Page 1




New York’s

The Artful Horse goes to the IEA Hunt Seat Nationals Peak Performance: Ride the Adirondacks PLUS






Canterbury Stables warm and welcoming

Building Better Riders Since 2006 Hunt Seat and Dressage Lessons Tailored to your Goals Let us Make Your Equestrian Dreams a Reality!

At Canterbury Stables, we’re passionate about excellence. Set on 225 rolling acres in the heart of Cazenovia’s horse country, Canterbury offers the finest in hunter/jumper and dressage lessons in a family-friendly atmosphere. Coming this Summer! A new, state-of-the-art hunter/jumper arena

We are dedicated to providing quality lessons tailored to each rider’s age, level and goals, and the boarding, care and training of performance and pleasure horses. Canterbury Stables 4786 Roberts Road, Cazenovia, NY Call: 315-440-2244


Features 29

Gigi’s Journey

Redemption for a good horse who tried her best to race at the top but just couldn’t do it


The Belmont at 150

The defining third act of the Triple Crown celebrates a milestone anniversary as the ‘test of the champion’


‘A State of Heart and Mind’

Call him New York’s cow-poet laureate: Mark Munzert preserves the western way in metered rhyme


Wild at Heart

In 100 days, Emma and Jack Minteer take mustangs from untamed to under saddle


EQ Style

They’ve always been an American classic; now jeans and boots are hip and haute


A Cut Above

When it comes to cows, New York is dairy not longhorn – just don’t tell that to National Cutting Horse Hall of Famer Joel Cohen.


Heels Down, Eyes on the Prize

The Artful Horse was ringside as the Interscholastic Equestrian Association national hunt seat finals came to Syracuse 2 NEW YORK HORSE


The Show Trunk II

Equestrian style for your ride. Fashion for your life!

The perfect fit for the competitive edge This show season, stay cool and collected with our winning combination of classic style, comfort, and functional design


10% off for IEA & IHSA members and Professionals* Look for our new on-line store coming in May 2018!

Stacy Lowe-Jonas, Hugh Jonas 2335 Dryden Road (Route 13) Dryden, NY 13053 607-227-2538

Showroom Open: Monday, Thursday & Friday 11 am — 6 pm Saturday & Sunday 10 am — 5pm * Where permitted Follow us on Facebook


The Guide 63 64 65 66 67 68 69


Jump Start

There’s a reason why she’s Queen B(eezie)

On the Cover Artist Steve Messenger uses color to capture the essence of his equine subjects. He worked as a groom before turning to art, and his paintings reflect that intimate understanding of the equine spirit. In our cover painting, Red Jump, Messenger reveals the heart of the liberty jumper. Look for his work at equineartbystevemessenger. 4 NEW YORK HORSE


Ride the Adirondacks

Go Off the Beaten Path as The Guide travels to the Great North Woods Stop 1: Debar Mountain Wild Forest

Discover the old-growth trees and wilderness waters tucked into the northernmost point of the park Stop 2: Moose River Plains

Explore a patchwork landscape of river valleys, low mountains, and remote ponds Stop 3: Otter Creek

Ride the ‘champagne of trails’ where woodlands meet foothills on the western edge of the forest preserve Stop 4: Great Camp Santanoni

Journey along an old carriage road to an elegant wilderness retreat whose guests once included Teddy Roosevelt Stop 5: Frontier Town

Step back to the future as the abandoned Western theme park is transformed into a new hub for camping with your horse Stop 6: Short Carries

Sample a double handful of equestrian destinations from the rugged backcountry of Cold River to the more civilized recreation of the Luzerne Campground

Departments 8 11 12 14 18 20 72

Collected Thoughts

It’s the season of long days on a long rein and boy, have we earned it Thanks To Our Underwriters Calendar

Shake a hoof: It’s show season. Roadtrip, meanwhile, is off to the Gold Cup. Leg Up

News, Notes and Conversation Starters Insight: NY’s Horses by the Numbers

The No. 1 breed and other “Did you know?” nuggets from the American Horse Council survey Armchair Equestrian

A book to raise a horse lover’s spirits – and we have a copy to give away Parting Shot

