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FALL 2016

The Railbird


Fourlegged legends Taking education trackside The Artful Horse visits Saratoga Equinomics: Racing + NY = $1B

Ride Better


Secrets Worth Stealling

Horsepower & Starpower $4.99







In association with the NYS Center for Equine Business Development

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Head trainer, USDF silver medalist Kimberley Dougherty

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Where Your Journey is Our Destination

Canterbury Stables, 4786 Roberts Road, Cazenovia, NY • Online: • Call: 315-440-2244 Ask about our after-school program!



The Railbird Report The flash of silks, the two-dollar dreams, the pounding of hooves and hearts in the stretch … the adrenaline-driven world of racing took New York Horse behind the scenes and behind the stories


The Artful Horse

High stakes, high fashion and high-octane horses: It could only be Saratoga


EQ Style

Usher in autumn with a winning trifecta of cocktails


The Gutsy Gelding, the Galloping Hat Rack and Zippy Chippy

One of these things – as they say on Sesame Street – is not like the other



Why racing matters to NY’s economy


In the starting gate

Morrisville College students are on track for Thoroughbred careers

Also in this issue


“Only perfect practice makes perfect”

Post-Olympics, Beezie Madden talks about riding and the pursuit of excellence


The Perfect Horse

A pre-purchase exam – covering conformation to character – is an important consideration 2 NEW YORK HORSE


The Guide 61 66 67 70

Secrets Worth Stealing

Reining Hall of Famer Rocky Dare on mastering slides, circles and spins How-To

Fly like an elite equine (Hint: make sure that haynet can be returned to an upright position) Ride Better

From the saddle up, says Olympian Lisa Wilcox, “nothing moves” The Scorecard

A Western dressage judge says more honesty is needed at shows

Departments 8 11 12


House Calls

Cornell vets explain what’s behind your horse’s bellyache

On the Cover

Alyson Markell’s fine art monoprint “The Race” captures, in color and line, the excitement of watching Thoroughbreds thunder down the track. “Once I put ink to paper, I let the lines inform my image and it springs from there,” says Markell. Look for her artwork in the gallery at 20/East, located on Route 20 East – natch – in Cazenovia, and online at


14 16 18 20 22 24 72

Editor’s Note Thanks To Our Underwriters Calendar

A full slate of shows and clinics; Roadtrip heads to Massachusetts for an Equine Affaire Leg Up

News, Notes and Conversation Starters Guest Column

Why cleaning up racing is easier said than done Fair Update

New horse show venue ‘not in the current plan,’ but Coliseum work completed Doing Good

For equine therapy volunteer, giving back is the new black Armchair Equestrian

How the “Perfect Horse” was saved from the Nazi war machine Newsmaker

Begin Again Horse Rescue wins $10,000 and saves Jolene the Mammoth Mule

Parting Shot

The back of the track at Saratoga



The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way ~toDamonbet” Runyon


ncle Nat was a product of the Lower East Side, a character straight out of Damon Runyon by way of Delancey Street. He started his working life as a streetcar conductor in Manhattan, went on to start a button company, and then fell into a pile of money. (The exact circumstances were never made completely clear, but generally involved a lot of shrugging, eye rolling and gesturing toward the heavens by his seven brothers and sisters.) When he came through the Great Depression with his money intact, Uncle Nat made a solemn oath: From that point forward he would dedicate the rest of his life to giving his money to the ponies – one two-dollar bet at a time. Cigar in one hand, fistful of singles in the other, neither snow nor rain nor gloom of wife could keep him from his appointed rounds at the Belmont or Aqueduct clubhouse. He never worked another day, not counting his never-ending battle with the track handicappers. Only one family member shared his interest in watching Thoroughbreds run counterclockwise: His

great-niece, who loved horses from the moment she was strapped into her first saddle and discovered that with the help of those leather straps in her hands – Reins! Yes! – she could persuade the pony-ride pony to go round and round instead of back to his stall until the pony-ride manager snarled something like “Hey! Hasn’t that kid been here a while?” And so I became his sidekick. Uncle Nat was into his third decade as dedicated railbird by the time I joined the team. The track is educational, he said to the family’s raised eyebrows. A few times a year we’d drive to Big A in his Cadillac where he’d hand me a program, two bucks and strict instructions: Don’t tell anyone. I was allowed to bet on whatever horse I wanted and keep the winnings. It was understood that if someone wondered how it was I left with Chap Stick in my pocket and came back with a wad of cash, the answer was never to explain that Candy Spots paid $10 to place. And darned if Uncle Nat wasn’t right; the track was educational. I learned mathematics and probability. (If a horse goes off at 8/5, what will he return on a $2 wager?) I learned equine anatomy. (If a horse starts a race with four legs, how can he run as if he only has three legs?) I learned creative sentence construction and word combinations, and that a 7 and 7 was the only fit drink for man or beast. (Women were on their own.) And I learned this: Live life on your own terms. Root for the underdog. Bet on the favorite. Don’t tell anyone.





Alyson Markell


onoprinting is the art form employed by our cover artist Alyson Markell. It’s a technique, she says, that allows her to explore the potential for the unexpected. “Monotypes are a blend of painting and drawing,” says Markell. The ink is applied directly to the surface of a Plexiglas plate and the brushing and wiping of the ink creates a beautiful, spontaneous surface. Each print is done on archival paper and is a unique creation. “While the medium follows a structured process, the final outcome of the work is ultimately beyond your control,” Markell says. “What can I say? I like surprises!” Her background includes 10 years at Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic, where she created animal and human characters for dozens of hit movies. Trained as a sculptor, painter and modeler, Markell now works exclusively in monotype prints at her fine art studio in Cazenovia. “My subjects are typically horses, crows or figures,” Markell says. “I draw what I know well and what I love. When I start to draw, I am completely absorbed in the ink and as the form reveals itself, I feel that I become the creature I am creating.”

Give the Gift of Good Reading and Good Riding The perfect choice for anyone who’s ever owned, ridden or loved a horse. Name Address City State


Please send a check or money order for $12 to: New York Horse Box 556 Cazenovia, NY 13035 Save 40% off the cover price and receive a full year of beautiful photography, local stories, and the New York Horse Guide to tips, expert advice and secrets worth stealing. A 1-year subscription, four issues, is $12.

Editor & Publisher Janis Barth


New York Horse is published in part with underwriting support from: Canterbury Stables; Cazenovia College and the New York State Center for Equine Business Development; Nye Auto Group; Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC; New York State Fair; The Beattie Sanctuary; Madison County Tourism; Morrisville State College; New York Farm Bureau; Central New York Dressage and Combined Training Association; Central New York Reining Horse Association; From The Ground Up Therapeutic Horsemanship and New York State Horse Council.


Art Director Darren Sanefski

EDITORIAL Contributing Editor Renée K. Gadoua Contributing Writers

Contributing Photographers

Bill Flynn Renee K. Gadoua Emily Garavuso Glenye Cain Oakford LA Pomeroy Claudia Wheatley

Michelle Bloch Shawn McMillen Arnd Bronkhorst Tony Parkes Connie Bush PS Dressage Michael Davis James Shambhu Leanjo De Koster Jon Stroud


Advertising Director Peter K. Barth

New York Horse magazine is published quarterly by: Tremont8 Media, LLC Cazenovia, NY 13035 All rights reserved. ISSN 2375-8058. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the express consent of the publisher. All material submitted to the magazine becomes the property of Tremont8 Media. Submitted material may be excerpted or edited for length and content and may be published or used in any format or medium, including online or in other print publications. To subscribe: Write to New York Horse, P.O. Box 556, Cazenovia, NY 13035. Subscriptions are $12/year. Please include your name and address and a check or money order for the full amount. For gift subscriptions, include the name and address of each recipient and we will send a card in your name.

Sending a gift subscription? Include the name and address of each recipient and we will send a card that says who was thinking of them.

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SEPTEMBER 16-18 21-25 29-Oct. 2 30-Oct. 2 OCTOBER 6-7 8-9 15-16 15-16 20-23 22-23  23 NOVEMBER 11-13 11-13 12

NYS Horse Council annual meeting, Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack. Tour of Purple Haze Thoroughbred Adoption. More: Empire State Quarter Horse Association Fall Show, one of the Top 10 AQHA shows in the nation. Toyota Coliseum, Fairgrounds, Syracuse. More: Autumn in New York Horse Show. Toyota Coliseum, Fairgrounds, Syracuse. More: Fourth annual Donkey Welfare Symposium. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca. Open to the public. More:

37th annual NYS Draft Horse Club sale, fairgrounds, Cortland. Horses and equipment. More: NY Reined Cow Horse Association Cowgirl Classic. Cazenovia College Equine Center. More: Clinic with 2016 Olympic dressage judge Gary Rockwell, Canterbury Stables, Cazenovia. Auditors welcome. More:

Clinic with USDF instructor and dressage judge Bill McMullin. Deer Hollow Farm, Cazenovia. More: CNY Reining Horse Association Fall Classic and NE Affiliate Regional Championships. Toyota Coliseum, Fairgrounds, Syracuse. More:

British Dressage clinic with Grand Prix trainers Paul and Nikki Alvin-Smith. Finger Lakes Equestrian Center, Canandaigua. More:

Dressage seminar: From Crookedness to Straightness with FEI trainer Carel Eijkenaar. Voltra Farm, Verona. More: CNYD&CTA Year End Symposium, clinic and year-end banquet with Beth Baumert, editor Dressage Today and author of When Two Spines Align. More: Show jumping legend George Morris Clinic. Riders of all levels. Auditors. Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center. More information:

To submit events for the New York Horse Calendar, in print and online, send an email to:


Equine First Aid clinic. Learn what to do until the veterinarian arrives. Voltra Farm, Verona. More:


Indulge Your Passion for Horses at Equine Affaire


ound up your riding friends and barn mates and devote a roadtrip to horses and more horses at Equine Affaire, Nov. 10-13 at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA. Immerse yourself in clinics, seminars, and demonstrations by top trainers and industry experts. Explore new breeds of horses and riding disciplines. Shop for all of your equine and equestrian needs

or simply be entertained at Fantasia, Equine Affaire’s signature musical celebration of the horse. This year’s smorgasbord of 200 clinics, seminars, and demos will be presented by many of the nation’s premiere coaches, competitors, trainers, authors and judges. Regardless of your discipline, whether you’ve been riding since childhood or just starting out, you’ll find sessions to help you and your horse excel. Already scheduled are clinics on creating the picture-perfect hunter round,

improving your scores in Western pleasure, helping the nervous rider and gaining your horse’s respect. When your head is stuffed, shop for all things horse related in five exhibit halls with hundreds of vendors. In the market for a horse? New this year are “For Sale” stalls. For more information, including show hours, admission prices, directions, daily schedules, and tips for making the most of your visit, go to or call the show office weekdays at (740) 845-0085.

