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NEWS & VIEWS FROM THE SADDLE HUB

November 2016

Carriage Driving 101

Awesome Chelsea Gatti

Heavy Horses in Australia

Variables of Saddle Value

Hub Hero Sharon Slater

and PLENTY more!


2 FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH

4 HEAVY HORSES IN AUSTRALIA

6 WHEN TO CALL YOUR DENTIST FOR YOUR FOAL

9 HUB HERO SHARON SLATER

11 PARA-EQUESTRIAN CHELSEA

15 YOUNG RIDER OF THE MONTH

16 CARRIAGE DRIVING 101

18 VARIABLES OF SADDLE VALUE

21 HUBVIBES NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

22 A READER'S STORY

24 POLICE HORSES

Front Cover Credit: Stephen Mowbray Photography

NEWS & VIEWS FROM THE SADDLE HUB Editorial & Advertising Enquiries: penny@thesaddlehub.com.au The Saddle Hub Sales Enquiries: Fiona Todd: 0414 760 067 Graphic Design: Joanna Reid: 0408 773 851 Published by The Saddle Hub PO Box 13 • Tintenbar NSW 2478 Phone: 0414 760 067 • Email: info@hubvibes.com.au www.thesaddlehub.com.au

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Hub Hero, Sharon Slater from Sydney, Winner of the recent Showcase of Showjumping World Cup Qualifier in October 2016


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Well, what a month October has been for The Saddle Hub team! We welcomed two new babies into the world, a handsome black Don Gold colt and a beautiful bay Baluga filly. Such gorgeous little things, not to mention time wasters, they are! We have also smashed all of our goals for rehoming preloved saddles as well as the goals for hits on our website. If you want to leverage some of that power for your business, join the businesses on the Hub Directory who are reaping the benefits of the more than 50,000 hits The Saddle Hub is getting every month, a number that is growing at an amazing rate. We thoroughly enjoyed catching up with friends at the Showcase of Showjumping at Sydney, including this month’s Hub Hero, Sharon Slater, winner of the World Cup Qualifier. Especially entertaining were the “Flying Frenchmen”; who’d have guessed showjumping could be improved by young, rather attractive French men in their underwear?! We shared some footage on our Facebook page and it’s worth checking out. Nothing short of hilarious!

Thoroughbred (or OTTTB) for the hack ring. If you have a story you would like to tell, or know of someone else who has a great story, we’d love to hear from you. We are looking for regular contributions from our readers to include every month so please get in touch. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to a great November and catching up with you at Equitana in Melbourne! Happy riding! The Saddle Hub Team

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This month in HubVibes, we have a look at the history of heavy horses in Australia and also talk to Lorraine Cairns about the challenges and triumphs of carriage driving. Ellie Sales talks about her experience of the benefits of working with your horse at liberty and Julie Legg from Tui Lodge gives us some pointers on how to produce your off the track

HubVibes editor Penny Newbold with Kalimna Allegro and beautiful Don Gold colt, Donny Black, born 25/10.

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Photos courtesy of Gatton Heavy Horse Field Days and Percheron Horse Breeders Association Australia Inc.

Exciting times for

HEAVY HORSES

in Australia Written by Kirsty McKenna with content supplied by GHHFD

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Originally bred across the world for numerous uses from war horses to heavy agricultural work, heavy horses are now making a comeback and proving their versatility as both a work and pleasure horse, with many pure and cross breeds competing at high levels in dressage, eventing and competitive carriage driving.

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There are more than 30 Draught Breeds worldwide, in Australia the most common breeds are Clydesdale, Percheron, Shire and Australian Draught Horse. With an increasing number of heavy horses being imported into the country each year and the availability of imported frozen semen, Australia is making its mark on the world stage, breeding arguably some of the finest heavy horses in the world.

