herd areas around Rock Springs. There was not an after hours phone number on the BLM office doors, so I asked a sheriff who else to call and he suggested the Department of Fish and Game. Then I remembered that someone on Facebook had messaged me Jay’s number a few months earlier. I had cell reception in town so I was able to get on Facebook to find the number, and called. Jay called me right back. I told him about the foal, and he said to give him 30 minutes and he would meet me at the office with a horse trailer. We met up in the packing lot and drove out toward the foal. When we turned off

“As I got closer, I realized that this was a foal,

and he looked miserable with his head down, standing next to a post. I looked and looked but could not see any other horses nearby.”

My first view of the abandoned foal.

As if someone had told him to stay there, he never moved far from the post. HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE | MAY 2013 | 33


The hungry foal would try to nurse on our fingers.

the main road Jay asked me to lead the way. Once we turned at CR 27, we saw a large band of sorrel horses. Maybe this was the foal’s family! But as we looked, we noticed that every mare in the band had a foal with her, and there was no distraught mare wandering around calling for her foal. We kept driving and sure enough there was the foal, next to another post only about 50 feet from where I had left him three hours earlier. He was just over the rise from this family of wild horses, so they knew he was there, and we could even see by the tracks in the mud that they had gone right by him and had not picked him up. So Jay made the decision to take him in. As we got out of our vehicles and approached him, he whinnied at us, happy for the company. Jay walked up to him slowly and gradually put his hands on him. As he touched his rump his rear-end jumped a little in the air. Then he tried nursing Jay’s leg. Clearly catching him was not going to be difficult. Jay got out the


“As we got out of our vehicles and approached him, he whinnied at us, happy for the company. Jay walked up to him slowly and gradually put his hands on him.” little foal halter and lead, which was still too big but looked like it would stay on. Jay held the struggling foal as I struggled a bit to put the halter on him. Jay started to lead him to the trailer, and I followed behind, tapping him gently on the rear to encourage him to move forward. Of course this baby knew nothing about being led, but we needed to get him into the trailer. Finally Jay lifted him in, and then shut the gate. We were ready to go.

On the way to the vet clinic, we stopped a couple of times to check on him, and he was still standing up and whinnied to us each time we looked in on him. Jay called the vet on the way in to town to alert them that we were bringing in an abandoned youngster. Once we arrived at Mountainaire Clinic, Dr. Paul Zancanella came to meet us and helped Jay get the foal out of the trailer and into the clinic. He needed a little encouragement from behind to keep going but we got him into the clinic where he had his first exam, got blood drawn, had his temperature taken and antibiotics given in just a matter of minutes. He struggled a little but was remarkably calm and happy to be around some other creatures. He stood calmly next to Jay until he was led into a stall for the first time. They were going to give him goat’s milk rather than formula at first, since Dr. Zancanella said it was high in fat, like mare’s milk, and that it would not give him the runs, which is very important—


Destiny has a new home, but the fate of his herd is uncertain.

Jay and Dr. Zancanella get ready to bring the foal out of the trailer.

Jay and little Destiny. The foal’s first exam is gentle but efficient.

we did not want him to get dehydrated. I left the clinic content that he was in good hands, but not sure how he would fare this first night. I would check up on him tomorrow on my way home. It turns out he made it just fine through the night. I decided to call the foal Destiny. It was destiny that led me down an unfamiliar road in this herd area just that day, finding him before he was in bad condition, and before the storm hit, which would keep people off the road for days. It was destiny that a wild horse specialist from the BLM and a wild horse advocate would come together to save the life of a wild foal. And it was destiny that he was from the herd, whose members are soon to be zeroed out and removed from the land that this foal called home. I was very happy when I heard the next day that he was doing well, and they were looking for a foster home for him since baby horses require feeding every four hours initially, which is quite a

“ I decided to call the foal Destiny. It was destiny that led me down an unfamiliar road in this herd area just that day, finding him before he was in bad condition, and before the storm hit, which would keep people off the road for days.” commitment, involving lots of care for the first couple of months. I was informed that they have found a foster home for the initial care period for Destiny, and there is a wonderful local