Leg Up

News, Notes and Conversation Starters Big Man on Campus: Morrisville College adds a champion stallion

Names in the News

Morrisville State College has added Third Straight, a former world champion pacer with earnings of $321,662 to its stallion roster. “Third Straight is a phenomenal horse and he is a great teaching point for our students,” said Erin Shantal, equine breeding manager at Morrisville. He is a Top 10 leading sire based on the average earnings per foal for 2015. All foals are NY Sire Stakes and Breeders Crown eligible. For more information, go to

Stay up to date on equine business at the NYSCEBD Facebook page The New York State Center for Equine Business Development is on Facebook. Follow the page for news items and updates on a wide range of topics of interest to the equine industry – from marketing, to legislative action, to horse health tips and research. “We hope that the NYSCEBD Facebook page can help connect people to information for a variety of sources that they might not ordinarily see,” said Barbara Lindberg, director of the equine business management program at Cazenovia College and the center’s interim director. The Center, based at the college, serves as a focal point and a voice for the industry.

The Wizard brings unique riding experience to Central New York The most advanced Racewood Equestrian Simulator in the northeast has arrived at Canterbury Stables, Cazenovia, providing a unique learning opportunity for riders. The ultimate schoolmaster, the Simulator – aka The Wizard – replicates the movement and response of a real 15.2 hand horse in the rider’s choice of either hunter/jumper or dressage. The computerized horse is capable of doing advanced movements, but is also schooled for beginners. The Wizard is fully interactive: A screen displays a show ring or cross-country course, the rider controls the horse, the screen displays the results, and the computerized diagnostic is available to take home. Aids are detected by sensors, and because Wizard never misbehaves, riders are free to concentrate on their balance, position and technique.

Cazenovia rider scores big at Reining Championship, heads to QH Worlds Dylan Dombrowski put in a top-notch run at the 2016 NRHA Collegiate Reining Championship, scoring 212 to tie for third overall. The Long Island native and Cazenovia College grad qualified for the championship with a top four finish at the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association nationals. “Dylan will be ‘somebody’ in this horse industry,” said Carla Wennberg, IHSA Western sponsors liaison. “He’s a great rider and one of those team members who is everyone’s teammate.” Up next: Dombrowski will be one of 16 riders competing for the title of Intercollegiate AQHA World Champion at the Quarter Horse World Show this November in Oklahoma.

Upstate charities benefit from concerts, gift from harness tracks’ owner Proceeds from late-summer concerts at Vernon and Tioga Downs, matched by gifts from track owner Jeff Gural, will benefit the Food Bank of Central New York and the Southern Tier Veteran’s Support Group. The Food Bank will receive $70,000 and STVSG will receive $100,530. 14 NEW YORK HORSE

Lauren Jaquay of Hamilton will compete in the Miss Rodeo America pageant in Las Vegas this November. Jaquay is a junior animal science/pre-veterinary major at Cornell University. She was crowned Miss Rodeo New York last fall at the annual pageant in Glens Falls.

Clinton native Mary Jordan did not make the Rio Paralympic team, but did wrap up the 2016 USEF ParaEquestrian Dressage National Championships in third place overall with equine partner Rubicon 75, an Oldenburg gelding. Jordan, whose Olympic quest was profiled in the spring issue of NY Horse, is also the 2016 Grade IV National Champion.

New York Horse wins national writing awards New York Horse was honored with three national awards for writing excel excellence by American Horse Publications. The annual AHP competition celebrates the best in equine publishing. The 2016 equine media contest drew 770 entries from 98 AHP members. “We’ve been publishing for a little more than a year, so we are very proud to say New York Horse won multiple national writing awards. Recognition by your peers is the greatest compliment,” said editor and publisher Janis Barth, who also wrote two of the winning articles. “The honor is not only professional but personal: New York Horse is more than a business, it’s a labor of love.” Held since 1974, the AHP Equine Media Awards recognize the year’s best in print and online publishing in both media and business divisions. American Horse Publications is a professional association promoting excellence in equine media and improved communication within the world of equine publishing. New York Horse was one of 10 publishing media members to receive three awards. The magazine also received awards for writing, photography and general excellence in the annual Syracuse Press Club competition.

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‘It is the obligation of the track owners to police the sport’


By Jeffrey R. Gural

think everyone talks about the importance of having a level playing field and eliminating performance enhancing drugs in our industry. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. Right now the approach we are talking and have taken for generations clearly makes no sense. In essence, we are telling the bad guys that if their horse is racing on Saturday, August 1, in the third race at Saratoga, we are going to take blood from your horse at 2 p.m. on August 1, right before or after the race. When you tell that to people who are trying to catch

athletes cheating, they laugh – because clearly if you tell an athlete what time you are coming to take a urine sample he or she will work backwards and make sure that they are clean at the time you are coming to test them. The only way the system works is to have out-ofcompetition testing, where the trainer has no idea when someone might show up to take blood and has no idea to what lab the blood is going to be sent. When I took over the Meadowlands, which is the No. 1 harness track in the world, I knew we might have a problem. So I hired a retired NJ State Police detective who grew up in the horse business, as his father was a horse trainer all his life. In addition, he spent three or four years heading up the State Police Task Force on cleaning up the drug problem. Unfortunately, that task force was abandoned as a cost-cutting measure, and we were left with the testing procedures outlined previously. Basically, as the racetrack owner, I have taken it upon myself to have my own investigator to do out-of-competition testing, surveillance and undercover sting operations – all designed to catch the cheaters. Equally important, we have also not allowed those trainers that have bad records and questionable reputations to race at the track. When we were sued by one of the worst offenders, we prevailed in court on the basis that it was private property and, as a result, we have pretty much been able to keep most of the drug trainers out at my three racetracks. In my opinion, it is the obligation of the track owners to police the sport the same way that the major league baseball owners have taken it upon themselves to police the sport and not leave it up to the states to try to catch the cheaters. We sent many of the samples to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Testing Lab, which we consider the best in the sport, and have discovered the illegal use of cobalt, along with the illegal use of EPO (erythropoietin, an endurance booster) and other illegal compounds. I believe just the fact that the trainers who race at the Meadowlands know that our investigator can show up at any time and request a sample is a major deterrent. When you think about, it in no other industry can you be successful and the presumption is that you are probably cheating. I know if I was a successful trainer, and I was not cheating, I would be demanding more out-of-competition testing to prove how honest I was. And yet you never hear any trainer demand that the state increase out-of-competition testing in order to prove that they are really great trainers, and not great chemists. I think that is very revealing. I know if I was the leading trainer in the sport, and everyone thought I was probably cheating, I would do everything I could to convince the authorities to do more testing. In any case, my decision to hire my own investigator is working out well although it is expensive. In all honesty, I do not think the state will ever budget enough money to do the job that needs to be done. Jeffrey R. Gural is the owner of Meadowlands Racetrack, Vernon and Tioga Downs, and owns and breeds Standardbreds on his farm in Stanfordville.



“World-class” horse show venue on hold at fairgrounds Work continues to improve existing stabling, Coliseum


here is no money in the first phase of the New York State Fair makeover to create a world-class horse show venue. “While it’s not in the current plan, it’s not dead,” said Dave Bullard, assistant public information officer for the Fair, noting that while additional money is needed for a new facility to be built, improvements continue to be made to the existing horse barns and Coliseum. “What we are doing is what we could prioritize in terms of the money that was allocated.” The state last year appropriated $50 million for what Gov. Andrew Cuomo called a sweeping redesign of the Syracuse fairgrounds. Included in the original plan were a new RV park – which led to demolition of the grandstand and historic racetrack – an expanded and upgraded Midway, modernization of the infrastructure, a state-of-the-art Expo Center and what was described by Cuomo

as a “world-class equestrian facility” with three new show rings and stabling for up to 1,000 horses. Where did the money go? A sizeable chunk, said Bullard and Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner, went to infrastructure including water and electric lines, communications and new safety and security measures. “We’re a city, a 116-year-old city,” Bullard explained. The underground works were antiquated or non-existent, leading to constant problems including frequent water main breaks. Waffner said approximately $40 million of the original allocation has been spent. “How do we fund the rest of it becomes the question,” he said. “We haven’t solved that problem yet … In order for any new facility to go forward, they will need to find new money.” Waffner said the idea of constructing a climate-controlled Expo Center to host everything from horse shows to trade shows remains solid. There is still a designated spot for it in the plan,

between the new Midway and the existing equine and youth buildings. “Nothing has been set in stone,” Waffner said. “We just finished Phase 1 of the project. We’ll finish this year’s Fair and then look at Phase 2.” He said Gov. Cuomo has not asked for input on a second phase of work, and that the Fair’s annual $3.5 million capital budget is the only funding they have committed at this time. While expansion plans simmer, work continues on the existing equine facilities at the fairgrounds. The Coliseum has been widened by removing the old walkway that circled the arena at ground level, expanding the show ring from 200 feet by 94 feet to 210 by 104. A new wooden gate was installed at the entrance to the Coliseum from the practice ring and plank panels were placed along the arena’s side walls. After the horse show season ends this fall, work will begin to upgrade the stalls in the main barn. The goal, said Waffner, will be to update the stalls while preserving as much as possible of the vintage metal work, “because we just can’t replicate it.” The warm-up ring will also be re-clad next year. And ideas will be sought for the old racing stables – from restoring them for equestrian use to re-imagining the buildings as restaurants.

This fall, work will begin to upgrade the stalls in the State Fair’s main horse barn, preserving the metal work if possible.