The Clydesdale The Clydesdale Horse is one of the major heavy horse breeds of the world and has its origins in the Valley of the Clyde, Lanarkshire, Scotland. In Australia, numbers of heavy horses remained fairly low until the mid 1850’s however our conditions favoured a horse which was strong, long-lasting and having a quick, long stride. It’s for this reason, the Clydesdale soon came to exert its supremacy in Australia, a supremacy maintained without falter for over 150 years. Standing at about 16-17hh and weighing in at some 800kg or more, the Clydesdale is noted for its pleasant combination of weight and power on one hand, and fineness and activity on the other. The Clydesdale is noted for its


quiet docile temperament giving rise to the phrase “The Gentle Giant”.

The Percheron The Percheron Horse originated in the small district of La Perche in North-Western France. Here the Arabian horses abandoned by the defeated Moors at the Battle of Tours in 732AD were crossed with the massive Flemish stock, native to the rich, fertile province of Flanders. From this cross came the Percheron

type, which has endured for twelve centuries. Today in Australia it is estimated there are close to 1,000 purebred Percheron horses, with numerous crossbreds. Known as the versatile draught horse, the Percheron has undertaken every role from war horse, coach horse, farm horse, to gun horse and riding horse.

The Australian Draught Horse

Most working horses in Australia in the past were not purebred. It is horse which was bred for the harsh Australian conditions and has

The Shire The Shire Horse is the English breed of draught horse, renowned for its size and presence, and with long silky feather (hair)

on its legs. The Shire has white socks and are usually black, bay, brown and grey with a white blaze. The breed traces its ancestry back to the 1066, when the Normans from France conquered and settled Britain. The breed was first a heavy war horse, carrying knights and cavalry into battle at the trot. In 1880, the official Stud Book commenced in the UK and the breed soon became officially known as the ‘Shire Horse’, because they were primarily bred and worked in the British Shire counties. Although Shire Horses were imported into Australia in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s to carry out farm and cart work, they proved to Continued on page 19

H U BV I B ES M AG A Z I N E

The Australian Draught horse is the result of more than a century of mixed breeding of heavy working horses. In 1979 the Australian Draught Horse Stud Book Society was officially formed.

evolved from crossing the four recognised pure breeds of draught horse found in Australia – the Clydesdale, Percheron, Suffolk and the Shire, with some Belgian lines occasionally found. The Australian Draught will carry the characteristics of all those pure breeds.

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When to Call the Dentist for Your Foal OF ALL THE DOMESTICATED ANIMALS, HORSES SEEM TO BE MOST PRONE TO DEVELOPMENT OF DENTAL ABNORMALITIES FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS. Their teeth start to protrude through the gums at or soon after birth (the deciduous or milk teeth), and up to 24 of these deciduous teeth will erupt during the first year of life. All of these teeth are replaced during the time up to 5 years of age.

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It is easy to see that there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong during dental development if there is not regular care and attention paid to the mouth and its associated structures in the growing horse.

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Horse owners should ensure that their horses have oral and dental examinations, coupled with complete clinical examinations on a regular basis. These examinations should begin early, and continue for the remainder of the horse's life. In most situations, dental examinations are best carried out with the horse under sedation. There should be a complete visual and manual inspection of every tooth and the surrounding structures. All abnormalities and

treatments should be noted in a written clinical record for future reference.

From birth to 12 months of age At or soon after birth, foals will have a total of 16 teeth present - four incisors or front teeth, and 12 premolars or back teeth. At four to six weeks, four more incisors will erupt through the gum, and at approximately six to nine months the last set of deciduous incisors will erupt. Around the same time, wolf teeth will erupt if the horse is to have them. Wolf teeth are small teeth that are situated in front of the upper cheek teeth. These teeth are vestigial, that is, they serve no purpose and may interfere with bitting of the horse. It is advisable to remove wolf teeth while the horse is still young as these teeth will eventually fuse with the bones of the skull making extraction far more difficult as the horse gets older. Twelve months is an ideal


time to check for and extract wolf teeth. Dental problems can be congenital, that is present at birth. Examples include brachygnathism or parrot mouth (overbite) and prognathism or sow mouth (underbite). These conditions can sometimes be treated, but to do so they must be diagnosed very early on. For this reason foals should be examined soon after birth. Twelve months is an ideal time to begin routine dental examinations and treatment as the soft cheek teeth will be wearing each other

good time to ensure that normal eruption is occurring and to identify any other problems. Dental abnormalities can reduce weight gain by up to 30% which can have long lasting effects on a horse during this critical development period.