Rock Springs wild horse advocate who wants to take him to a forever home. I am glad that Destiny will have a new home, but sad at the same time that he will not grow up in the wild, rugged and beautiful land that he was born in. In a way, he is luckier than most of the horses in his herd, whose future is still completely uncertain. If you want to help Destiny’s herd and three other herds, in the Red Desert of Wyoming, stay wild and free and on our public lands, you can donate to two legal funds. The Cloud Foundation: The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign: Carol Walker has devoted several years to photographing and writing about the wild horses and the efforts by the BLM to eradicate them from the American West. She is a tireless advocate and a voice for these horses. For more information about Carol and to view her work, visit: and






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rainer Frank “Pancho” Martin holds on to Sham, one of the greatest racehorses to never win a Triple Crown race.


SHAM The Tragic Champion r By Geoff Young


here is sentiment in horse racing but not much sympathy. The line is clearly drawn between winners and losers. To the winners go the glory, the blanket of flowers, the adulation and the fandom. To the losers, well, they just disappear. On this 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown accomplishment, there will be little said about the horse that pushed “Big Red” to three track records and immortality. His place in history is obscured by the shadow of arguably the greatest racehorse ever.


He had everything he needed to win this race except luck. 40 | MAY 2013 | HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE


inishing two and a half lengths behind Big Red, Sham still became one of only three horses to ever run the Kentucky Derby in under two minutes.

Many sports have stories that revolve around athletes who competed against each other and pushed each other to the top of their game. Magic Johnson had Larry Bird, Mark McGwire had Sammy Sosa, John McEnroe had Bjorn Borg, and Secretariat had Sham. It seemed clever to name the dark, seal brown horse Sham; after all, he was a son of Pretense. But the name would never fit this leggy, elegant stallion. He was no imposter; he was genuine, he was fast, he was a force, and he was born in the wrong year. Sham touched down on the green grass of Lexington in 1970 at the famed Claiborne Farm. Owner Bull Hancock had bred a number of exceptional horses at the farm but never had a Derby horse of his own. Sham was going to be that horse. Hancock was the man who brought Nasrullah from the green grass of Ireland to the bluegrass of Kentucky. That stallion changed everything. His famous colts included Bold Ruler and Nashua. Bold Ruler stood at stud at Claiborne siring Secretariat among others. Woody Stephens, who saw the talent hidden in this magnificent horse, trained Sham as a two-year-old. But everything changed when Hancock died in late 1972. With inheritance taxes looming, it was apparent that in order to save the breeding stock, the racing stock had to be sold. The Hancock family begged the executors to make an exception of Sham, but they wouldn’t and the horse was sold to Sigmund Sommer for $200,000. Sommer, a New York businessman, was looking to expand his breeding operation and regarded Sham as a promising stallion prospect. Sommer turned Sham over to his regular trainer, Frank “Pancho” Martin, who brought him to California for the winter. Sham was indeed a special talent and became the horse to watch after winning the Santa Anita Derby in a stakes record– equaling 1:47, and then capturing the Santa Catalina Stakes over a deep and muddy track. Prior to those races, Sham won a pair of 1 1/16-mile allowance races by six and 15 lengths, and was only one second off the track record in one of those races. In his final start as a two-year-old, he broke his maiden at HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE | MAY 2013 | 41

Ecole Etage, Torsion, and Sham (numbers 6, 5, and 1, respectively) were running 1-2-3 going into the first clubhouse turn. Seconds after this photo was taken, Sham was rubbed into the rail as Secretariat, launching his last-to-first charge, came flying around the outside to take the lead.