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National award goes to United Cerebral Palsy equine volunteer ‘I want to be a part of those magical moments at the barn’


rom an early age, Alexis Lalor was fascinated by horses. Every inch of the walls of her childhood bedroom were covered with photos of horses, and she read every book that had a horse on its cover. Eight years ago, she arrived for her first day in the horseback riding program at United Cerebral Palsy & Handicap Persons Association of the Utica Area. She was assigned to side walk next to a young girl with autism. The child

The EQUUS Foundation is a national animal welfare organization dedicated to ensuring the quality of life of horses, fostering the human-horse bond and reducing the unwanted horse population. To learn more go to

was then, she says, that she recognized working in equine-assisted activities and therapies was what she was meant to do. “I want to be a part of those magical moments at the barn where kids walk in, crying or screaming and insisting they were not ever going to get on a horse, then proudly walk around the arena just a moment or two after getting in the saddle,” Alexis says. “They conquer their fears, learn new skills, and acquire endless physical benefits such as improved posture, muscle tone and fine/ gross motor skills – just to name a few! – and they make a new best friend with their equine therapist.” Victoria Isaacson says much the same thing about the emotions she feels working at Lucky Orphans, a sanctuary for rescued horses in Dover Plains. “Nothing can compare to the feeling when you can take a broken animal with dull eyes and no happiness left and turn them back into a happy animal,” says Victoria. “That is what volunteering is all about: Giving back to those who need it and realizing giving is getting!” At Lucky Orphans, Victoria has helped care for more than 50 horses, feeding, grooming, cleaning, and working to give them a better life. She also saw the impact rescued horses had on people. There, she watched troubled children say their first words to a horse, identifying with them and trusting them enough to whisper in their ear what was wrong. Victoria is entering SUNY Stony Brook this fall. She plans to become a physical therapist saying, “I want to help people in the way I see horses helping people, and decided physical therapy fit everything I wanted in a career.”



displayed what appeared to be an impenetrable, unfeeling expression. But as the horse’s gait changed, the girl’s face lit up with an expression of joy and surprise, and a laugh rang out, filling the barn and causing heads to turn. Alexis was fairly new to the concept of animal therapy, and remembers of that transformative moment: “I was stunned!” She became fascinated by the idea that this unique work with animals could lead to significant changes in our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Her dedication and many hours of volunteer work led to her being chosen by the EQUUS Foundation as a 2016 Champion of Equine Service. Alexis, who lives in Utica, is one of seven volunteers nationwide who will receive a $1,000 scholarship, underwritten by Ariat International. Victoria Isaacson of Dover, who volunteers at Lucky Orphans, was also named an equine champion scholarship recipient. Alexis, who is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Recreation at SUNY Cortland, says she plans to start her PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) certification within the next year or two. Alexis says it was while she was serving in the Peace Corps more than 8,000 miles away – in Mozambique, a country with very few horses – that she realized she was always thinking about the young girl she met on that first day as a volunteer. It


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In the closing days of WW II, a tale of rescuing The Perfect Horse


n the last chaotic days of World War II, at the farthest edge of the Allied Front, a small group of battle-weary American soldiers capture a German spy. In his briefcase he has nothing except photos of beautiful white horses that have been stolen by the Nazis and kept on a secret farm behind enemy lines. These are the famed Lipizzans of the Spanish Riding School – one of war-torn Europe’s most valuable treasures – and they have been stockpiled by Hitler in order to breed the perfect military machine, an equine master race. In The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis, just released by Ballantine Books, best-selling author Elizabeth Letts uncovers the story behind the daring rescue of the white stallions. The story begins with an air raid siren, and the escape to a tunnel of the horses and riders: “The Spanish Riding School of Vienna was one of Austria’s most beloved institutions. Named for the Spanish provenance of the original horses, the school famously showcased the finest specimens of the equine species’ most rarefied breed: the royal Lipizzaner. As priceless as any of the masterpieces that

hung in Vienna’s museums, from their snow-white coats to their large aristocratic heads and deep brown eyes, the horses were unlike any others in the world. “… These royal horses had escaped danger on numerous previous occasions, fleeing for their lives and safety from the armies of Napoleon and again during the Great War. Each time they had been able to find safe haven. But now, in the all-out war of air and ground that was engulfing Europe, where could they go? No obvious path to safety lay before them.” Secured by Hitler on a farm hidden behind Nazi lines, the horses in these last days of the war are in peril. With the starving Russian army closing in, they are in imminent danger of being slaughtered for food. With only hours to spare, one of the American army’s last great cavalrymen, Col. Hank Reed, makes a bold decision with Gen. George Patton’s blessing to mount a covert rescue operation. Racing against time, Reed’s small but determined band of soldiers steals across enemy lines in a dramatic act of bravery that saved one of the world’s great equestrian treasures. The Perfect Horse weaves together the strands of this remarkable story: from Hitler’s expert on “pure blood” whose theories applied to both people and horses; to the Austrian Olympian, director of the Spanish Riding School, who donned a German uniform to keep his stallions safe; to the senator’s son who makes a daring moonlight ride to secure the farm’s surrender. Letts, author of The Eighty-Dollar Champion, brings to life a time when horses were as valuable as crown jewels and soldiers stopped at nothing to save them.

BITS AND PIECES HIGH FIVE: NUMBERS OF INTEREST THIS ISSUE New York Horse took a spin through the stacks of research, news releases and other nuggets of information that come our way and gleaned these items of equine intelligence.

480K The number of people in the United States who participate in a competitive equestrian sport


The percent of their weight a horse carries on the forehand while moving


60K The number of people who have been introduced to horses in two years through the American Horse Council’s “Time to Ride” program

2006 The year microchipping began to be used successfully to ID horses in Europe


How many athlete and horse combinations from 43 countries chased their dreams of glory at the Rio Olympics

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Fall Symposium with Beth Baumert AND Year-End Awards Dinner with guest speaker Beth Baumert

November 12-13th, participate in this year’s auditor based clinic with Beth Baumert. Beth is a USDF Certified Dressage Instructor and Author of ‘When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics’, as well as editor of Dressage Today magazine and president of The Dressage Foundation. The symposium will run in congruence with our yearend awards dinner. Rides will be semi-privates. RIDERS: Meet and Greet Ride Friday 11th Clinic November 12 + 13th, 2016 Members: $250/weekend Non-Members: $300/weekend Breakfast & Lunch provided, Year-End Awards dinner included. See for application.

AUDITORS: November 12 + 13th, 2016 CNYD&CTA Members: $35/day- $45/wknd Non-Members: $40/day-$55/wknd Breakfast & Lunch provided

ANNUAL AWARDS DINNER 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm @ The Lincklaen House Saturday, November 12th, 2016. Enjoy a Dinner buffet, silent auction, and Year-End Awards, lecture, Q & A and book signing with Beth Baumert. CNYD&CTA Members - $35 Non-Members - $40 & Like us on Facebook

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Begin Again Horse Rescue wins $10,000 grant ‘We can make a difference for at least some of the … at-risk horses’


olene was plucked from a kill pen after going to auction at Finger Lakes Livestock Exchange in Canandaigua. No one knew anything about her past. The present was painful: the 17hand Mammoth Mule had severe canker and was foundered. But there is no question about her future. Seven-yearold Jolene was saved by Begin Again Horse Rescue, a small sanctuary in Lima, whose work has just won a $10,000 grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “It is our hope that together we can make a difference for at least some of the huge numbers of at-risk horses,” said Harriett Rubins, executive director of Begin Again. The rescue won the award from the ASPCA for its “Team Up for Horses” campaign in April, she said: “We had more events, volunteers, visitors, demonstrations, contests and money earned. A gelding assistance program has been funded, some real bonding made, and great fun had by everyone. “Our little rescue rocked as we all worked together to help more horses.” The campaign was part of the ASPCA’s Help A Horse Day, a nationwide grant competition for equine rescues and sanctuaries to raise awareness about their work. Begin Again’s “Team Up For Horses” campaign was selected for an award from among 185

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Harriett Rubins will be speaking about Begin Again Horse Rescue and the problem of unwanted horses at the New York State Horse Council’s annual meeting, Sept. 17 at Finger Lakes Racing and Gaming in Canandaigua. Or check their website at



Jolene is a favorite with visitors — large and small — to Begin Again Horse Rescue.

equine organizations in 41 states that participated this year. The community provided sponsorships, prizes and some funding for the campaign, which wrapped up with an Open House and Equine Health Fair on April 24. The event also provided an opportunity for visitors to sign a petition to urge the state legislature to pass the Equine Inherent Risk law, tour the farm and learn more about Begin Again and its resident, adoptable horses. “Our participation in this event, followed by winning a $10,000 grant, has further energized us to continue to grow and develop. We are excited to recognize that together, we are making a difference helping at-risk horses more than ever before,” Rubins said. Begin Again was formed to provide housing for horses taken in or surrendered to local law enforcement agencies and humane societies within a two-hour radius of their farm in Livingston County. Rubins notes that since there is no state mandate for towns and cities to control the unwanted horse population – as there is for dogs and cats – the question arises as to who will deal with these animals. For the most part, she said, “it seems to be up to individuals and grass roots organizations to help, because most animal shelters have no facilities for large animals.” As for Jolene, while it is not strictly part of their mission, Rubins said there was simply no walking away from the “gentle and curious girl with a kind sort of dignity” at the livestock auction. Jolene has had surgery at Cornell University’s equine hospital to remove the canker from her hind feet, and veterinarians are optimistic about the future, although it will take 6 months to a year for her to fully recover. “She is so kind,” Rubins said. “Everyone who meets her loves this pretty mule.”

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Clockwise from upper left: Beezie and Cortes at the World Equestrian Games; receiving the team silver in Rio; reflected, after Team USA won the 2016 Nations Cup; winning the King George V Gold Cup. PHOTOS, FROM TOP LEFT, BY: ARND BRONKHORST; TONY PARKES; TONY PARKES; JON STROUD


A conversation with

Beezie Madden


On Life, Horses and the Pursuit of Excellence

n the decades since foot first touched stirrup, the accomplishments of Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden are incomparable: Two Olympic team gold medals, a team silver, an individual bronze, a World Cup trophy and a double handful of medals from the FEI Nations Cup, Pan American games and World Equestrian Games. Hers is a genuinely shy and modest elegance that understates the glass ceilings she has smashed. Madden is the only rider to win the USEF Equestrian of the Year title four times. In 2014, she became the first woman to win the King George V Gold Cup, and is the first woman to pass $1 million in show jumping earnings. At 52, she was the oldest female athlete on Team USA which, she noted, husband John kept “telling everyone.” New York Horse writer LA Pomeroy chatted with Madden, whose home farm is tucked into a ribbon of hills outside Cazenovia. She mused on memories (“It does help to have been at the Games before. You know what to expect. You’re going to feel patriotic!”) and medals earned (“When you get to the venue, it’s what we do. It’s a horse show.”). She began with her equine teammate, the superb Dutch

BEEZIE ON: PICKING THE RIGHT HORSE What’s needed for success: “… Jumping ability, of course, and (they) need to be physically capable of holding up through all the competition and travel. But also, does the horse have the temperament for training? Is there enough fight in them so they’ll do the right thing?” The intangible she looks for: “I like horses with a lot of spirit, a lot of will.” One more thing: “You need a good mind as well. You don’t want a crazy horse. You need balance.”

Warmblood Cortes ‘C’, with whom Madden shared a bittersweet Olympics – receiving the team silver only hours after his tendon injury caused them to withdraw from competition. New York Horse: What makes Cortes an excellent partner? Beezie Madden: He’s a very big but very

sweet horse. I think after 17 hands we just stopped measuring! But he’s an incredible jumper and he wants to jump clean. He can get nervous. Not ‘elephant vs. mouse’ scared, but he will let you know if he doesn’t like something. What he really likes, other than carrots and mints, are Cavalor Fruities. NYH: Who is the most exciting horse you’ve ever ridden and why?

They’re all exciting when you first get them! But probably Cortes. He’s so big and scopey. We’ve done a lot of work on shortening his strides but if it’s a question of leaving a stride out or adding one, he’s so big strided I know I can leave it out. NYH: What are the ‘must-haves’ in your carry-on?