From 1 year to 6 years of age During this period horses will shed their 24 deciduous first set of teeth and up to 44 permanent teeth will erupt through the gums. Common problems during this period are formation of sharp enamel points and deciduous or baby teeth that fail to shed correctly (retained caps). Early development of more serious cheek teeth changes and malocclusions such as: • hooks and ramps (overgrowths of the first or last cheek teeth) • waves (uneven grinding surfaces of the cheek teeth arcades) • impaction or overcrowding of teeth preventing normal eruption. These can be identified and treated through examinations every six months.

At twelve months of age the first of the permanent cheek teeth erupts so it is a

Article courtesy of VetZone and Equine Veterinarians Australia

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leading to formation of sharp points. Sharp points on the upper cheek teeth can lacerate the inside of the cheeks, and on the lower teeth can lacerate the sides of the tongue. This causes pain for the horse due to ulceration of the cheeks and tongue. Changes in the way the horse eats due to this pain can affect weight gains, and change the wear patterns of teeth leading to dental abnormalities.

It is also important during this time to ensure all horses have a thorough oral examination and any necessary treatments before beginning their education and breaking in. Failure to do so can lead to the development of behavioural changes associated with oral pain and the negative experiences can have lifelong consequences for both horse and handler.

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Life After the Racetrack People often ask us what the secret is to producing off the trackers and we always say it’s just simple, good old common sense. Firstly, you need to start with a well conformed horse. I’ve yet to see a well put together horse move badly! Add in a great temperament and attitude to work and you’re half way there. Most horses really do just want to please and if you can show them what is required, they are usually happy to oblige. All of the off the trackers that come to us start at the same

place, with the basics: • Teeth - bad teeth cause so many of the issues we see in horses today. It’s amazing to see the effect of a visit by a good dentist can have on a horse’s temperament, let alone condition and muscle tone. • Worming - everything that comes onto the property is wormed regardless of their last drench, and then fitted into our program. • Feed - good quality, balanced feed is essential. We are lucky enough to work with Mitavite, who are an endless source of information and help when

it comes to our horse’s nutritional needs. • Feet - as the old saying goes “no foot no horse” and it’s important they're balanced and well supported. • Mouthing - so important and makes it much easier and less time consuming in the long run, if they learn early on that they can work soft, round and forward, without the added pressure of a rider. By the time our lovely OTTBs are ready to ride they have let down well, understand our routine and have settled into out busy environment. Its very rewarding seeing them go from track to hack with their new owners. Written by Julie Legg

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HUB HERO NOVEMBER Five minutes with SHOW JUMPER

Sharon Slater

Q1. What is your most memorable moment in your equestrian career?

Q3. What’s the most unusual item in your tack box?

Probably winning the first Hermes Grand Prix class held at Moore Park in Sydney with Jox in the late 90’s. It was a fabulous venue and lots of spectators. It wasn’t until after I had won that I realised it was worth $7500! Hermes became my sponsors for the next 2 years.

Not unusual for me, but other people often look surprised! Ontyte magnetic stirrups. I have never lost a stirrup in the ring since wearing them!

Q2. Which is your all-time favourite horse?

Trainer and rider Michel Robert. Q5. Your best advice for an aspiring World Cup show jumping rider is… There are no short cuts to success, you need to work hard, look after your horses and pay attention to the details. You can learn from anyone, so keep your mind open.

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I think CP Ulixes is my favourite. He took me back to jumping in World Cups after a 12 year break at that level. It is a bit like comparing your children though, you love them all for different qualities.

Q4. If you could train with anyone in the world, past or present, who would you choose?