Why equestrian sport is unique in the world


On this, we can all agree…


here isn’t much that horse people can agree about other than the fact that we’re horse people. We disagree on whether it’s one hand on the reins or two. Whether it’s britches or breeches. Sequins or shadbellies. We can’t even agree on whether our patient mounts jog or trot, canter or lope. (At least we have a united front on walk and gallop.) Here at New York Horse, we have navigated the rocky shoals of competing disciplines for long enough to realize that: A. the best discipline is the one ridden by the person currently talking to us and, B. everyone else is sadly mistaken, nuts, or a combination of both. (For the record, the current occupant of the NYH editorial chair has been riding since she was 3 – long enough to have been tossed off horses practicing rather a few disciplines known to humankind and several the beasts made up on the spot.) But as the winter of everyone’s discontent melts into a luxury of warmth, the long days and lush grass bring with it a rare point of equestrian consensus: We’ve earned this one. For anyone who was fortunate enough to be elsewhere, this is the 60-second rewind: The thermometer measured 64 degrees on Feb. 28, and just as everyone was thinking – Yesss! – it started to snow and would not stop. Even here, where a half-foot of snow simply makes for an annoying commute, it was over-egging the pudding. Those of us who are charter members of the 30-80 club – no riding unless the temperature is over 30 and under 80 – figured we’d never put a foot in a stirrup again. We were wrong of course. “No winter lasts forever,” as the nature writer Hal Borland once said. “No spring skips its turn.” And so, here we are, in the season of pony camp, blue ribbons and long afternoons on a long rein. The season of new foals playing in the grass on new little hooves, and old hands hard at work in newly green fields. We have curried enough winter coat to knit a new horse. We have earned this. Summer’s equine pleasures are many and fleeting. Get out there and ride.


CENTRAL NEW YORK DRESSAGE & COMBINED TRAINING ASSOCIATION Join us for a very special event USDF National Education Initiative Clinic with Olympian Courtney King Dye August 25&26 at the Cazenovia College Equestrian Center


Full Service Training and Boarding

Marcellus, NY open year-round Join us in Aiken, SC from January-April

Airy barns with heated tack rooms 30 acres of lush, fenced pasture for tailored turnout 80’x160 indoor arena with Tru-stride dust-free footing 120’x120’ outdoor arena with Tru-stride footing 20 matted stalls with heated water buckets Five acre cross-country field with ditches, water jump, and bank complex Eventing, dressage and jumping trainer on site Access to miles of trails for all disciplines Jeremy Dingy, Trainer 315.730.0817 | Chacea Sundman, Owner 315.382.2790


Nationally Honored for Excellence



NEW YORK HORSEÂŽ Owners Janis Barth Peter Barth Editor 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; Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC; Cornell University Hospital for Animals; New York State Fair; Morrisville State College; Sundman Stables; New York Farm Bureau; Central New York Dressage and Combined Training Association; Central New York Reining Horse Association and New York State Horse Council.


Art Director Darren Sanefski

EDITORIAL 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 Zip

Please send a check or money order for $10 to: New York Horse Box 556 Cazenovia, NY 13035 Save 40% off the cover price and receive beautiful photography, local stories, and the New York Horse Guide to tips, expert advice, and secrets worth stealing.

Contributing Editor Barbara Lindberg Contributing Writers Brien Bouyea Melissa Osgood Katie Navarra LA Pomeroy Contributing Photographers Jessica Berman Tony Parkes Michael Davis Tricia Booker Michelle Walters Liz Gregg Heather Hall


To inquire about advertising Email: Phone: 315-378-2800

New York Horse magazine is published 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. New York Horse is a registered trademark of Tremont8 Media. 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.



New York Horse is a proud member of Farm Bureau and New York State Horse Council


Canterbury Stables W O R L D


C L A S S ,



Address: 4786 Roberts Road, Cazenovia Phone: 315-440-2244 • Email:

One Strong Voice for the Future of Horses Join today at: www.

Promoting the sport of Reining through shows, clinics and educational seminars

New York Horse is proud to be a media partner with HITS Look for us at HITS’ premier hunter/jumper venue in Saugerties, home to the $1 Million Grand Prix FEI CSI-5*, and the new Indoor Championship at the Exposition Center in Syracuse.