Aqueduct by six lengths in the mud. It was apparent then, that this horse was destined for greatness. Following his Santa Anita Derby win, Sham was shipped east to run the Wood Memorial with Secretariat in his sights. Jockey Jorge Velasquez kept Sham at a comfortable half-length behind Secretariat’s stable mate, Angle Light, who was controlling a somewhat slow pace from the lead position. After the race it was learned that Secretariat had an abscess in his mouth and was in great discomfort from the bit. Had Velasquez known this at the time, he and Sham could have taken the lead from Angle Light at any time, but he didn’t, and so he held Sham back, saving him for the expected onslaught of

Secretariat. It never came and by the time he realized that Big Red wasn’t coming, it was too late to catch the frontrunner. Sham finished four lengths in front of Secretariat to take second place, with Big Red coming in third. The stage was set for a thrilling Derby.

Pincay would try to go out in front and make the brilliant chestnut try to catch him. Sham had everything going for him coming into the Derby—momentum, speed and power. But he didn’t have the one thing that all racehorses that achieve greatness need, and that was a bit of luck. Stalking the fast lead horse Shecky Green, Sham made a move to challenge for the lead but the stubborn Shecky Green wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and pushed Sham through a fourth quarter, softening him up for Secretariat’s huge closing kick. Sham refused to give up and when Big Red came charging on the far outside, the two ran neck to neck to the eighth pole. Sham couldn’t keep up with Big Red’s spectacular final quarter, run in

The Preakness was eerily the same kind of race as the Derby had been.


Laffit Pincay was substituted for Velasquez at the Derby, perhaps as punishment for misreading the situation at The Wood, although Pincay had been the regular rider of Sham. There would be no waiting on Big Red this time.


ig Red and Sham go one–two at the Preakness, leading the rest of the field by eight lengths.

an unbelievable time of 23 1/5 seconds. Secretariat’s time of 1:59 2/5 destroyed Northern Dancer’s track record of 2:00, but Sham also bettered the record going 1:59 4/5. It would take 28 years for a horse to equal his time. Sham finished two and a half lengths behind Secretariat, but was eight lengths ahead of third place finisher Our Native. What made Sham’s performance so impressive was the fact that he had hit his head on the side of the starting gate with such force that he knocked out two of his teeth and ran the race bleeding heavily from his mouth. When he returned to his stable, his two teeth were just hanging there, held by a thin strip of gum tissue. It would take 45 minutes to stop the bleeding and cauterize the wound. One can only wonder what Sham might have done were he not in pain and swallowing blood as he flew around Churchill Downs. He had everything he needed to win this race except luck. The Preakness was eerily the same kind of race as the Derby had been—Secretariat again beat Sham by two and a half lengths, and Sham finished in front of the third horse, Our Native, by eight lengths. Sham’s lack of the elusive luck continued when he banged into the rail going into the clubhouse turn, just as Big

Red was starting his fantastic last-to-first move, opening up a clear lead on Sham down the backstretch and to the wire. In the documentary about Secretariat, Ronnie Turcotte, Big Red’s jockey, recalls hearing Pincay beating on Sham in the Preakness. The announcer noted it during the calling of the race saying— “that strong left-handed whip again.”

Sham was obviously giving it his all but the frustration over the dominance of Secretariat was affecting the good judgment of Pincay, and destroying the confidence of Sham. By the time of the Belmont race, Sham was not the same horse. Pincay, perhaps feeling remorse for whipping on Sham in the Preakness, urged Pancho Martin not to run Sham in the Belmont, expressing his opinion that he didn’t feel the horse was 100%. Martin should have listened. Sham was uncharacteristically nervous before the race and was soaking wet by the time he got to the gate. Unlike the other two Triple Crown races, Secretariat came out of the gate and went to the front right away. This was not going to be a come from behind victory. Big Red looked like he was ready to lead from start to finish. Sham went hard after Big Red and the two horses separated themselves from the others quickly. There was no way they could keep up this pace

Unlike the previous two races, Big Red (far right) got the jump out of the gate at the Belmont, went to the front, and never slowed down; breaking records and Sham’s heart on his way to the Triple Crown. Sham is on the outside position.