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H U BV I B ES M AG A Z I N E

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Para-equestrian Chelsea, has her eye one the prize.

side isn’t satisfactory or if his quarters are trailing in our lateral work - it’s just an extension of my leg and only used when required. “I do the majority of my competitions on Russell and are currently competing Elementary level, he is coming along quite well and receiving great scores and lovely comments from the judges.” Even though Chelsea is eligible to compete in the para-equestrian classes, she chooses to compete as an open rider. “I competed solely in para classes when I was ten, but

Thirteen year old para-equestrian Chelsea Gatti is blitzing the Dressage arena on her two horses, Russell and Crikey. Like many young girls her age, Chelsea is horse crazy and has big dreams of competing in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

“He was a lovely four year old Australian pony that had a lovely quiet nature, easy going personality and was very trainable. Originally we leased him and when the opportunity arose to purchase, we snapped him up. We’ve been together for eight years – we have grown up together. “Because I don’t have the use of a right leg, I ride with the aid of a whip on that side. Russell listens to my seat and thigh but if he misses my aid I gently tap him with the whip. I’ll usually do this if I find his flexion on that

Continued on page 23

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H U BV I B ES M AG A Z I N E

When Chelsea was born, her right leg was underdeveloped and at the tender age of 17 months, it was amputated to ensure her quality of life was not affected. This has never held her back though and with her Mother’s passion for horses, it was only natural for Chelsea would follow suit and take the reins from an early age.

“When I was five Russell came into my life and my mum thought it was an opportunity too good to miss,” explains Chelsea.

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Listing Your Business

The Hub Directory is an online equine services directory, accessed through The Saddle Hub website. Launched this August in direct response to ever-increasing customer enquiries, listings are already steadily growing.

Why it works - the proof! The numbers speak for themselves of this fast growing and unique brand, The Saddle Hub: • Website: over 1,500 hits per day, over 40,000 per month • Facebook: over 10,000 “likes” on The Saddle Hub page, plus Hub Directory and HubVibes pages growing daily • Our posts reach beyond 500,000 people every month!

Our Rates 1 MONTH: $33 3 MONTHS: $91 Prices include GST

6 MONTHS: $167

12 MONTHS: $310

How to list your business 1. Simply go to our website: www.thesaddlehub.com.au 2. Click through to the Hub Directory page and select Create a Listing 3. Select a Service Category (you can add to this later). 4. Choose which Listing Period you want. 5. Fill in the Form (fields with * are required) and tick the terms and conditions box. 6. You can upload an image or logo (note file size requirements). 7. Make a payment using PayPal.

All done!

You’ll be notified when your listing is approved and we’ll start promoting your service or business on our Facebook page.


A 3 Tiered Attack Plan for an Itchy Horse This 3 tiered plan of attack will help reduce the effects of Queensland Itch. In severe cases always speak with your Vet or Equine specialist. 1. PREVENTION Light weight rugs and insect repellents can help prevent insect attacks in the first place. Location is also relevant but it’s not always easy to move even if you do discover your favourite horse is susceptible to itch. 2. EXTERNAL TREATMENT By using products such as oils and lotions that are

designed to hydrate and nourish the skin the extent of irritation can be managed. There are many great natural products available as well as the more hard core chemical options. A suitable shampoo can sometimes help too but washing your horse more than once a week can strip the natural oils out of the coat and not be helpful. 3. INTERNAL SUPPLEMENTS By making sure your horse has the right balance of nutrients in it's diet you can help build it's own natural defence system.

There are several great Australian-made mineral supplements available and over time they can make a dramatic improvement to the skin condition of your horse. People often add simple things such as garlic granules or apple cider vinegar to the diet with varying results. Queensland Itch is not something that can be easily fixed, but in most cases it can be managed well, so that your horse is not spending its summer constantly looking for something to scratch on.