Ambien. That’s most important. My iPad – for solitaire or to watch a movie. NYH: We have a question for you from one of your young fans. Kate Welder, who is 13 and lives in Manlius, has ridden for six years and is working hard with her pony to become an accomplished hunter/ jumper rider. She wanted to ask you if there was ever a time you fell off a horse and thought about not getting back on. How did you overcome it?

Everybody gets nervous about falling off. It’s OK. But if you want to keep going, you’re going to have to get back on. Make sense out of what happened. Figure out why you fell off and look at it as a learning experience. NYH: Share with our readers: What is your best advice on how to ride better?

Practice better. Practice does not make perfect. NEW YORK HORSE 29

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. Better riding is about practice and concentration.” 30 NEW YORK HORSE


1. 2. 

Equestrian sport has been part of the Olympic Games since 1912.

Team and individual medals are awarded in three disciplines: Dressage, Eventing and Jumping.


Team USA holds the record for the greatest level of participation, with 236 horse and rider combinations competing throughout the history of the Games.


Team Germany has won the most medals, collecting a total of 75, not counting Rio.


The equestrian events of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were staged in the Deodoro Olympic Park alongside basketball, BMX, canoe slalom, fencing, hockey, modern pentathlon, mountain biking, rugby sevens and shooting.

Only perfect practice makes perfect. Better riding is about practice and concentration. I ride every day. Maybe a Monday off. NYH: Is this what a young Elizabeth Patton wanted to be when she grew up? If you weren’t riding, what would you have done for a living?

This is all so beyond what I thought it could ever be. I never had the confidence to think I could win gold at an Olympics. I don’t think I could have ever done anything but work with horses. If I couldn’t ride, I’d probably groom. NYH: You won the 1984 Cacchione Cup at the IHSA Nationals. That format is based on catch riding and team contribution. Did it prepare you for riding on Olympic teams or trading horses in a World Championship?

Any experience is good experience. Figuring a horse out quickly. Learning how to work with and support a horse or a team. These are skills that can’t do anything but help. NYH: Speaking of teamwork, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has talked about the importance of marrying a supportive partner. How important is John’s support?

Huge. He’s the nuts and bolts of Madden Sales. He manages the stable, the horse owners, helps pick horses for me and helps with my training, and takes the load off me so I can concentrate on riding. He pushes me. Cheerleads for me. Now if only he’d stop talking about my being the oldest...


Beezie Madden and Cortes ‘C’ in the individual jumping second qualifier at the Rio Olympics. NEW YORK HORSE 31

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High Octane Horsepower

“If you have everything under control, you’re not moving fast enough.” — Mario Andretti NEW YORK HORSE 33


Artful orse H The

The Summer Meet: Saratoga through the lens of Michael Davis NEW YORK HORSE 35


“From New York City you drive north for about 175 miles, turn left on Union Avenue and go back 100 years.” Red Smith NEW YORK HORSE 37


“Come to an early morning workout … and watch the sleek equines disappear into the fog and mist and then reappear. Let your mind wander and imagine what once was and you might see the ghost of Man o’ War or Seabiscuit or Affirmed.” Bill Shanklin NEW YORK HORSE 39


Deliciously De-Cantered These trackside cocktails – like any good Thoroughbred – are smooth with a powerful kick


his is the EQ Style version of the Triple Crown: Three fashionable cocktails to celebrate the eminently chic meet at Saratoga Race Course. The Saratoga Sunrise – made with orange juice, vodka and grenadine – is the track’s current signature drink. But the name Saratoga has been associated with stylish sipping since 1887, when the first drink to bear the name appeared in Jerry Thomas’ Bar-Tender’s Guide. A variation on the Manhattan that adds brandy to the timeless mix of whiskey and sweet vermouth, the Saratoga – no less than its namesake track – is a classic with staying power. The Travers Cooler celebrates the biggest day of the Saratoga racing season. The 1¼-mile Travers Stakes dates back to 1864, making the “Midsummer Derby” for 3-year-olds the oldest major Thoroughbred race in America. This year’s edition, the 147th running – you’ve added correctly, it did skip a few years – was August 27.

SARATOGA SUNRISE Why yes, this will put you in mind of another, tequila-based sunrise INGREDIENTS

¾ cup orange juice 2 ounces vodka Splash of grenadine DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a tall glass with ice. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry. Let the grenadine settle to the bottom to get the traditional layered sunrise look.

SARATOGA COCKTAIL A variation on the Manhattan, the Saratoga first appears in an 1887 edition of the BarTender’s Guide. INGREDIENTS

1 ounce rye whiskey 1 ounce brandy 1 ounce sweet vermouth 2 dashes Angostura Bitters DIRECTIONS

Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir well to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon wedge or twist.

TRAVERS COOLER The lemonade-based beverage was selected from 140 entries in the Albany Times-Union’s Toast to the Travers contest to be the drink of the Midsummer Derby. INGREDIENTS

2 parts lemon vodka 1 part triple sec Lemonade 7 mint leaves Lemon wedge or slice DIRECTIONS

Muddle 5 mint leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add ice, vodka, triple sec and lemonade. Shake, pour into rocks glass and garnish with remaining two mint leaves and lemon.



Two won the Kentucky Derby. One lost a race against a minor league baseball player. One set two world speed records. One took the Preakness by 9¾ lengths, the second-largest margin in race history. One paused to scratch his nose on the near pole, then came in last by four yards more than a football field. One inspired a beloved children’s book. One inspired a beer and an ice cream flavor. One inspired legions of railbirds to tear up their race cards and take up knitting. They are iconic New York Thoroughbreds: Funny Cide. Exterminator. Zippy Chippy. One, undaunted. One, unsurpassed. One, unbelievable. Legends all. NEW YORK HORSE 41

Four Stops on the Silks Road


Until he was banned from the track for refusing to break from the gate, Zippy Chippy spent most of his winless career – he was 0-100 – as a fan favorite at Finger Lakes Gaming & Race Track in Farmington. A commemorative Zippy beer stein bears the motto: “Dedication. Perseverance. (Complete lack of Speed.)” Relive one of his most notorious losses – in a race with a minor league ballplayer from Rochester – at watch?v=kMGe9mHkpHk.


Whispering Pines Pet Cemetery, the final resting place of Exterminator, is located at 3850 Gardner Road, in the hills above Binghamton’s Ross Park Zoo. Take Washington Street and Morgan Road to Gardner Road. The cemetery is about a half-mile past the entrance to the zoo. Get in the time machine and watch Exterminator win the 1918 Kentucky Derby – back when film was black-and-white and there was no starting gate – at watch?v=Rr4m83hry88.



Sackets Harbor’s claim to history was making ships for the War of 1812 until five high school friends formed Sackatoga Stables and bought Funny Cide, who became the first NY-bred to win the Kentucky Derby. Their silks reflected the colors of the Sackets Harbor HS Patriots and they traveled to the Triple Crown races in a school bus, aka the “big yellow stretch limo.” Watch Funny Cide demolish the 2003 Preakness field by nearly 10 lengths at


The Hambletonian Stakes – the first race in the Triple Crown of harness racing for trotters – is named after NY-bred Hambletonian 10, a foundation sire of Standardbreds. The first Hambletonian was run at the New York State Fair in Syracuse in 1926. The Fair won the bid by offering to add $8,000 to the purse, making the Hambletonian – then and now – the richest race in trotting. There is no film, only this picture of the victorious pre-race favorite, Guy McKinney.

Funny Cide

Life is good for the gutsy gelding, now a crusty curmudgeon and still adored by fans BY GLENYE CAIN OAKFORD Special to New York Horse PHOTOS BY JOHN SHAMBHU KENTUCKY HORSE PARK NEW YORK HORSE 43

F Funny Cide is the most visited resident of the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions

Funny Cide has not lost his edge. If anything, the winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby – the first gelding to win the race since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929 – has taken on the mantle of resident curmudgeon at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Hall of Champions. It’s been 13 years since his run for the roses, and just over seven years since he moved to Kentucky, arriving with a note on his halter itemizing his quirks. But age, affectionate visitors, even fan mail with peppermints have not mellowed the feisty chestnut, who still owns possibly the most colorful Triple Crown campaign in recent memory. Visiting with Funny Cide today, one still sees the tough, demanding athlete who overcame setbacks in races, but couldn’t always overcome his own headstrong temperament. “Mostly, he just wants to be left in peace,” said Robin Bush, who has been one of Funny Cide’s chief caretakers since his arrival at the Hall of Champions in December 2008. “He’ll let you mess with him, but you kind of have a time limit before he starts to get cranky about it. So we try to accommodate his sensitivity, and we don’t take too long grooming him. You have to accommodate his personality, but I don’t let him run roughshod over me. We’ve just come to an understanding with each other.” That understanding, Bush says, includes a Grooming Compromise: Funny Cide will tolerate being brushed if Bush allows him to eat hay at the same time.


This is life with Funny Cide, the first New York-bred to be voted North America’s champion 3-year-old and the inspiration for both a beer and an ice cream flavor. He has strong opinions, says Bush, and he can have a quick temper, but he doesn’t hold a grudge. “Funny Cide, he can get so angry and look like he’s fantasizing about killing you. Maybe he’ll get furious because you tried to straighten his blanket,” she said. “But once whatever has made him mad is over, once you’ve straightened the blanket and left, he lets it go.” “He just doesn’t like a whole lot of things — doesn’t like being brushed, hates his mane being pulled,” she added. “Some things, though, he’ll kind of surprise you with. He doesn’t mind having his whiskers and bridle path clipped, which surprised me at first, since he seems to mind just about everything else you have to do with him. “And he does have a few spots that, if you scratch them just right, at first he stands there with a face like he’s trying so hard not to show that he likes it, and then finally he gives up, like, ‘OK, that actually feels good.’ ” None of this would surprise Funny Cide’s former racetrack connections. He was so strong on the track that exercise riders often had to gallop him with his head cranked to one side in order to keep hold of him. “You can’t win an outright fight with him,” regular rider Robin Smullen, assistant to Funny Cide’s trainer Barclay Tagg, once observed. “You have to convince him into doing things. The whole ride is a negotiation.” The gelding’s strength of character helped him bull through some tough times on the Derby trail: a hard whack into the starting gate in his first start of 2003; a lung infection that sidelined him early in the season; and a difficult, wide trip in the Wood Memorial (in which he battled back and finished a hard-charging second to Empire Maker). But sometimes Funny Cide’s willfulness proved costly, most famously when he lost his Triple Crown bid to Empire Maker after fighting jockey Jose Santos’ attempts to steady him early in the 1½ mile race. The brave performances, his status as a gelding, and his relatively inexpensive purchase price – he was a $22,000 yearling that the Sackatoga Stable partnership bought at age 2 for $75,000 – all added to Funny Cide’s image as an underdog on the Derby campaign. And his unpretentious owners, a partnership of high-school friends from Sackets Harbor who pooled their money to buy a horse or two, added to the team’s appeal. They traveled to Funny Cide’s