As Secretariat pulls away at the Belmont, Sham’s legs were splayed out and it looked like he was swimming instead of running. He had no more left to give and he cried out in frustration.

If you look strictly at the numbers and take Secretariat out of the equation, Sham wins the Kentucky Derby and Preakness by eight lengths. but neither slowed and continued to push on faster and faster. When Big Red started to pull away, Sham desperately tried to keep pace, but he was spent from chasing Secretariat through the two previous races and was now running on heart alone. It wouldn’t be enough. After three-quarters in an unheardof time of 1:09 4/5, especially for such a long race, Sham faded into obscurity as Secretariat poured it on, shattering the record books and taking his place in the palace of the immortals. America rejoiced for the new Triple Crown Champion, with unabashed joy, tears and celebration. But there were different tears, and a profound sadness in gallant Sham’s last race. If you look strictly at the numbers and take Secretariat out of the equation, Sham wins the Kentucky Derby and Preakness by eight lengths. He is one of only three 44 | MAY 2013 | HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE

horses ever to run the Derby in under two minutes, and only the third horse to ever run the final quarter in the Derby in under 24 seconds. Those who know the thoroughbred racehorse will tell you that they live to run. Like a shark that needs to keep swimming in order to breathe and hence live, the thoroughbred only knows joy when running like the wind, trying to outrun other horses, and knowing the feeling of victory. We tend to romanticize horses, attributing human characteristics and emotions to them to create the narrative. And so, in that context, Sham’s run at the Belmont is nothing short of heartbreaking. The riders on two of the other horses that ran the Belmont were eyewitnesses to that tragedy. From ten lengths back, Braulio Baeza on Twice a Prince, and Angel Cordero on My Gallant could actually see Sham’s heart breaking.

Astonished at what they saw, they looked at each other as if to confirm that they were both witnessing the same thing. Sham’s legs were thrusting out, splaying apart with no rhythm. It looked as if he was swimming instead of running and he was crying out in frustration. Instinctively, it must have been devastating to Sham to finally realize that he wasn’t the best or the fastest, because believing that you are the best is the trait any talented racehorse has to have in order to even compete. When you lose that belief, that drive and confidence, you cease to exist. And the cry from Sham on that day at the Belmont, was the mournful call of resignation from a proud stallion that didn’t understand what was happening, but knew that it was the end. Several weeks after the Belmont, the luckless Sham fractured a cannon bone,

requiring three screws to secure it. A complete recovery looked certain, but the right decision was made to retire the colt. Sham’s retirement home was Spendthrift Farm and he was later moved to Walmac. For 20 years Sham lived an honorable life at stud. On April 3, 1993 the night watchman fed Sham at three a.m. He again checked in on the 23-yearold stallion an hour later and found him dead in his stall. He was buried at Walmac without ceremony or recognition. He sired 64 stakes winners, three champions, and 18 graded stakes winners. An autopsy performed on Sham revealed that his heart weighed an astonishing 18 pounds, more than double the size of a normal Thoroughbred heart, which is eight and a half pounds. In one last cruel irony, the only heart believed to have been bigger than Sham’s was

Secretariat’s, estimated to have weighed 22 pounds. Even in death, Sham had once again come in second to Secretariat. So what can we take away from the story of Sham? Does he represent the putt that lips out or the basket that clangs off the rim at the buzzer? Is he the epitome of being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Perhaps he is all of these, but to me he is the story of the underdog who we never pulled for, as we do with many underdogs, because he never looked like an underdog and never thought he was anything but the best. At the Kentucky Horse Park there is a magnificent memorial statue of Big Red and his groom, Eddie Sweat. At the base of this memorial there is a paver that simply states: “In Honor of Sham—Noble in Defeat.” I hope he will be remembered for more than that.

It’s a shame that Sham’s greatest races were run in the shadow of Secretariat, and ultimately, defeat.