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H U BV I B ES M AG A Z I N E

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If you are a young competition rider and would like to be considered for HubVibes Young Rider of the Month email us your answers to the same questions we asked Alistair, along with a great pic of you and your horse. We can’t wait to hear from you! Name: Alistair Schramm Age: 18 Discipline: Dressage Horse/s: My 13 year old thoroughbred gelding: Zero Degrees (Sweeny). Past achievements: Competing at the Sydney CDI this year and placing 3rd in the CDI Y Individual test against the best Young Riders in the country. Also knowing that I have brought my thoroughbred from prelim to small tour.

Future goals: Successfully competing in young rider classes next year. To be in contention for the Youth Olympics 2018. Future Goals: To ride Grand Prix dressage and one day represent Australia. Best advice: Trust your training. It reminds me not to stress about the test in the warm-up ring, that all the hard work has been done at home and to trust myself and my incredible horse.

Come and have a chat about how we can help you find a home for your pre-loved saddle, or check out the saddles we currently have available. We can also answer all your questions about our HUB DIRECTORY and HUBVIBES E-zine. N O V E M B E R T R A D E S TA L L Equitana Melbourne Showground ............. 17 - 20th NOVEMBER

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Carriage DRIVING 101

What You Need to Know Carriage driving is a competitive equestrian sport, yet not many horse enthusiasts know much about it. We catch up with Australian Champion Lorraine Cairns, to find out more about driving. “Driving is a really thrilling sport that involves a carriage being pulled by a single horse or pony, a pair or a team of four and they face three trials – dressage, marathon and obstacle driving,” Lorraine explains.

phase tests the horse’s obedience and fitness as well as the judgement of pace and control of the driver and driver’s assistant, called a backstepper, as they navigate roads and tracks peppered with obstacles.

“I was encouraged by a friend to give the sport a go and was instantly hooked, it is similar to eventing but you’re driving the horse instead of riding. I find the three phases really exciting.”

These obstacles are a combination of natural and man-made materials, such as trees, water hazards or post and rail fences, and the team must find their way around and through them in a set formation. The marathon is not a race, however the team must complete their course to strict time frames else they risk penalties for being too fast or slow.

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The three phases of carriage driving

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Phase one is a dressage test which is undertaken in a 100m x 40m arena. Movements must be executed through memory (no callers allowed here!) and include circle work, serpentines and collection and extensions in walk, trot and canter. Phase two is the marathon which is similar to the cross country phase in eventing. This

Cones is the final phase of driving, which is similar to show jumping. Witches hats with balls on top are set up in a similar layout to a show jumping course and are only twenty centimetres wider than the carriage. Care must be taken when travelling through the witches hats as a disturbance of a ball will


Victor and Lorraine are the Australian Champions for Open Horse Singles result in a penalty. Speed, suppleness and accuracy are the key to this phase and a lot of attention must be given as the courses are usually quite technical and must be done at a good speed.

Successful partnerships Lorraine says that the key to carriage driving success is having a great team that can work together.

“The horse is obviously a big component, so a good temperament is crucial. Carriage horses put up with a lot during competitions; they have to be fit enough for the marathon

“My horse Victor has a great temperament; he makes me feel confident that we can enter a competition and give it a really good go. “I purchased him when I was in the United Kingdom in May 2012 and campaigned him all through the British summer – we did so well we qualified for, and competed in, the World Championships in Portugal that year and also in Hungary in 2014.” Lorraine’s coach is Boyd Exell, the current World Champion of Four-In-Hand Carriage Driving, so we have no doubt she is in good hands and poised to continue successfully with Victor. We wish Lorraine and Victor every success in their future driving endeavours. Want more information? Check out the Australian Carriage Driving Society’s webpage.

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“The driver and backstepper must work together while walking the courses to ensure that directions will be understood and costly mistakes are avoided – clear communication during the marathon phase is a must,” said Lorraine.

phase but obedient and sensible for dressage and cones.

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VARIABLES OF SADDLE VALUE Leather, Quality Control and Longevity

H U BV I B ES M AG A Z I N E

There is nothing quite like the patina of a quality leather hand crafted into a beautiful saddle. You can’t help but want to trail your fingers along its surface and while you aspire to have a saddle made with the best quality leather, you can’t help but wonder why the difference in price. Is it worth it? Or is the intoxicating smell of quality leather just that, intoxicating and with no justification. When it comes to leather however, your olfactory senses are not failing you. Quality leather is desirable for safety, longevity and comfort.