Triple Crown races in a yellow school bus and, as the gelding won the Derby and the Preakness, his and their “everyday Joe” popularity with the public grew. When a bizarre allegation after the Preakness — that Santos had been carrying an electronic buzzer to make Funny Cide run faster during his recordbreaking victory — was investigated and found to be baseless, public support for the gelding and his connections reached a fever pitch. Led by managing partner Jack Knowlton, the Sackatogians and their horse returned to New York for the Belmont Stakes to nearly wild public adoration. That Funny Cide lost the race did absolutely nothing to dent people’s regard. Before him, after all, the last exciting thing to happen in Sackets Harbor was the War of 1812. When Funny Cide came to the Kentucky Horse Park five years later, the park was quiet during its winter hours. There were no big crowds that day to greet the celebrated chestnut gelding, who arrived with a note – detailing his personality and some of his eccentricities – attached to his halter. But public affection for Funny Cide has stood the test of time. “He still gets a lot of attention, and we have folks who still come down from New York specifically to visit him, and from other places, too,” says Bush, noting that Funny Cide is the most visited horse in the Hall of Champions. “He still sometimes gets Christmas cards. There’s one man in particular who sends Funny Cide a card every year with a little bag of mints. Last Christmas, we took a photograph for him of Funny Cide getting

the first mint from the bag. And we do get a lot of requests for people to get their picture taken with him, and we can usually accommodate that. He’s usually nicer to visitors than he is to his handlers.” (Hint to visitors: Funny Cide loves mints and carrots, and recently he has discovered an herbal treat called Hilton Herballs that are an occasional luxury. “He loves those,” Bush said. “His eyes get really big when he can smell them in your pocket.”) These days, when he’s not on show in the Hall



“Funny Cide Pride” ice cream was created by Stewart’s Shops to honor the Derby and Preakness wins. The flavor combined butter pecan ice cream with roasted pecans, a butter pecan fudge swirl and butter pecan fudge pieces.


Funny Cide also inspired a beer, Funny Cide Light, a lager brewed by the Sackets Harbor Brewing Co. in Northern New York. The beer, like the horse, has been retired.


Speaking of which, Funny Cide was retired shortly after his victory in the Wadsworth Memorial Handicap at Finger Lakes Race Track on July 4, 2007. The track’s normal capacity is 6,000, but a crowd of more than 12,000 turned up to watch. NEW YORK HORSE 45

of Champions presentations for visitors, Funny Cide’s schedule includes regular hand-walks around the park, often in the company of Bush or 87-yearold Horse Park handler Gene Carter. Sometimes they sing to the gelding as they make their rounds. “You can tell he’s listening,” said Bush. “He’s really relaxed when you walk him around the park. He likes to look around, and if there’s not a lot going on, he seems to love the quiet just as much.” On these sojourns, Funny Cide often bumps into fans who are pleasantly amazed to meet a Kentucky Derby winner striding among them along the park’s leafy lanes. “They’re usually so pleased when they see him like that, just walking somewhere around the park,” said Bush. “It makes people so happy to just bump into a Kentucky Derby winner unexpectedly on the


grounds, and he’s usually quite patient with visitors.” Funny Cide also has made a few appearances off site, such as a trip in April to parade the horses and riders ahead of the running of the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. Last summer, he was invited to parade at Saratoga Race Course. Funny Cide is 16 now, and, so far, he appears untroubled by age. He is known to have slightly thin soles on his hooves, but 20-minute sessions on a TheraPlate vibrating machine, which is thought to increase circulation, appears to have prompted better hoof growth. Although he often seems only to tolerate human company, Funny Cide is friendly with the park’s other equine residents. He is turned out in a paddock by himself, but became especially companionable with three miniature horses who lived for a time on the other side of his fence. And his stall and adjoining paddock have an illustrious history. Before Funny Cide moved in, they belonged to Cigar -- who retired as the richest Thoroughbred in U.S. racing history -- and before that to Kona Gold and to the great Forego. It is not a bad retirement for a horse who has touched so many people: owners, handlers, and devoted fans alike. “He’s a happy horse overall; he just doesn’t want to be messed with too much,” Bush said. And why not? Funny Cide, the gallant and gutsy gelding, has earned that right. Glenye Cain Oakford first wrote about Funny Cide for Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, on line at

Exterminator The ungainly longshot won the Derby, became the greatest distance runner of his time and Binghamton’s four-legged favorite son


he branches of an elderly tree brush the top of Exterminator’s grave. Whispering Pines pet cemetery is a small gap in the woods, tucked into the hilly landscape outside Binghamton. One of the greatest horses ever to fly down a race track lies next to Hobbes and Mazel and a dog who is remembered as “Our Best Behaved Child.” The granite headstone is modest, etched with a silhouetted horse head and bearing a simple inscription: EXTERMINATOR 1915-1945 No grand monument, no words, no hint that the gangling Thoroughbred buried here was an unlikely longshot who won the 1918 Kentucky Derby with a slingshot stretch run. Exterminator captured the heart of the nation with his come-from-behind victory; he went on to set several world records, become the nation’s greatest distance runner and win more stakes races than Man o’ War and Secretariat combined. NEW YORK HORSE 47

His story ends as one of the most beloved racehorses of his time, but it begins humbly, in a foaling barn on a farm carpeted with Kentucky bluegrass. “In 1915, surrounded by tall oaks and the soft smells of late May – molasses, paint, grass, soap – a dark chestnut foal unfolded his legs for the first time. He did not have any marking on his legs, which was auspicious. Horsemen were just shedding the superstition that white socks and stockings were bad luck. Between the foal’s dark eyes was a lopsided white mark, a star … It looked more like a triangle, with one of its points facing down, or even, if you looked at it from a distance, like a heart.” From Here Comes Exterminator! The Longshot Horse, the Great War, and the Making of an American Hero by Eliza McGraw

Ten hours north and east, Willis Sharpe Kilmer was Binghamton’s definition of flamboyantly nouveau riche — the heir to a patent-medicine fortune built on Swamp-Root, a cureall potion that contained cinnamon, sassafras and a whopping 9 percent alcohol. Victorian Binghamton was known as the “Parlor City” for its gracious homes and Kilmer, known for parading the streets in a riding habit, didn’t fit the city’s notion of polite society. He tried his hand at yachting, foxhunting and breeding show dogs and then seized upon racing as his


gateway to gentility. Membership in the American Jockey Club was seen as a social necessity. The Vanderbilts, Roosevelts and Carnegies all belonged. Kilmer chose his racing colors — green, brown and SwampRoot orange — and started buying Thoroughbreds. He started with a modest string, but thirsted for winners. In 1915, the same year Exterminator was born, he hired trainer Henry McDaniel, who found a state-of-the art barn, including a half-mile racetrack, when he visited Binghamton. “Mr. Kilmer has organized his stud with the idea of making valuable contributions to future breeding,” read one story in the Binghamton Press (a newspaper, it must be noted, that Kilmer owned.) The next year, at the Saratoga yearling sales, McDaniel bought a French

colt sent to the U.S. for auction because of the war raging across Europe. The only flaws anyone could find in the mahogany colt were his legs, which showed signs of ringbone. Kilmer, ignoring the horseman’s superstition about changing a horse’s name, promptly rechristened the colt from Sunday to Sun Briar. Also at the Saratoga sale was Cal Milam, a Kentucky pinhooker – a buyer of young horses who raced them as 2-year-olds and then sold them. The lanky, dark chestnut colt with the white triangle caught Milam’s eye. The pair went back to Kentucky where, after a winter of training, Milam told his wife he thought the still-unnamed colt could kill the competition. His wife laughed: Why not call him Exterminator, she said. Very little in Exterminator’s 2-yearold campaign suggested he would live up to his name. He won a few, lost a few and then was put to pasture to recover from a mysterious injury. Nonetheless, Milam nominated him for the Kentucky Derby — just in case. Sun Briar, meanwhile, was the 2-year-old champion, dominating the competition before returning to a hero’s welcome in Binghamton.


Winn, who responded that if Exterminator belonged to him, the horse would run in the Derby. And so it came to be. Exterminator would run, a pinch-hitter going off at 30-1 that no one thought had a chance. Derby Day dawned sopping. The track, already muddy from days of rain, worsened. The morning papers called the Sun Briar-Exterminator swap a joke, and a hopeless measure. In the stabling area, McDaniel boosted jockey Willie Knapp into the saddle and told him “Hurry home. You are on the best horse.” “Come on!” shouted the starter. And they were off, hooves throwing up wet mud with every flying step.

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“Ten thousand people crowded the Binghamton train station by 11 a.m. on Sept. 3, the day Sun Briar was due home on the noon train. They lined the viaduct that overlooked the train track three deep … The air was loud with cheering and band music as Sun Briar stepped out behind a stableboy, who led him to the street. Binghamton was a fairly small town, but urban, so Sun Briar walked past houses, cars, parks and office buildings along Chenango Street from the train station to Kilmer’s edge-of-town farm, which stretched for a mile along the Susquehanna River.” From Here Comes Exterminator!

On Jan. 1, the official birthday of all Thoroughbreds, Sun Briar and Exterminator both turned three. Kilmer and McDaniel faced their champion toward victory at the Kentucky Derby. Milam wondered if he had any shot. But as Derby Day drew closer, Sun Briar faltered. Rumors flew that his ringbones were bothering the colt as he ran wide, slower and distracted. McDaniel, however, decided the solution was a faster exercise partner. He found him in Exterminator, now 17 hands high, bony with an extra-long face. “Not a picture horse, but he looked all business to me,” McDaniel recalled, and bought the colt. With a fast pacemaker, Sun Briar’s fractions picked up. Still McDaniel worried. Something wasn’t right and after a workout carrying Derby weight, owner and trainer finally admitted: Sun Briar was no longer a Derby contender. Exterminator, though — McDaniel had been right about his speed even though Kilmer thought he was nuts. “That horse isn’t fast enough to run past me,” he told Churchill Downs President Matt

… War Cloud’s fans yelled for him to move up, move up for God’s sake, and Johnny Loftus tried to oblige them, but his horse could not handle the miserably wet footing. Defeated, War Cloud fell back. The others pressed on, their hooves slipping in the mud as they pounded along, the jockey’s silks now spattered with dark wet clods. War Cloud forgotten, Escoba passed Viva America. Exterminator was right on his heels, his legs relentlessly unfolding open to gobble more track. …Down the track they dueled, neither giving an inch. Onlookers grabbed each other’s sleeves and stared in disbelief as the impossibly long legs continued their machinelike cycle. The horses could have been yoked together, Escoba’s head reaching forward with effort. About 200 yards out, Knapp looked ahead at the nearing finish line. He crouched down and tapped Exterminator with his whip to ask for speed. From Here Comes Exterminator!