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Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 Top FEI Grand Prix at Wellington CDI 5*


teffen Peters and Legolas 92 were victorious in the FEI Grand Prix 5*, held during the Wel-

lington CDI 5*, presented by Diamante Farms. The Wellington 5* is the first of the final two weeks of competition for the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), hosted at The Stadium of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida. Peters and Legolas 92 finished first with a remarkable score of 75.085%. Second place went to Denmark’s Lars Petersen and Mariett with a score of 73.787%. Ashley Holzer from Canada and Breaking Dawn finished third with a score of 73.362%. Peters was thrilled with Legolas’ performance, as the eleven-year-old gelding appears to be coming into his own. “We haven’t done too many clean tests and today was one of them. We got the one tempis. That’s the second test in a row that he did his one tempis and that’s exciting. I’m very happy,” Peters said. The partnership of Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 is really starting to bloom. Photo: 46 | MAY 2013 | HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE


Jan Ebeling & “Rafalca” Return to the Show Ring in Style


Olympian Jan Ebeling & “Rafalca” earned two wins in their return to international competition at the Festival of the Horse CDI 3*/Y/J. Photo: Amy McCool

fter the media frenzy that surrounded U.S. Dressage Team member Jan Ebeling at last summer’s Olympic Games, he and his mount “Rafalca” enjoyed a quiet winter away from the spotlight. The well-deserved vacation obviously benefited both rider and horse as they put in strong winning performances at the Festival of the Horse & CDI 3*/Y/J held March 27–30, 2013 at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, California. The 15-year-old Oldenburg mare (Argentinius x Ratine by Rubinstein, owned by Amy Ebeling and Ann Romney) showed no signs of being rusty in returning to the international arena for the first time since London. First to canter down centerline in Thursday’s CDI Grand Prix class, Ebeling and “Rafalca” looked fresh and were rewarded by the judging with a score of 70.979%.

Robert Dover is New USA Coach


obert Dover has been selected as the new dressage Technical Advisor/Chef d’Equipe of the United States, the U.S. Equestrian Federation announced Wednesday saying that a contract is still to be finalized to fill the position that is expected to be through the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero. Robert, 56, who is based in Wellington, Florida, was successful in his second run for the post that is the coach of United States teams for the Olympics, World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, World Cups and other high performance events such as Nations Cups. He rode on six United States’ Olympic teams—Los Angeles in 1984, Seoul in 1988, Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004—winning four team bronze medals. He was selected over Rien van der Schaft, a 59-year-old classical dressage trainer and former Olympic rider for the Netherlands, who is based in Europe. Robert succeeds Anne Gribbons, an International Equestrian Federation top ranked 5* judge and operates a training business near Orlando, Florida. She beat out Robert for the job in 2009 but resigned after last summer’s Olympic in London where the United States was out of the medals for the second straight Games. Robert Dover was on more Olympic dressage teams than any other U.S. rider before retiring from competition in 2007. He has also been coach of dressage for the U.S. eventing team as well as heading up coaching for Canada after he missed out on the American job in 2009.

Robert Dover takes over as Chef d’Equipe of the US Dressage Team. Photo: Mary Phelps HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE | MAY 2013 | 47


Dressage at Devon Presents USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Program


ressage at Devon is proud to partner with the United States Dressage Foundation (USDF) to present the new USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Program. “Education is an integral part of our mission,” said Lori Kaminski, President and CEO of Dressage at Devon. “This program will be important to everyone in the dressage community and will help lay an educational base for the future of the sport. We are very pleased to be able to work with the USDF and Hassler Dressage to provide this important effort.” According to the USDF, the program, supported by Hassler Dressage, is designed to bridge the educational gap in the development of dressage horses, as they progress from showing in-hand to work under saddle to eventual competition. It will feature a live forum approach, focused on a correct, fundamental system for starting sport horse prospects. This new educational event is intended for trainers, owners, and breeders nationwide, with the goal of developing a consistent training foundation for all sport horse prospects. The inaugural forum will be held September 14–15, 2013, hosted by the New England Dressage Association, at Apple Knoll Farm, in Millis, MA. The forum will be led by internationally renowned sport horse development experts 48 | MAY 2013 | HORSE CONNECTION MAGAZINE

and educators, Scott Hassler, USEF National Young Dressage Horse Coach, and Ingo Pape. “Scott and Ingo are two of the most respected young horse experts in the industry. Their commitment and the partnership with the USDF is a giant step towards the success of the program,” added Kaminski. For more information about the new USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Program, contact the USDF office at or call 859.971.2277.