JUNE 15-17 26-July 1

National Barrel Horse Association Syracuse Spectacular Super Show, Toyota Coliseum, New York State Fairgrounds, Syracuse. All divisions, from beginners to pros. Free admission. More information at

Lake Placid horse show begins, followed by I Love New York Horse Show July 3-8, both at Cascade Road grounds, Lake Placid. Two weeks of top hunter/jumper competition from pony classes to grand prix. More information at


American Saddlebred Horse Association 45th annual Syracuse International Horse Show, Toyota Coliseum, NYS Fairgrounds. Also saddle seat equitation, Hackney and Morgan classes. More information at

JULY 20-22 AUGUST 2-5 18-19 22-Sept. 3 SEPTEMBER 20-23 OCTOBER 19-21 13-14 24-28

Lorenzo Driving Competition, Lorenzo State Historic Site, Cazenovia. New this year: A third day of driven dressage and timed country drive with cones course. More information at Attica Rodeo 61st annual show, Exchange Street Arena, Attica. Each rodeo starts with the Grand Entry and bronc riding and ends with bull riding. More information at US Eventing Association recognized horse trials sponsored by Genesee Valley Riding and Driving Club, horse trials grounds, Geneseo. More information at

New York State Fair Horse Show, Toyota Coliseum. Twelve days of competition; highlights include the 6- and 8-horse hitch, and breed classes including Palomino and AQHA. More information at Region 8 Championships/New England Dressage Association Fall Festival, HITS showgrounds, Saugerties. More information at

CNY Reining Horse Association Fall Classic and Northeast Breeders Trust Futurity, NYS Fairgrounds Coliseum. More information at

North American Police Equestrian Council Horse Show, Erie County Fairgrounds, Hamburg. Obstacle course that includes maneuvering giant beach balls, equitation and uniform classes. More information at

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

HITS Indoor Championship, hunter and equitation classes for junior and amateur riders, fence heights from 2' to 3'6". Inaugural show at the new Expo Center at the state fairgrounds. More information at


LEG UP: ROAD TRIP The show-jumping world says Welcome to New York for the American Gold Cup


he American Gold Cup, one of the most prestigious stops on the international show jumping circuit, returns Sept. 26-30 to Old Salem Farm, North Salem, for the seventh consecutive year. Over five days, the show jumping classic showcases the power, speed and excitement of world-class equestrian competition in a classic venue. Competition this year includes a number of important FEI ranking events, culminating on Sunday, Sept. 30, with the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping New York. Gather on the historic showgrounds and watch top riders, fresh off the FEI World Equestrian Games, going head-to-head for the coveted

American Gold Cup 4-star victory. But there’s more to Old Salem than show jumping. Family entertainment begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, including pony rides and face painting. The JustWorld International Horseless Horse Show – open to kids of all ages – is a Sunday signature. Admission is free Wednesday-Friday, and highlights include the American Gold Cup Qualifier, which whittles the field for Sunday’s grand prix to the 40 best athletes. Weekend tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for children ages 4-12, seniors 65 and older, and military members. Children 3 and under are free. For more information go to

Leg Up

News, Notes and Conversation Starters Manlius trainer Thomas Hoyt wins National Reining Horse Association Reserve World Championship On the road again was the soundtrack to Thomas Hoyt’s show season, but the long hours led to a spectacular finish: Hoyt rode Pinstripe Benz to the National Reining Horse Association’s Reserve World Championship in Intermediate Open. “I put 30,000 miles on my truck, me and Pinstripe,” said

Hoyt, owner, with wife Jennifer, of Hoyts Training in Manlius. “I think I showed him 42 times.” The 7-year-old gelding was always a special horse. He’s owned by Cole Jacobs, a para-reiner, and he was purchased because he had an automatic stop. But, to spin a phrase, that was just the start. Over weekends that could – and did – begin in Florida, jump to New Jersey and wind up with a show in Kentucky, Benz showed he had the heart and brains of a champion. “Great minded,” Hoyt calls him. Unflappable is another good word: “He’d come off the trailer like he was walking out of his stall at home,” Hoyt said. Talking about himself, Hoyt characteristically downplays his talent. A world-class horseman – he is long-listed for this year’s World Equestrian Games – Hoyt credits his work ethic as the secret to success. “There’s no way to train horses without riding them,” he said. “To get the results, you’ve got to put in the time.” As for other secrets he’s willing to share, Hoyt said it comes down to a single word: “The one thing I try to instill in all my riders is you’ve got to have confidence. Where you have to be real careful about confidence is that you can’t get cocky. Do your preparation.” What comes next is a regular show season, Hoyt said, with less time on the road and more time at his home barn. Still, he wouldn’t do it differently. “I’m pretty proud,” Hoyt told NRHA Reiner. “This horse shows he can do it all.”