Driving for home in the unforgiving mud, Exterminator, the truck horse — the “goat” as Kilmer once called him — responded. As the shocked crowd checked their programs to see who the heck was Horse No. 5, the ungainly gelding with unremarkable bloodlines bolted past Escoba to win the Derby by a full length. Exterminator’s victory, as McGraw writes, “was also one for the country, for homebred horses” at a time when it was thought American Thoroughbreds could not compete with European breeding. It was also the beginning of a remarkable career; Exterminator was the Iron Horse of his era, the greatest distance runner of his time. Sun Briar set an enduring speed record and his bloodlines gave racing Secretariat, Native Dancer and American Pharoah. But it is Exterminator whose ragsto-riches story endures. He appeared in magazines, a Hollywood movie and a children’s book, Old Bones, the Wonder Horse. There were other nicknames – Old Slim and the Galloping Hat Rack – and legions of fans who met his trains and flocked to see him run. Racing until the age of 9, Exterminator started 99 times, retiring in 1924 to Binghamton and a life of hay, annual birthday cakes made of oat mash, and companion ponies all named Peanuts. He died peacefully Sept. 26, 1945, in his stall, nudged by Peanuts, his head in the lap of Mike Terry, his longtime friend and groom. There are two other names on Exterminator’s headstone. Sun Briar, with whom his fortunes were linked in life, is together with him in death. Sun Briar’s daughter, Suntica, a champion in her own right, also shares the gravesite. Two decades after his death, Exterminator was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. His career record of 33 stakes wins still stands, unbroken by any Thoroughbred raced in North America. NEW YORK HORSE 49

Zippy Chippy Acquired in a swap for a truck, he devoured junk food, went 0-100, and turned losing into a fine art B Y B I L L F LY N N 50 NEW YORK HORSE NEW YORK HORSE 51

O Zippy gets a nuzzle from Red, his best buddy at Old Friends retirement farm for racehorses.

n paper, Zippy Chippy was poised for prominence. His bloodlines bulged with ties to Thoroughbred greats: Buckpasser and Bold Ruler, Northern Dancer and War Admiral. It was a pedigree that jingled with Derby, Preakness and Triple Crown gold. In a decade-long racing career, however, it became apparent that Zippy’s chromosomes zigged when maybe they should have zagged. For in exactly 100 races, from 1994 to 2004, he never reached the winner’s circle. Now 25, Zippy Chippy is the one and only, the proud possessor of a singular legacy: At 0-100 he is among the losing-est Thoroughbreds in the history of racing. The Puerto Rican mare Dona Chepa finished her career at 0-135 and another American thoroughbred, Thrust, was 0-105 racing in the 1950s. But none of them can say what Zippy can: He lost a 40-yard sprint to a minor league ballplayer. A dozen years after his last race, the dark brown wonder with a splash of forehead white is a happy pensioner enjoying the spoils of defeat. Since 2010, the Zipster has been living at Old Friends at Cabin Creek, a retirement farm for racehorses in Greenfield Center. A new book is out, a movie is possible and a legion of smitten fans attend his fund-raisers, feed him carrots and candy, and purchase Zippy Chippy souvenirs, some emblazoned with the motto he

embodies: “Winners don’t always finish first.” Or in Zippy’s case – ever. The legend was foaled on April 20, 1991 at Capritaur Farms in upstate New York. With his pedigree preceding him, Zippy ran his first five races at Belmont Park but finished no higher than third. Unsuccessful visits to New York’s Aqueduct and Finger Lakes race tracks brought Zippy’s ohfer streak to 12. When he lost a half-dozen more at Massachusetts’ Suffolk Downs, owner William Frysinger had enough. Two more losses – and owners – later at Finger Lakes, and Zippy Chippy was a phone call away from the kill pen. That was when fate, in the person of Felix



Monserrate, stepped in. The 52-year-old trainer traded his 1988 Ford horse van for the winless Zippy, beginning both a 15-year partnership and an 80-race losing streak. If Felix figured the horse had no place to go but up, Zippy had other ideas. To no avail, the trainer tried all kinds of pre- and post-race routines to get to the finish line first. A few second-place finishes fueled his hope that Zippy’s pedigree would win out in the end – “Every trainer wants to win a big race and he will be my Kentucky Derby,” Felix once predicted – but Zippy was more interested in being cantankerous and eating junk food than he was in training, much less actually racing. Zippy was an unyielding junk food junkie, devouring snacks from the sugary to the salty. Toaster pastries were a favorite, along with donuts, corn chips, candy canes, beer and – on at least one occasion – a delivery pizza, box and all. Passersby often lost what they were carrying for lunch if they ventured too close. Zippy was also prone to outbursts (kicking in his farrier’s new truck) and fond of trashing his stall, biting handlers (including Felix) and throwing riders. His confidence, jauntily high-stepping before and after losses, was undiminished by actual race results, “He don’t know how to read the racing form,” Felix defended Zippy as the zeros piled up in the win column. That, however, doesn’t begin to explain the summer of 1998. In July, prior to Zippy’s 84th attempt to win, he failed to break from the gate for the second time in a row and was put on suspension. Felix spent the next 60 days teaching Zippy how to bolt down the track when the bell rang. Zippy seemed to get the message, until the actual starting bell sounded. The other horses took off, but as William Thomas notes in The Legend of Zippy Chippy; Life Lessons from Horse Racing’s Most Loveable Loser, Zippy declined to follow. Finally persuaded by his jockey to leave the gate, Thomas writes that Zippy “had enough time to rub his itchy nose on the near pole, stop to catch his breath at the half-pole, and take a leak on the quarter pole before entering the stretch.” “Way Out of the Running,” is how USA Today characterized Zippy’s performance. That was it for Finger Lakes: Stewards banned him from the track for life. Reduced to running at the Northampton County Fair, Zippy completed his career with a lastplace finish on Sept. 10, 2004. His lifetime record: second place eight times; third place 12 times; total earnings, $30,834. (It should be noted that Felix, who died in 2015, had plenty of success with his other horses, earning $2.6 million in 5,419 starts.) These days at Cabin Creek, not far from Saratoga Race Course, Zippy is part of a 13-horse stable that includes multi-stakes winners Be Bullish and Commentator. His best buddy and full-time

companion is another New York-bred gelding, Red Down South. Nine years younger, Red serves as a calming influence, Zippy photo bomber and faithful escort who keeps his pal up and strolling about the paddock. Zippy weathers some expected arthritis, and earlier this year a non-cancerous growth was detected in his nasal cavity. Occasionally, Zippy will race with Red around the grounds. He always comes in second. “He looks beautiful,” said Cabin Creek’s coowner and general manager JoAnn Pepper. “He’s doing really well and is happy and content. He’s actually getting better about allowing the grooming. We don’t ask much of him and have adjusted to his behavior. So when Zippy gets grumpy we give him a carrot. He seems to enjoy it that way.” Zippy is the oldest horse at Cabin Creek. He’s mellowed, Joann says, and has given up the Doritos and beer for farm food selected with good digestion in mind. He actually turned down a happy birthday carrot cake a year ago, she says. That comes as no surprise to Tim Wilson, manager at Old Friends’ Kentucky farm. He’s helped the famous (Silver Charm, War Emblem) and not-so-famous (Mikethespike, Cherano) settle into their after-track lives, and Wilson says these equine athletes are very resilient. “They’re able to adapt from a racing environment to hunter, jumper, dressage, whatever... but can easily adapt to the life of just being a horse – the life they were born with by the way – and get used to the relaxed environment.” As for Zippy, one of People magazine’s Most Fascinating personalities of 2000, his biographer hopes the story of this unlikely racing legend teaches a simple lesson: Although winning is what we all strive for, it’s the attempt that counts. Felix, as William Thomas reminds, once said supportively of Zippy that he had been “losing real close lately.” “On the surface, a very funny line,” Thomas observes. “But deeper, you think about our kids and bringing them up. Zippy was a little bit quirky and was in a world of his own. But he tried hard, he gave it his best, he didn’t cheat. And the days that you leave it all out there and try your very best ... losing real close is plenty close enough.” NEW YORK HORSE 53

Horse racing contributes nearly $1 billion to New York’s agricultural economy ‘From the hay and straw we produce to the people we employ, the impact is extensive’


orse racing is more than an entertaining way to spend an afternoon or evening, it’s a vital part of New York agriculture. “In addition to providing jobs and a significant boost to the economy, the equine industry, including the Thoroughbred racing industry, is critical to our growing agriculture community,” said Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball. He toured three farms in Saratoga County – Innisfree Farm in Galway, McMahon of Saratoga Thoroughbreds in Saratoga Springs, and Irish Hill Century Farm in Stillwater – to see first-hand some of the state’s top breeding barns. “It’s great to get a look at the industry

beyond the racetrack and behind-thescenes on the farm,” Ball said. According to a 2012 study commissioned by the New York Horse Racing and Agriculture Industry Alliance, more than 2,300 breeding, training and racing enterprises call the state their home. The racing industry directly contributes nearly $1 billion to the state economy, helps preserve agricultural land and open space, and supports related jobs like veterinarians and feed suppliers. Cornell Cooperative Extension reports that 40,000 acres of hay are harvested each year for horses in the racing industry. “A thriving equine industry is vital to the health of the New York State economy and to agriculture,” said

McMahon Farm in Saratoga Springs, birthplace of Funny Cide, is home to some 300 racehorses.


DID YOU KNOW? New York State is home to 11 racetracks. There are seven harness tracks for Standardbred racing and four Thoroughbred racetracks.

Jeffrey Cannizzo, Executive Director of New York Thoroughbred Breeders. New York’s race horses, he added, showcase “the significant impact of the equine industry—a $4.2 billion effect on the state’s economy, including 33,000 fulltime jobs and $187 million in state and local taxes for New York.” The Innisfree, McMahon and Irish Hill Century Farms together have more than 1,500 acres of land. Innisfree is a 20-acre family-run farm with 14 horses. Scott Gregory has owned the farm for three years but has been breeding horses for more than two decades. For the first time, he’ll be selling four of his horses at the annual Saratoga and New York-bred Preferred Yearlings Sales. The McMahon Farm in Saratoga Springs has approximately 1,000 acres and 300 horses and is best-known as the birthplace of Funny Cide, the first NYbred horse to win the Kentucky Derby. “The horse industry in New York is a real gem,” Joe McMahon, the farm’s managing partner, said. “It employs people and preserves green space. It’s a huge tourist attraction through the race tracks, especially in Upstate New York.” The group also visited Irish Hill Century Farm owned by Rick Burke, a fifthgeneration farmer. Burke turned the farm into a full-care Thoroughbred boarding facility that is dedicated to breeding, foaling and sales preparation. The farm’s 500 acres are home to 140 horses. “The horse racing and breeding industry is important to the economy and agriculture and we’re pleased the Department of Agriculture and Markets was able to tour Irish Hill Century Farm and see the pride we take in our operation,” Burke said. “Our farm, and so many farms across the state, help keep land from being developed and ensure the livelihood for so many. From the hay and straw we produce to the people we employ, the impact is extensive. It’s important we work together to grow the industry.”