Celebrating the Art of Lightness!

Inaugural Lightness Tournament set to kick off


iding in lightness is the absolute respect of the horse, encouraging self-carriage and impulsion while limiting contact to only the weight of the reins and the wind of the boot. With lightness, almost nothing is perceptible and the horse seems to perform everything by itself. It thus allows any seriously motivated rider to access high school equitation with any horse. The Lightness Tournament is open to any horse, breed, and rider level and consists of a series of tests specifically designed for the horse and rider team to develop, improve and showcase their progress in riding in lightness. Lightness is a return to the classical principles of riding with emphasis on the artistic rather than the physical aspects of performance. Riders are directed into thinking more about showcasing their horses rather than riding for a score. The tournament aims at getting the best from any horse and fulfilling the rider through the constant search for the efficiency via the minimum use of aids. The goal isn’t to pass to the highest level quickly—it’s about being a partner with our horses and working together as team. Manuel Trigo has been teaching lightness for many years in the U.S. through clinics and seminars. With the competitive nature of riders, he wanted to offer an option to compete while keeping to the lightness principles. The tournament will be carried on through the Lightness Foundation, which is currently being formed. The mission of the Foundation is to promote riding in lightness, organize regional tournaments, host a national tournament once a year, and establish relationships with similar associations outside the U.S.

What the rider can expect from the Lightness Tournament: There will be five levels under saddle, with three levels with long


reins and in hand. The different levels will be graded on lightness, movement, and artistic value. The tests are exciting, fun and challenging. It is a way for the rider to hone their skills in order to work together as a team, to grow in harmony and grace with the horse and attain higher levels of lightness. Lightness is the goal: The values of the freestyle tests are 40% movement, 40% lightness, and 20% artistry. Because riders are performing for the love of the art and the love of their horses, they will not see their scores, only the judges’ comments. Each team of horse/ rider will need to master each level. Riders are allowed the opportunity to ride a test twice if something went wrong with the first time. Manuel always says “You first, then your horse.” The philosophy requires the rider to be light first; Level 1 is designed to test the rider on the basic rules of lightness: separation of the aids, release of the aids, moderation of the aids and optimization of the aids.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience Riding in Lightness. The Tournament will be held August 31–September 1 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Golden, CO. For more information contact Manuel Trigo, or email On the website you will find the detailed Tournament rules and the test for each level. The Lightness Tournament is hosted by the Lightness Foundation, LLC. The objective of the foundation is to promote and educate people about riding in lightness. The foundation will organize regional lightness tournaments and once a year a national lightness tournament..

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Blue Ribb


bbon Rescue


orse people aren’t just crazy about their horses; they have

a deep compassion and love for all animals. It was during the winter show circuit at HITS Thermal that Glee White, a highly respected trainer based in Colorado, found herself faced with a dilemma that she couldn’t turn away from. This is her story about paying it forward.

Glee White accepts a kiss of gratitude from Phyllis for saving her and her pups.