New flu shot for horses also helps protect humans Horses get the flu, too. Now an improved equine influenza vaccine has been developed at the University of Rochester, where researchers say the advance is also a significant step to protect people. Proactively preventing the spread of flu in animals is important, as they are the most likely source of future human pandemics, said Luis Martinez-Sobrido, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the university’s Medical Center. This is the first update in more than 25 years to the vaccine for horses. The new, live vaccine is a nasal spray and is safe and more protective than what is currently available. Equine influenza is in North America and Europe and is highly contagious. 14 NEW YORK HORSE

Heavenly Prize elected to Racing Hall of Fame Eclipse Award-winning filly Heavenly Prize has been elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs. The lone contemporary selection from the 10 finalists chosen by the Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee, Heavenly Prize will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 3 at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is open to the public and free to attend.

For New York riders, teams, and horses, the 2018 Interscholastic Equestrian Association hunt seat finals were a cause for celebration. Leading the list of champions was Tomiko McGovern, pictured right, who rides for Lucky C Stables in New Paltz. Tomiko took three blues – USHJA Varsity Open on the Flat (Individual); Varsity Open Champion and 2018 Leading Hunt Seat Rider; Varsity Open on the Flat (Team) – and the top rider trophy. She was the only rider at the national finals in Syracuse that qualified six out of seven possible years. Other blues went to: Chloe Love, Lucky C Stables, Varsity Intermediate on the Flat (Team); Varsity Intermediate Over Fences, 2’ (Team)

Kylee Scanlon, Parkview Equestrian, Central Islip, Future Intermediate on the Flat (Team) Aiden Brancaccio, Sagamore Hill Stable, Huntington, Future Beginner on the Flat (Team) Charlotte Subak, Lucky C Stables, Junior Varsity, Beginner on the Flat (Team) Gina Diliberti, Farmstead Equestrian Team, Melville, Junior Varsity Novice Over Fences, X-rails (Individual) Both team championships stayed in the state with Lucky C Stables the upper school champ and Parkview Equestrian the middle school leader. And a special tip of the helmet to Cazenovia College’s Twister, who was chosen as the competition’s outstanding hunt seat horse A full gallery of photos from the IEA begins on page 23.


New York champs at the IEA Nationals NEW YORK HORSE 15


Simply the best B


eezie Madden clinched the 2018 FEI World Cup jumping title — her second — but she didn’t do it the easy way. In a cliffhanger of a second round, Madden was the last to go with her brilliant stallion Breitling LS and, as the crowd in Paris gasped, faulted for the first time in three tough days of jumping. Fans in the packed arena held their collective breath until she crossed the line to a roar of approval, separated by just two penalty points from fellow America Devin Ryan in second place. You could hear a pin drop after Breitling hit the middle element of the triple combination at fence six. One more error would hand the title to Ryan, but Madden — who counts two Olympic gold medals among her many trophies – didn’t crumble, bringing Breitling home for a very popular victory. Madden, whose home base is Cazenovia, claimed her first title in 2013 and said it was “double-exciting” to post her second win, and particularly with Breitling. “We’ve really believed in him, but he’s taken time to mature, so for him to come through today is fantastic,” she said. “When I had that rail down I was a little nervous, but I still felt my horse was jumping well and I knew I had to pull it together to finish on four (faults) and try to get it done!” Only five female athletes have taken the World Cup title in its 40-year history, and all have been American. Madden will be aiming to join the elite club of three-time champions when the Final returns to Gothenburg, Sweden, next April.


“The true unity and willing communication between the horse and (rider) is not something that can be handed to someone — it has to be learned. It has to come from the inside of a person and the inside of a horse.” — Tom Dorrance NEW YORK HORSE 17


New York Horses by the Numbers


orses are big business in New York, whether they are drawing railbirds to one of the state’s 11 Thoroughbred and harness racing tracks, competing in shows from county fairs to million-dollar grand prix, or happily nibbling grass in the backyard. The American Horse Council’s Economic Impact Study, published this spring, showed the state’s equine industry is now the second-largest agricultural sector. It has grown by $1.1 billion and added nearly 10,000 jobs in the past five years. “Horses are an invaluable asset for New York, and a thriving equine industry is vital to the state’s economy,” said Joe Appelbaum, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which underwrote the state’s breakout survey. Among the highlights:


The number of horses in New York, putting it in the top 20 states in the nation in terms of horse population

$5.3 billion

Total economic Impact of the horse industry. Racing is the largest sector, contributing $3.08 billion to the economy and supporting 19,704 full-time jobs. Horse shows and other competitions are second, with a total impact of $1.08 billion and 11,339 jobs. Recreation is the third-largest sector, adding $765 million in economic impact and 7,965 jobs


Total number of full-time jobs generated by the equine industry


1.3 million


The number of acres of land in the state used for horse-related purposes

The number of Thoroughbreds in New York, making them the state’s most popular breed. Standardbreds are second, with 25,000


The number of residents who volunteer their time for horses and horse-related activities


The number of AHC survey respondents who said they trail ride in New York but are from out of state. The vast majority of trail riders — 87% — said they use public lands.


Images and words to lift a horse lover’s spirits


e love them even when they put their head on our shoulder, pause just long enough to make us think it’s a hug, and then itch their nose frantically on our freshlyclean fleece. Love them even when they see dead people standing ringside at the horse show and when they walk over with a worried expression to see if we are dead after they bucked us off. Spirit: A book of happiness for horse lovers, is the answer to those days when it feels as if the horse-human relationship is more of a horse-‘tell me again why I’ve picked this particular form of torture?’ relationship. It’s an unexpected read, a compendium of enduring quotes and beautiful images that capture the essence of our affection for horses, the bond that

WIN THIS We have a copy of Spirit: A book of happiness for horse lovers to give away to one of our readers. To enter, send an email with your name and address to Put “Spirit” in the subject line. We’ll take entries until August 1, and then pick a winner at random from the emails we receive. Good luck!

remains through the good, the very good, and the ‘I’m sorry I ran, but that fly was trying to kill me.’ Spirit ($19.95 hardcover, Exisle Publishing) celebrates the ability of horses to touch our hearts and connect with us in a way that few other animals can. Horses offer some of our greatest inspiration, and least expensive forms of psychotherapy. As one quote in the book aptly puts it: “All I pay my psychiatrist is

the cost of feed and hay, and he’ll listen to me any day.” Open to any page and there is a reason to laugh, nod in recognition or simply reflect. Quotes come from the famous (Winston Churchill: “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.); the anonymous (“I’ve spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I’ve just wasted.”); and the unexpected (Ian Fleming: “A horse is dangerous at both ends and uncomfortable in the middle.”) To editor Anouska Jones, it’s not surprising that they have inspired memorable quotes. Horses, she writes in the introduction, “offer us some of our deepest friendship and inspire us to be the best version of ourselves.” And really, what better reason is there to put pen to paper?

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.

1 in 3 The number of horse owners who have a senior equine


Out of 794 trainers competing in this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover, the number that are from New York



The percent of women in the class that entered Cornell Veterinary in fall 2017 (100 vs. 21 men)


The number of horses in the U.S., according to the American Horse Council; Texas has the most

$122B The total economic impact of the equine industry in the United States

Cayuga Dressage and Combined Training Club Upcoming Shows

June 9-10: Dressage in Wine Country I and II Level 2 USEF/USDF Competition at the Chemung County Fairgrounds, Horseheads. 2018 Qualifier for GAIG/USDF/Regional Championships/ National Pony Cup, USDF Dressage Seat, Medal Semi-Finals and USDF Regional Adult Amateur Equitation Program. Offering Freestyle. Judges: Lisa Schmidt, S and Joanne Bouwhuis, S August 12: Casual show at Oxley Equestrian Center, Cornell University, Ithaca. Judge: Ann Forer, R Dressage, R eventing Entry forms, prize lists and updates at

Serving the Agricultural Community with Pride • Equine Feeds, Nutrena, Purina and Triple Crown • Dry, Bagged, Bulk Fertilizer & Lime • All types of Dairy and Farm Feeds available In Our Garden Center & Gift Shop • Garden supplies & Unique Gift Items • Bulk and Packaged Vegetable & Garden Seeds • Bedding Plants, Shrubs, Fruit & Shade Trees • Hanging Baskets, Roses & Perennials • ❤ Your Hometown! Choose from one of our 72 Different Coffee Mugs

Delivery Service Available ( 3 1 5 ) 8 5 2 - 3 3 1 6 • 6 D e w e y A v e n u e , D e R u y t e r , N . Y. 1 3 0 5 2 • D e R u y t e r C o o p . c o m •