And they’re off … Morrisville College prepares the next generation of track stars BY RENÉE K. GADOUA CONTRIBUTING EDITOR



n an early August afternoon, three Morrisville State College students prepared to ice the legs of Rocket and The Answer Girl. The two Thoroughbreds worked for about 30 minutes, and this was a crucial follow-up to keep them healthy. “Of all the things man has invented to put on horses’ legs, what do I like?” Clyde Cranwell asked. “Ice,” the students responded as they scooped frozen cubes into black ice boots and gently patted the horses’ legs. “That’s right. Frozen water is the best,” said Cranwell, associate professor and director of Morrisville’s Thoroughbred program. “Osteoarthritis is your enemy. You have to treat the enemy.” Lessons on equine care play a central role in the program Cranwell has led since 2006. The college’s Equine Racing Management Program combines hands-on training – students work one-on-one with an assigned horse – with a traditional academic program that includes equine anatomy and physiology, equine nutrition and breeding and stable management. It’s thought to be the only collegiate program that offers students the chance to work at a race track.


“The goal is to get students to leave with the knowledge to get a longer, more effective life out of horses,” Cranwell said. That means students don’t simply ride: They clean the 30-stall barn, rake the sand in the 40,000-square-foot covered arena, groom and condition horses and prepare them for races. “We try to embrace the traditional and keep kids in a mode to think outside the box,” Cranwell said. “We try to emulate everything they’ll see at the racetracks. These kids could go into any barn in the United States and fit in, in 24 hours.” Since 2007, Cranwell’s summer students have helped race horses at Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack near Rochester. Most years, the track has allowed the college to keep several horses there, and two students spend the summer on site. This year, they commuted; students went to the track numerous days, prepping the horses for races and caring for them afterward. “It’s really fast paced,” said Marcie Hager, a sophomore who grew up near Parx Casino and Racing in Pennsylvania. Her grandfather raced horses there in the 1970s, when it was called Keystone Park. She’s considering a career as a blood stock agent, a professional who buys and sells Thoroughbreds on behalf of a client. Assisting at the track was new to Hager, who grew up working with hunter jumpers. At Finger Lakes, she said, “We go out and breeze the horses … We’re grooming and tacking. After the horses come back, we bathe them and use cold-water bandages.” What else? Cranwell prompted. “We examine them for nicks and cuts,” Hager responded. Cranwell nodded in approval. “Students have to get real race track experience,” Cranwell said. “They can’t just read Seabiscuit and see the back of a track.” In their fourth semester, students take a course in which they create a real-life business plan. They discuss how to calculate how many races they need to win to stay in business. They learn about dealing with jockeys, veterinarians, feed providers, and track management. “What do I always ask?” The students hesitated, then answered with him, “How much does it cost me to get up every morning?” Cranwell knows his way around horses and racetracks. He grew up on a horse farm in Nebraska, where his father and grandfather trained Thoroughbreds. He ran horses for several years, then entered academia, first at Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. Patty Galway met Cranwell through 4-H, and this was her second summer in the Morrisville program. Her parents own Galway’s Quarterhorses, a training and barrel racing barn about an hour’s drive away, in Cleveland. “I was basically born on a horse,” said Galway, a junior. “I love that process of taking an animal that

Students in Morrisville’s Thoroughbred program ride, groom and condition assigned horses. NEW YORK HORSE 57

knows nothing and training him.” She rode Feisty Elmo, a 4-year-old gelding Cranwell hopes to run at Finger Lakes. First, she walked him, then Cranwell told her to speed up. Getting the horse to listen, rather than anticipate, is an important piece of their training. “I don’t want my horses to think as soon as they get on the track, they’ll take off,” he said. “And they’ll learn to walk quietly to the barn. She’s trying to keep his nose down and push to get the most cardiovascular activity while going as slow as he can.” Cranwell has an easy way with the students, teasing them and testing their knowledge in equal measure. “It’s a really good place to train the students and exercise the horses,” he said. “When we leave here and go to the track, they know what to expect.” Two Morrisville horses trained by Cranwell and his students – Hot Idea and Don’t Back Down – won at Finger Lakes in 2015. In early August, he was still waiting for a win and quoted his mother: “You can have a barn full of stakes horses or a barn full of cripples,” he said. “Tomorrow that could change. That’s just part of the business. It’s good for these kids to see that.”

Dr. Clyde Cranwell leads the college’s Thoroughbred program, believed to be the only one where students work at a track.





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Dare to ride better Rocky Dare has been riding and training horses for more than 40 years. A National Reining Horse Association World Champion and Hall of Fame rider, Dare is also part of an elite group that has earned more than $1 million in reining competition. At the Central New York Reining Horse Association spring clinic, Dare shared tips and advice to make every rider better. On getting a horse to stop anticipating the sliding stop: “When I practice, I mix it up. I go back and forth and make the horse wait on me a lot. I want him to stop when I want him to stop. I want him thinking about me; I want him thinking about me all the time ... If the only time they go fast is when they’re going to stop, the horse gets used to that.” On the training value of circles: “Every time I think I’m losing his attention I steer him – so he’s thinking about what I’m telling him, not where he thinks he’s going next.” On spins: “When you get the front end good, the back end takes care of itself.” NEW YORK HORSE 61


You’ve Found The Perfect Horse

Now What? A pre-purchase exam is an important piece in deciding whether this is really ‘the one’



r. Christina Cable clicks the PowerPoint remote and a cartoon appears on the screen. The black-and-white panel shows a woman standing in a department store customer-service line. She’s returning a horse. Cable points at the image. This, she says, is why it’s essential to do a pre-purchase exam: “Because when they break, you can’t send them back.” Knowing nods ripple across the room. For anyone who’s ever bought the perfect horse, only to discover they were unsuitable or unsound, the subject of the cartoon is no laughing matter. NEW YORK HORSE 63

As part of a pre-purchase lameness exam, a horse should walk and trot on the longe line.

A pre-purchase exam is an objective evaluation of “the one,” says Cable, a veterinarian at Early Winter Equine in Lansing, and should examine conformation, behavior, overall health and soundness. “For me it’s the whole entire horse. I’m looking for pre-existing health concerns, but also: Are they latching onto a piece of wood and won’t stop cribbing the entire time?” Suitability – for both the rider’s experience level and the horse’s intended use – is also extremely important, Cable says. “Especially when a child is involved, I’m very concerned about suitability. I don’t want to see any child get hurt.” And so she cautions that every exam, no matter how thorough, has its limit: “It’s a snapshot of the horse on that particular day … The horse could be having the greatest day of their life and then you take them home and they’re not that great.”


That’s why a pre-purchase exam is not passfail, nor is it a long-term guarantee of soundness. It’s also, Cable says, why she typically doesn’t make a recommendation unless she sees a red flag bad enough to say “walk away from this horse.” Otherwise, it’s ultimately up to the buyer to decide what issues are deal breakers and whether to go ahead with a purchase. “I can find something wrong with anything,” she told members of the CNY Dressage & Combined Training Association, adding that she insists on full disclosure of medical records. “There’s no perfect horse. It’s all about management. What we try to find out is: If there’s a problem, can we manage it?” Where to start a pre-purchase exam? For Cable, there’s no place like home: Begin by observing the horse in its stall. How does it interact with its neighbors? Does it have any vices? Is it wearing a cribbing collar? Is it weaving?

Next is the physical exam: • The vet will check to see if the presented age of the horse is confirmed by its teeth. This method can be quite accurate for horses under the age of 9, but is much less precise from age 10 until the horse is in their late teens. • The legs will be palpated, looking for range of motion. Hoof testers will check sensation in the feet. • The neck, back and pelvis will also be palpated, checking to see if there is any soreness, malformation or masses. The skin is checked for irritations or scars; for example, an abdominal scar might indicate colic surgery. • The heart and lungs will be listened to at rest and after exercise. • The movement of the tail is checked. • An ophthalmic exam first determines if the horse is sighted, and then checks for glaucoma and equine uveitis, an immunemediated disease and a leading cause of blindness. Uveitis is commonly known as moon blindness. • Paperwork is also a key piece. New York requires a Coggins test that is current within the past 6 months as a condition of sale. Moving on to conformation, the pre-purchase exam is conducted while the horse is at rest and while walking, and looks at whether the horse’s form is optimal for the function the owner wants it to perform. “I’m a stickler for good conformation in horses. It’s the basis for all sport horses,” Cable says. “When I say a horse has good conformation, it means that horse has the best chance of performing for the longest period of time.” Cable says a vet is looking for balance and symmetry. They want to see a long, sloping shoulder – ideally at a 45-degree angle – which allows the horse to fully extend its reach. The neck should be 1.5 times the size of the head. Legs should be straight but the vet also observes the length of the bones, the angles of the joints, and the proportion and overall balance of the horse.

WHEN TO RED LIGHT AN EXAM A veterinarian will stop a pre-purchase exam, says Dr. Christina Cable, if they observe any of the following conditions in the horse: Cataracts Blindness Fever Heart arrhythmia Moderate to severe lameness

The lameness exam, another major part of any pre-purchase check, begins with the horse being asked to walk and trot in hand and on the longe line before being observed under saddle, if possible. Flexion tests will be performed, and the horse should be worked on both hard and soft footing. Under saddle, the horse will be asked to execute figure eights, many changes of direction, and transitions – both with contact and on a loose rein. Along with physical issues, when the horse is being worked under saddle, the vet is looking at temperament and training. “What kind of bit is in the horse’s mouth,” Cable asks, by way of example. “If it’s an extreme bit – why? Is this horse something only a very experienced rider should have?” The base price for a pre-purchase examination varies, but should be around $350 for a physical checkup, lameness exam and assessment of the horse’s conformation. The information obtained during the exam is owned by the prospective buyer; the seller of the horse is not privy to any of the findings, unless the buyer gives their OK. Beyond the basics – and this is based on their findings, the purchase price and the intended use of the horse – a vet may recommend additional diagnostics including x-rays, ultrasound, endoscopy, drug screening and blood work. A horse intended for grand prix competition, as a matter of course, will have a more thorough exam than one intended for pleasure riding around the backyard. “If it’s a $1,000 horse, I’m not doing $1,800 in x-rays,” says Cable. “If my client is buying a $200,000 horse, I’m x-raying everything.”

Based on their findings, the purchase price and the intended use of the horse, a vet may recommend x-rays as part of a prepurchase exam. NEW YORK HORSE 65


Fly like an elite equine athlete You’ll need a passport, a hay net and your best halter

Air Horse One

The world’s best equine athletes fly – at approximately $20,000 per horse – on special cargo planes with controlled temperature zones and customized stalls.

Carry-on baggage


Horses bound for the Olympics flew on an Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F. Stallions travel at the front of the plane so they aren’t distracted by the mares.

Airplane food

Bran mash before they get on the flight, then hay and water throughout the flight. Some horses like apple juice in their water to make it a bit tastier.