alentine’s Day delivered an unusual present to me that would turn into a deeply heart-felt mission of love. It all started on the side of 54th Avenue in Indio, CA, between an orange grove and a maintenance building. While on my usual daily drive from the Polo Club to HITS I was confronted by the sight of a horribly emaciated little mixed breed Corgi with a distended belly and big swollen teats. She was clearly on the side of the road looking for food. Over the next couple of days, I brought her dried kibbles and water and I was so moved by her sweet, trusting demeanor. Each day I would stop and remove another section of old rope that was tied around her neck. She was apparently chewing through it in order to free herself because someone was trying to keep her from wandering. Why would a momma want to leave her babies, other than to find food? And, what are the odds that she was out on the side of this road when I happen to be driving by three days in a row? It was on the third day of my visit to her that I was able to watch her crawl through a hole in a tall security fence and trot around the back of a commercial building. There, under a metal box, was her nest of eight newly whelped pups, in nothing more than a hole she had dug in the sand. I spied a tree that had the other end of the recognizable rope that I had freed from her neck. There was not a container of food or water anywhere. I was getting concerned, especially several days later, when I saw that she had now been chained, unable to chew herself free. I never saw a person around this building but it was obvious that someone was making an effort to keep her there. Again, I saw no food or water. I made several calls to the local animal control but highly doubted that situation was a top priority as the Coachella Valley has tremendous problems with feral dog packs.

As our horse show schedule advanced, the “Coachella Crud,” that infamous respiratory infection that is so common in the desert, struck me. Needless to say, it was all I could do to get my horses and students into the ring. My quest to help this little canine family had to be put on the back burner. We were slated to head home to Colorado on March 4th, and by this time my groom, Amanda, was also sick. We were both physically dragging and exhausted as we wrapped up our very successful show jumping circuit. We headed home to Colorado with a rig full of winning horses but I wasn’t happy. All

The universe works in strange ways. I am so grateful to Kim Garsed, who owns and operates The Urban Dog, a successful doggie day care center in LA. She has had so much practice at getting pets away from bad owners and so I asked her to go with me to track down the people responsible for the care of these dogs and try to take them away to a better life. Kim worked her magic, and though my heart sank for a moment when negotiations wavered, we left with eight puppies in a box and mom, a wiggly bag of sharp bones in my arms. The puppies were amazingly healthy and they were hungry—but not nearly as much as their malnourished mother. It was so gratifying to watch them all eat! Afterwards, with full bellies, each one of them looked into my eyes like old souls. They happily stayed in my horse trailer for two days at the showgrounds until I was ready to head home. I bought a playpen for them to ride in and put it in the dressing room of the trailer for the trip to Colorado. Thank goodness we were traveling in warm weather. I named the mother Phyllis, and gave her to my best friend Andrea when I arrived in Colorado. She immediately took her to the vet for a check up and to treat an infection. Over the next two weeks, I was overwhelmed with all the people who networked to help me find homes for the babies. I knew I could count on my horse friends and sure enough, almost like magic, the puppy’s future owners came forward, one by one. I am so grateful to those folks for taking these beautiful pups and giving them kind and safe homes. We had a very successful show circuit at Thermal, and we came home with many ribbons and winning horses. But I have to say that bringing back these neglected puppies and their mother was one of the most satisfying victories I have ever had at a horse show.

“While on my usual daily drive I was confronted by the sight of a horribly emaciated little mixed breed Corgi with a distended belly and big swollen teats.”


I felt was a heavy pit in my stomach. I had failed to help a little dog and her babies. I didn’t have much hope that another caring person would find the pups in the back of that maintenance yard. For the next ten days I was settling back into my home routine but I couldn’t shake the memory of that little momma dog looking up into my eyes with so much gratitude and trust as she ate the food I brought her. As luck would have it, or perhaps destiny, two weeks later I found myself driving back out to Indio for the Junior Polo Tournament. This was my second chance to follow through in rescuing these dogs and I was determined to do, what I physically couldn’t two weeks earlier.



1. Little pup “Elvis,” with his new mom Brittany. 2. “Jango,” with his new humans Margi and Carley. 3. “Easter” with her new family, the Briddles.


4. Sam, with his new boy “Whopper.” 5. With ribs protruding, the hungry mother and her babies eat voraciously. 6. Mathew holds his new pup, “Pippin.”


7. Momma “Phyllis,” and her new caretaker Andrea. 8. Tracye and sweet “Bailey.” 9. Katie gets a kiss from her new baby girl, Ruby Tuesday.




6 7


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