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not been sprayed or treated to cover a high level of damage. Once the hides are chosen the method of tanning and manufacture also greatly influence the quality of the leather produced. Vegetable tanning is a process that can take many months and is based on the tannins naturally found in barks and plants. The leather produced from vegetable tanning is generally considered more pliable and of better quality. Alternatively chrome based tanning is a quicker process using chromium salts to tan the hide. “Chromed” leather has a blue hue and while often used in quality saddles for girth points is not favoured elsewhere on these saddles. Being quicker and cheaper to produce however chrome leather may be found in cheaper saddles sprayed in the desired colour.

Choosing a quality leather begins with the animal from which the hide came from. Thicker/stronger hides typically come from older beasts, that were slow grown (grass fed rather than feedlot with cattle), colder Quality full grain leather Leather swatches. climates, no excessive fat with minimal blemishes coverage and few parasites demands a premium and such as ticks or lice that damage the hide comes at a cost. So often leather is “prodirectly or irritate the animal to scratch and cessed” to imitate this quality product at a mark the skin. Scars from cuts and scrapes lesser price. Top grain leather is leather that will all diminish the hide value, although no has been split to make softer and pliable and hide is totally blemish free so some marks often sanded to remove flaws, an artificial are to be expected on even the best full grain grain may then be pressed in to imitate the hides and indeed indicate that the leather has full grain leather. Splitting and sanding in top The author Kathryn Sullivan-Butt is “The Saddlefitter” a Society of Master Saddlers Qualified fitter, ASFA fitter and an EA accredited coach. With formal saddle and saddlefit training in Australia, UK, US and Europe she is fortunate to have had the opportunity to train under some of the industry’s most respected leaders. She fits full time in South-East Queensland.


grain leather has the potential to weaken the leather which may affect its long term durability. When colouring drum dyed leather has a colour that permeates through the leather and over the years acquired a rich patina as opposed to leather sprayed with a colour that may affect breathability, rub through and be used to cover blemishes in the leather.

a hide. Belly leather (while still useful in certain parts of a saddle) would not be used in a quality saddle in areas of high wear or where strength required as it is a thinner leather prone to stretching… but being cheaper may be found in saddles where manufacturers are less demanding. Quality leather is always beautiful.

Even once processed (and assuming only the best quality hide chosen and highest level of tanning applied), the section of the hide used will affect the value and longevity of the saddle. The strongest part of the hide is found in the butt section (butt leather) which is generally considered the premium leather in

Finally as any good saddle craftsman knows, no amount of quality workmanship will “rescue” a product made from inferior leather. Poor quality leather will always result in an inferior saddle. A master craftsman wants his tack to age beautifully and give years of service – for this reason he will choose leather as good as the budget allows. In this when choosing a saddle we should take the same approach.

Continued from page 5 - Heavy Horse in Australia be not so suitable for work in the harsh Australian environment.

in Australia and in 2017 will be celebrating their 40th Anniversary.

Sadly, in the 1920’s, registered Shire Horses died out in Australia until they were slowly reintroduced with the importation of two stallions and a number of mares during the 1980’s.

It is always a wonderful family outing and a fantastic opportunity to see working exhibitions and displays of Heavy Horses in action, from beautiful harness displays, working teams, obstacle courses, breed judging and ridden events.

Gatton Clydesdale and Heavy Horse Field Day Held in May each year in Gatton QLD is the Clydesdale and Heavy Horse Field Days, showcasing some of the finest Heavy Horses

Interested in finding out more information? Check out the following websites: www.clydesdalehorse.com.au shirehorsesociety.com.au www.gattonnheavyhorses.com.au www.percheron.com.au australiandraughthorse.com

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The Shire breed now has an Australian Shire Horse Stud Book and an Australian Official Panel of Judges, and numbers have built up to about 300. However the Shire Horse is still a very rare horse in Australia.