Best hoof forward


Every horse has a passport but, unlike human athletes, they must be microchipped to travel. An FEI equine passport costs $300. 66 NEW YORK HORSE

A fashionable yet comfortable halter makes an appropriate fashion statement. There will be paparazzi.


In addition to tack, bedding, water, hay and the occasional good luck charm, each horse is also allowed one large hay net; their own personal bucket; and a small overnight bag with a spare halter and blanket, in case it gets chilly.

Reserved seating


“Torture yourself, not your horse”


Good posture, practicing patience and other lessons from an Olympian



ull your chest up,” says Lisa Wilcox, and not only does the rider snap to, but so does an entire row of spectators. There is not a single sagging spine in the arena. Ah, yes. Generations of mothers have nagged generations of children to sit up straight. Woe to the grown-up child riding with Wilcox at this three-day clinic who did not absorb that lesson. Wilcox, who won a team silver medal in dressage at the 2002 World Equestrian Games, and a team bronze at the 2004 Summer Olympics, is a stickler for good posture. She has been since her days in Pony Club, when every girl wore a Lacoste polo with a green ‘gator embroidered on the chest. The mantra then, Wilcox recalls, was “Alligators up!” And as the rider who showed up for Lesson No. 2 in a baggy shirt discovered, not only won’t over-sized clothes disguise your slouch, it will draw a lecture from Wilcox on dressing appropriately and with respect for the discipline. Here then are a Baker’s Dozen of tips NY Horse gleaned from her clinic at Canterbury Stables in Cazenovia, starting with – of course – the posture imperative:

“Pull your chest up. If you pull your chest up, your seat bones will be properly aligned and your stomach and back muscles become engaged ... You need to take these habits into daily life. When you’re in the car. When you’re walking down the street. And then you take it into the tack.”

“Practice patience. There are no shortcuts. If someone’s going to teach you to do the splits, they don’t push you down to the ground on the first try.”


“From the saddle up, your body should look like a ballerina. Nothing moves. Except for the sweat dripping down your forehead, nothing above the saddle moves.”


“Each individual aid is an instrument and they’re all working together in an orchestra and they’re all supposed to be making beautiful music.”

5 6

“Use two times more leg than hand. The rule of thumb is: You can never have hand without leg.”

“Horses are happy to oblige if they understand our language. Our language is our seat. Your technique in the tack is your language ... We can’t speak to them. There would be a lot more people doing this if we could just say to horses, ‘Get on the bit.’”

7 8

“Two-thirds outside rein, one-third inside rein. Never more inside rein than outside.”

“The more the horse trusts you, the more his body will give. You never want them to be afraid of you, just respectful. You want them to listen.”


“The horse is a computer. We are the keyboard. If the program isn’t answering, it’s because we put something in wrong. The horse isn’t failing to respond to make us angry.”


“You can’t blame them for trying if they got away with something once. That’s how well they download information.”



“Every horse has his good side and his less good side. We, as riders, can’t have a less good side. We can’t let a stiffness in us create a stiffness or distortion in them.”

12 “From the saddle up, your body should look like a ballerina,” says Lisa Wilcox, shown here on Gallant Reflection HU at the 2015 Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse Dressage National Championships.

“The connection has to be adjustable, not a thousand pounds of cement that you can’t touch.”


“Less is more. Start always with less and add more as needed. Torture yourself, not your horse.” NEW YORK HORSE 67


What’s Behind that Bellyache? What veterinarians wish owners knew about colic (Editor’s note: This column is produced at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine with the help of college faculty)


t’s evening. You walk down the aisle to make sure your herd is settled for the night. You look into Rocky’s stall — and your heart sinks. Rocky is (a) staring, and occasionally nipping, at his flanks; (b) walking endless circles; (c) sweaty and pawing; (d) miserable

Horses are meant to be chewing 20 hours a day. Reduce the risk for colic by giving them smaller, more frequent meals.


and rolling. You won’t be going to bed tonight: Rocky has colic. What do you do first? (a) Get the Banamine; (b) hand-walk Rocky until dawn; (c) wait and see what happens; (d) call Rocky’s vet. “Every once in a while I hear someone say ‘Oh, it’s just colic.’ I want to say, ‘Yes, but there are many different reasons for colic,’ ” says Dr. Gillian Perkins, medical director at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals. Colic is not a diagnosis; it’s a clinical sign, she says. “Horses can have bellyaches for many reasons. Some are simple and easy

to fix; others require surgery. And there are conditions that make horse seem colicky when it’s something else, so you do need a vet to take a look.” A vet who gets a call about a colic will want certain information. When did Rocky first begin showing symptoms? Did he eat well today? Did the symptoms start suddenly, or has he been a little off for a while? Has he passed manure? If so, is it liquid? Soft? Hard little balls? What is Rocky’s temperature and pulse? What is he doing right now? Is he fairly stoic about pain, or a little wimpy? Try to provide as many details as you can.

The vet is on the way. Now what? “Put the horse in an area where it can be observed – in a stall if possible – so you can tell if he has passed manure,” says Dr. Perkins. “Provide water, but no food, so there isn’t a snowball effect of things getting packed up in there.” Dr. Perkins discourages the use of Banamine at this point. If you do use it, administer it orally and be sure to tell the vet. If Rocky will cooperate, it’s good to hand walk him while you wait. When the vet arrives, she will consider Rocky’s outward appearance: Is he alert? Is his abdomen distended? She will check his mucous membranes for dehydration and recheck his heart rate, respiration and temperature. If Rocky is in a lot of pain and his heart rate is high—signs of a stomach at risk of

rupturing—she may use a stomach tube to syphon out excess gas and fluid. The vet will perform a rectal exam to assess Rocky’s gastrointestinal tract, checking for gas distention, impactions and masses. She can also determine whether his gastrointestinal structures are in the right position; the colon, for example, can get stuck between the spleen and a kidney. In many cases the exam turns up a minor issue and the case can be resolved on the farm. If not, Rocky may have to go to the hospital. That doesn’t mean he is heading straight for the operating room, says Dr. Perkins. “We will try to treat most horses without surgery,” she says. “If the colic is caused by impaction, we will run IV fluids and use the stomach tube to administer mineral oil and fluid directly into the gut to help the horse pass it. If there is inflammation it may be colitis, especially this time of year. Potomac Horse Fever can present like colic, too, and we can treat them with IV fluids and antibiotics.” If Rocky is taken to Cornell, the veterinarians will re-examine him, repeating many of the same tests such as a rectal exam and passing a stomach tube. They will order blood tests to look for infection, changes in electrolytes and kidney function and underlying disease. Abdominal ultrasound examination is performed to help visualize structures in the abdomen. They also may draw fluid from Rocky’s peritoneum to see if his intestines are leaking protein or red blood cells. If so, “That means the intestines are damaged in a way that most often only surgery can fix” says Dr. Perkins, and the sooner it’s done, the better: “Within 12 hours of the small intestines being twisted they could start leaking bacteria, which causes secondary problems such as peritonitis. Then other organs can become inflamed and dysfunctional.” Other conditions that require surgery include certain colon displacement, twisted intestines and, in older horses, strangulating lipomas, which are fatty tumors that wrap around the intestine. When the diagnosis is less clear, the vets

may recommend exploratory surgery. “During exploratory abdominal surgery, we have a checklist for examining the entire abdomen,” says Dr. Perkins. “We may be able to confirm a diagnosis—or we may find things that were undetectable in an exam. Even after 20 years, I will find something unexpected in surgery.” Recently she discovered a twisted small intestine, a condition usually seen in older horses, in a 2-year-old. Colic surgery costs thousands of dollars, and medical management of colic with intravenous fluids can also be costly. Many horse owners are hardpressed to afford them. “If you want to be able to do everything for your horse, get medical insurance,” advises Dr. Perkins. “Planning for problems is important.” Finally, do what you can to prevent colic. Risk factors include the way most of us manage horses nowadays. “Horses are meant to be chewing 20 hours a day,” Dr. Perkins says. “This creates buffers that counteract the stomach acids that can lead to ulcers. They won’t get that effect if we feed them big slugs of grain or hay twice a day; they need smaller, more frequent meals.” An abrupt change in feed can trigger colic. Dr. Perkins recalls a case in which owners suddenly switched their whole herd to pelleted feeds because one of their horses had heaves. Feed changes should take place over many days, she says: “The gut bacteria need time to change.” Worms used to be a major cause of colic: ascarids can cause impactions; tapeworms damage and inflame the gut wall; and strongyles clog the arteries leading to the intestines. “Worming has definitely made a big difference in preventing colic,” says Dr. Perkins, “so be sure to work with your veterinarian to determine an appropriate worming protocol for your horse.” The Cornell University Equine Hospital, an affiliate of Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, offers state-of-the-art emergency care, diagnostic procedures, treatment, and hospitalization. For consultations and appointments, call (607) 253-3100 (press 1 for emergencies) or email NEW YORK HORSE 69


Establishing ‘kindly’ honesty at horse shows Western dressage judge urges an end to ‘throwing high points’ at riders


believe there is a balance between being stingy with points and sprinkling fairy dust over the movements so the numbers magically multiply,” says Anna Schriebl, licensed Western Dressage judge and trainer. Schriebel wrote about the need for uniform standards and honesty in judging. Here are excerpts: “Trainers and riders are more than their show record … I know many very good trainers who don’t show but enjoy the process of bringing a horse

up through the levels. Unfortunately, I also know many trainers that show an exhausted, poorly trained horse every weekend for self-glory. “That same tired schoolmaster/pushbutton horse is used for rider after rider to get their medals and awards and the rider is left with the false perception that they earned the scores because of their skillful riding. And here is where we must separate the wheat from the chaff as judges, because many uneducated riders may choose their trainer based only on their, and their students’, show records. “Speaking the truth in love, as I put it, means that the latter group of trainers and riders will hear kindly, but firmly, that they are not meeting standards and need to go home and get help with the basics. If all judges remain true to their craft, the cycle of endless rewards for substandard performance will halt and trainers will make an effort to improve their education. “However, judges must stand united. If some throw high points at anyone who enters the ring and others remain

diligent, the ribbon chasers will show under the judge who is more lenient. These are the facts of horse show life. “… Our sport is one that has a large community of dressage enthusiasts with a very educated eye. They know a bad ride when they see one — no matter who the rider is. The judge is the horse and rider’s ally, not their enemy. An ally gives honest analysis of the good and the bad in a performance. We can make a difference for the better in the horse community by remaining fair, unbiased and, most of all, kindly honest.”


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“Hot-walkers led horses in lazy circles between the barns, while other horses stood relishing the flow of cool water from garden hoses trained on their forelegs. Grooms swabbed horses with soapy sponges and rubbed them dry. The rhythmic throbbing of hooves could be heard from the track itself, where horses were working.’’ — Red Smith “A Lovely Morning Under the Elms,” New York Times, Aug. 12, 1981


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