Artful orse H The

Behind the scenes at the IEA hunt seat finals, we captured bright lights, blue ribbons, and the quiet moments in between PHOTOS BY MICHAEL DAVIS


hey began with nearly 11,000 riders in barns across America; the oldest off to college next year, the youngest still in garters with ribbon bows holding back their braids. Over seven months – through 628 local shows, regionals, and zones – the thousands were whittled to the nation’s best young hunt seat riders, from beginner to Open, in classes over fences and on the flat. They came together for three days in April, at the Interscholastic Equestrian Association finals in Syracuse, where the best became one. A single blue ribbon, one champion from the many. And so there were smiles. Countless, but among the brightest from Tomiko McGovern of New Paltz. In her final year as an IEA rider, Tomiko had the competition that is every rider’s dream: She took home three blues for Lucky C Stables and the crown of Varsity Open Champion and 2018 Leading Hunt Seat Rider. There were tears, too. That there was no callback, that nerves overtook countless hours of practice, that neither spurs nor force of will would make that #!*% horse canter cleanly

when it mattered most. Champions all, for their dedication to the sport, their work ethic, and for being one of the final eight to stand center ring at the venerable fairgrounds Coliseum with a ribbon in hand. The color, in the final reckoning, unimportant. And there was grace, and good sportsmanship, and hugs of both comfort and joy. For that is what IEA is about: “introducing as many youngsters as we can to equestrian sport,” as Roxane Durant, IEA co-founder and executive director, would say. No rider needs to own a horse. Instead, in a format that measures horsemanship not family resources, riders draw their horses the day of competition and enter the arena after a brief, if any, warm up. Three days, and the 2018 IEA finals were in the record book. Twice, as Durant noted. Yes, they’d set a membership record for the 16th consecutive year. But the one that made history – the asterisk that only Syracuse could provide – was this: Here in Central New York, Mother Nature’s stunt double for “Frozen,” they held the first IEA finals with snow. NEW YORK HORSE 23


“Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months, and years they spend preparing for it.” — T. Alan Armstrong NEW YORK HORSE 25


“I’m a firm believer that it’s the journey not the destination, and I’ve been to a lot of great destinations.” — Anne Kursinski NEW YORK HORSE 27 NEW YORK HORSE 29



alk out of the barn and the otter-brown work-in-progress pops her head over the paddock gate, ears pricked, eyes kind. Greeley’s Grace – Gigi – was born in New York and bred to run fast. The dappled bay with the white star was one of 25,000 Thoroughbreds foaled in 2010. She trained, she worked hard and, at age 3, the filly by Greeley’s Galaxy out of Freud Ian Girl set hoof on track and promptly finished third in her first race at Finger Lakes – a semi-promising start to what would be an unremarkable career. Over the next four years, she ran in 34 races, won four times, and earned $47,685. Last August, after finishing second in a claiming race for also-rans, her days of galloping counter-clockwise were over. The price to take her was $3,500. No one took her. She was sound, she was smart, she worked hard, and trusted people. She went out every day and did her job. She just wasn’t good enough at the job she was born to do.


have some horses for you to see,” the exercise rider hollered. The small knot of horse seekers swiveled in her direction, among them Heather Hall. She was out that day with Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds – a non-profit dedicated to second careers for retired racehorses – looking for something that was conformationally correct and a decent mover. She’d bought her first retired racehorse when she was 16, a gelding whose time had expired. He was on his way to the auction at New Holland, and from there to the slaughter house, when Hall stopped the clock. “I paid way too much for him … but he was definitely a crash course in offthe-track Thoroughbreds,” she said. “He bucked you off. He lunged at you. But he taught me a lot.” Among those lessons: “Thoroughbreds are amazing horses. They’re the quintessential sport horse. When they find something they like and they’re really good at, they try their hearts out.” And so, that day at Finger Lakes, NEW YORK HORSE 31

there was redemption for the worthy horse who tried her very best to race at the top but just couldn’t do it. “When Gigi came out, it was love at first sight,” Hall remembered. “She was moving so gracefully, so beautifully. She was a little feisty on her lead rope, but she had such a sweet eye.” With no job, and no clear future, Gigi’s price was now $2,000. “I said ‘all right, we’ll take her home.’” At Reign Storm Eventing in Verona – Hall’s 42-acre sanctuary from her day job with the Department of Defense – Gigi took up residence with eight other horses and a miniature donkey. They began slowly, working over cavalettis and on a longe line, exposing her to different spooky things, never pushing 32 NEW YORK HORSE