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Next month in

….

Blind rider Sue-Ellen

Lovett's Championship Performance Feeding your foal for maximum nutrition and growth Caring for your horse over summer Equitana round-up Lots of great ideas for Christmas

HUBVIBE’S NEW KID ON THE BLOCK Meet Dannii Cunnane, the newest addition to our Saddle Hub Team. Dannii is a freelance writer who conducts interviews and writes stories for HubVibes. By day, Dannii provides communications advice, publications and writes strategies for large companies, but by night she is often found in the dressage arena training her beloved Thoroughbred, Dexter Fletcher. “I’m so lucky to be able to combine my passion for horses into my work here at HubVibes headquarters,” Dannii explains. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to speak to some of Australia’s greatest and up-and-coming talents, as well as learning more about other equestrian disciplines along the way.”

we started winning our tests against the big Warmbloods. I moved back to Australia and purchased Dexter Fletcher in 2010. He had just finished his career as a racehorse and we had a long way to go to make him into a dressage mount, but he has really come along this season. When I’m not riding I’ll be following up on stories, so feel free to contact me and let me know if you have an idea for an article or there is a particular discipline you’d like to know more about.” Contact: Follow Dannii on Instagram or send an email: editorial@thesaddlehub.com.au.

“I took dressage lessons and at first I thought the flatwork was boring, but the sport really grew on me. I purchased a little Welsh pony in 2003 called Modderbeek’s Chico and started competing. It was awesome when

Dannii with Dexter Fletcher

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Dannii is no stranger to horses, having started riding at a young age. Moving to The Netherlands in 2002 gave her a taste of dressage and she has been hooked ever since.

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The group dynamics in a herd of horses has always intrigued me. They often communicate by means of a somewhat ‘liberal force’. Their gestures towards each other can be so subtle; a swish of a tail or rotation of ears, yet so effective.

A Reader’s Story: My Experience With Training at Liberty Ellie Sales Conventional methods of handling horses are often associated with the physical force of ropes, for instance the use of a head collar and lead rope. The contrast between traditional horse handling and the ways horses liaise with each other fascinated me.

help Monte understand my new cues. After a few short sessions, I had completely replaced the force of ropes with voice cues and gestures from my hands and a whip. Over time I increased the difficulty by adding obstacles such as jumps or barrels. Eventually I had Monte walking, trotting and cantering beside me, backing up, moving sideways and circling me all without physical aids.

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It sparked a desire to test the boundaries of the connection I had with my horse and attempt to mimic the liberal communication I observed between horses in a paddock. This is how I started to work my horse, Monte, at liberty.

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The principle behind liberty is simple; connect with a horse in a way that is similar to how they connect with each other, however it is easy to become overwhelmed and not know where to start. I decided to break everything down into simple steps. I wanted to make my sessions fun and easy for the horse. I set small, achievable goals such as “to get my horse to follow me when I walk forward.” At first, I kept the halter and lead attached to

I achieved all of this through simple ‘pressure’ and ‘release’ techniques. To ask him to walk on I would click my tongue, wave my whip towards his hind and step forwards. If he chose not to follow, I would make my cues bigger and louder. As soon as any attempt was made, I would stop and release the ‘pressure’. If he chose to run away from me, I would increase my energy and chase him before inviting him back. He quickly learnt that it was much easier to make the choice to stay with me then to leave.


Trick training brought an entirely new dimension to the liberty work. My intentions were to invest further in the relationship I had with Monte and solidify his trust in me as a leader. I started off with simple tricks such as a kiss, hug and paw. For example, to teach the paw I used my whip to tap his leg and stopped tapping as soon as he made an attempt to move. Initially I rewarded any kind of movement, but after he started to understand I would only ‘release’ the ‘pressure’ when he moved his leg in a pawing motion. The bow and the lie down were more difficult to teach, required more time and bigger

rewards. I was asking my horse to put himself in awkward and vulnerable positions. At times I found myself frustrated when he didn’t understand what I was asking. I found that if he sensed I was angry or tense he became less willing and unmotivated. This encouraged me to frequently self-reflect, and not be afraid to change my attitude or try alternate methods. In the end it wasn’t just about training or communication, it was self-improvement. Training Monte at liberty was an investment in our relationship. We found a mutual respect where my horse learnt to trust in my leadership, and I learnt to improve my communication.