Gigi beyond where she could go, but never letting her accept that ‘no’ was an answer to anything she was asked. “She’s very willing to work,” Hall said, “but we had a bit of a conversation with her about being a racehorse. She would run and then stop and say ‘OK, I’m done, I’ve got my energy out.’ We had to explain to her that she was going to work for a while longer.” At the end of the year, equine kindergarten complete, Gigi moved a few miles down the road to Voltra Farm to continue her education. She has a natural roundness and wants to carry herself in a way that Hall believes makes her a dressage prospect. Maybe someday, she hopes, an eventer. But for now, their eye is on the middle distance. In October, fulfilling a dream Hall has had for years, she and Gigi will contend in dressage for the $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover, a competition in which professional and amateur

trainers take recently retired racehorses and, over 10 months, teach them new disciplines from polo to barrel racing. By then, hooves crossed, Gigi will have replaced galloping around an oval with a refined canter on a 20-meter circle. “I would love to cross-enter her in jumping but I want to get her confirmed in her body and gaits before I take her to fences,” Hall said. “I don’t want to push her too quickly.”


hrough the Makeover, the signature event of the Retired Racehorse Project, Hall and 30 other New York trainers are contributing both to the renaissance of the American Thoroughbred as sport horse, and to second acts for horses who might otherwise be given up for naught. This year, a record 794 trainers will take part in the Makeover finals at the Kentucky Horse Park, including four-star

eventers, A-circuit hunter riders, and grand prix show jumpers. The youngest trainer is 11; the oldest is 71. “Thoroughbred racehorses are fantastic riding horses,” says Steuart Pittman, board chairman of the Retired Racehorse Project. “The work that we do is to bring out their best. It’s like a recycling program: Rather than breed new ones, look for the ones that already exist ... These are the greatest horses on the planet.” At Dodon Farm in Maryland, on land that has been in his family for eight generations, Pittman trains his own off-the-track Thoroughbreds. They make up about 80 percent of the horses in his barn, ambassadors who showcase the breadth and depth of what the breed can accomplish. Since its founding in 2010, RRP has led thousands to choose a retired racehorse. This, Pittman says, is what happens when NEW YORK HORSE 33

“Thoroughbreds are ... the quintessential sport horse. When they find something they like and they’re really good at, they try their hearts out.” — Heather Hall on the journey of Greeley’s Grace from Finger Lakes Racetrack to dressage prospect

Thoroughbreds are presented to America’s 2 million horse owners not as losers, but as intelligent, high-performing athletes deserving of new lives. Think of them as lost and found.


nd so, on this day, there is work to be done. A small injury to Gigi’s leg set training back a couple of weeks but it is, as Hall notes, all part of the game. Until August 1, trainer Michelle LeBarre is part of the team; as an amateur, Hall is encouraged to work with a professional, but once they have moved into the homestretch she must be the primary rider. Together, they have Gigi working in side reins, learning about moving off her inside leg, and started under saddle. “She’s learning how to carry herself on her own, how to relax her mouth into the bit,” Hall says. “She’s finding out that she has an engine behind her ... She’s starting to get it. “We don’t just want her to go. We want her to go correctly.” Hall spools her out on a long line and works from the ground on voice commands. “Good girl,” she says, as Gigi walks in a purposeful circle, ears flicked in her direction, listening. 34 NEW YORK HORSE

“And trot, trot. Good girl. What a good girl.” LaBarre, standing just outside, a touchstone, nods approval. The trot has suspension; Gigi is beginning to move with grace and understanding. “She likes to get the right answer,” LaBarre says. A smile, shared thoughts about the mare’s shoulder, her topline, impulsion. Hall stops and steps forward, breaking the arc of the circle. “Whoa.” On this sunlit afternoon, Gigi downshifts flawlessly. “Good girl, good girl. Oh my goodness, we worked so hard.” Hall reels her in, lesson paused. She was always right there, she says of Gigi’s days on the track, she was just that much not good enough. And she pats this kind and honest horse whose races are run. Together, they will turn toward home.