Continued from page 11 - Para-equestrian Chelsea decided to try open classes as there were higher entries,” Chelsea said.

With the competition season coming to an end, Chelsea is looking forward to having a break over the summer.

“Dressage is all about training to improve on your scores, but I found I was often the only entry in my para classes and I wanted to push myself to see how my scores ranged against other riders. I feel equal when I’m riding my horse and we use every test to improve our partnership.

With big shoes to fill, Chelsea’s Anglo Arab Crikey is also on the path to becoming her next superstar. “Crikey was previously an

endurance horse, but I’m developing his flat work and having fun taking him out to our competitions,” Chelsea said. “I’ve owned him for a year so we have only been a combination for a short time, but he is showing great potential in the Novice classes and holding his own against more seasoned horses.”

“We have competed most weekends so I know Russell will appreciate a rest. It will be nice to have a little bit of time off to relax, reflect and then get back out there in 2017 to see if we can beat our current personal best scores and work towards my dream of competing in the Paralympics.” Would you like to know more about Chelsea and Russell? Why not follow their Facebook page which has regular updates on their journey.

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“I recently competed at the 2016 Queensland State Pony Dressage Championships at Toowoomba and came home with a fourth place against some very talented horses and riders. I am so proud of our achievement.”

“We have had a hectic few months with lots of competitions taking place over a short period of time,” Chelsea said.

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POLICE HORSES: the long hoof of the law Interested in the mounted police and their horses? Ever wondered what role they play in law enforcement? We caught up with Senior Sergeant Mark Paroz, to find out more about the Queensland Mounted Police Unit. “People used to think that police horses are only used for ceremonial occasions, but that’s not true,” explains Sen-Sgt Paroz. “Police horses are used for a variety of jobs, which include crowd management, mounted searches and operational patrols. Being on top of the horse gives the officer height and visibility to see what is going on across a wide area; which is handy for spotting trouble and reacting quickly in situations that require crowd management.

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“Horses are also able to access areas that vehicles may not be able to get to and move at speed if required, so they are a great asset to our police team.”

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The Queensland Mounted Police Unit is based in the picturesque suburb of Moggill, which is 19 kilometres from Brisbane’s CBD. With 20 acres that is home to 17 special horses on active duty, there is never a dull moment around the office. “Our officers have a mixture of tasks when working at our unit. Each morning starts with feeding horses and cleaning stables, followed

by riding and then performing general officer duties” said Sen-Sgt Paroz. “We work the horses every day and pay particular attention to their sensory training. We expose them to new sights and sounds so they are used to it when out on the beat.” Not all horses are cut out for police work. Horses with calm temperaments are chosen so the officers can trust their horses to remain obedient in challenging situations. “The important thing about police horses is that they are quiet; we are putting them into situations that are not natural and asking them to do a job where their riders are police officers first and equestrians second. The rider must be able to trust the horse to remain obedient at all times,” said Sen-Sgt Paroz. “We do not have a certain breed that we use, our stables have a mixture of quarter horses, stock horses, thoroughbreds and heavy horse crosses. “As long as the horse is over 16hh and can undertake the job without being silly is all that matters.” Want to know more? Why not follow the QPS Mounted Unit through their blog: http://mypolice.qld.gov.au/mountedpolice Above: Sen. Sgt. Paroz on chestnut horse with blaze.


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NEWS & VIEWS FROM THE SADDLE HUB Published by The Saddle Hub • PO Box 13 • Tintenbar NSW 2478 Phone: 0414 760067 • Email: info@thesaddlehub.com.au www.thesaddlehub.com.au

HubVibes November 2016  
HubVibes November 2016  

News and views from the Australian equine community.