New York’s

CROWN JEWEL The Belmont, the Test of the Champion, celebrates its 150th running in 2018 By Brien Bouyea NEW YORK HORSE 35


merica was in a harrowing struggle to stitch itself back together — both physically and emotionally — from the carnage and scars of the Civil War, when the Belmont Stakes was run for the first time in 1867 at Jerome Park in New York City. The Preakness Stakes was still six years away from its inaugural running, and it would be another two years after that before the Kentucky Derby was established. Today, the Belmont Stakes is the ultimate test of the champion: the defining third act of the Triple Crown, and the most grueling distance of the three races at 1½ miles. It has produced over the last century-and-a-half – the 150th running is June 9 – some of the most iconic moments in the history of the sport. From the great filly Ruthless winning the first Belmont, to American Pharoah ending a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015, the Belmont’s past is as rich as any race in the world. “I would say the Kentucky Derby remains the most coveted race to win in America, and nothing


Jerome Park racetrack in the Bronx, was the first home of the Belmont Stakes. The great filly Ruthless, below, won the inaugural race.

matches it in terms of pageantry, but the Belmont is a more important race in many years because of what is potentially at stake,” said Edward L. Bowen, author of more than 20 books on racing history and chair of the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of


Fame Nominating Committee. “All eyes, even those of casual fans, focus on the Belmont when there is a possibility of a Triple Crown.” The Belmont was contested at Jerome Park from 1867 through 1889 and at nearby Morris Park from 1890 through 1904. The race was named for August Belmont, a wealthy financier and sportsman who helped fund the construction of the track. In May 1905, Belmont Park opened in Elmont, on Long Island. Other than in 1911 and 1912 – when the race was not run because of anti-gambling legislation in New York – and 1963 through 1967, when it was held at Aqueduct racetrack because of renovations, the Belmont Stakes has been a signature of Belmont Park since its opening. Although the term “Triple Crown” was not popularized until the 1930s, the early years featured some of the top thoroughbreds in the sport’s history. Even before Sir Barton won the Belmont in 1919 and became America’s first Triple Crown winner,

the race had been won by eight horses that were eventually elected to the Racing Hall of Fame: Ruthless (1867), Harry Bassett (1871), Duke of Magenta (1878), Hanover (1887), Henry of Navarre (1894), Commando (1901), Peter Pan (1907), and Colin (1908). As accomplished as he was, Sir Barton’s legacy was quickly overshadowed when the mighty Man o’ War arrived on the scene. Man o’ War did not contest the Kentucky Derby in 1920, but he won the Preakness with ease and dominated the Belmont by 20 lengths. Man o’ War was one of three future Hall of Famers to win the Belmont in the 1920s along with Grey Lag (1921) and Crusader (1926), a son of Man o’ War. The 1930s and 1940s were both golden decades for the Belmont, as 11 winners went on to the Hall of Fame, including Triple Crown winners Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1936), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943),

American Pharoah’s victory ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought NEW YORK HORSE 37

Sir Barton won the Belmont in 1919 becoming the first Triple Crown winner

Citation, now in the Racing Hall of Fame, was the winner of the 1948 Belmont

Assault (1946), and Citation (1948). Count Fleet’s 25-length margin of victory stood as a race recoard until Secretariat’s 31-length romp in 1973. Secretariat also ended a 25-year drought between Triple Crowns and, 45 years later, his time of 2:24 remains both the Belmont and American record for the distance. His powerful surge on the final turn was


preserved forever by Chic Anderson’s call. The blazing chestnut colt, Anderson said, was “moving like a tremendous machine.” “Secretariat’s Belmont ranks among the greatest athletic achievements of all time in any sport,” Bowen said. “I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have watched the race on tape, and it hasn’t lost any of its impact all these years later. It was as good a performance as you’ll ever see.” Five years later came one of the smallest margins of victory. In 1978, Affirmed and Alydar battled to the wire in each leg of the Triple Crown. With each race, Alydar drew closer. In a timeless duel, running the fastest last mile in Belmont history, Affirmed would win racing’s final jewel by a nose. For all its great moments, the Belmont has also crushed the dreams of many Triple Crown hopefuls. Twenty-three horses that won both the Derby and Preakness have failed in their attempt to win the Belmont, including such greats as Silver Charm, Sunday Silence, Alysheba, Northern Dancer, and Spectacular Bid. A record crowd of 120,139 attended the 2004 Belmont when Smarty Jones was denied the Triple Crown by Birdstone, the third straight year a Triple Crown was thwarted in the Belmont. When California Chrome lost the 2014 Belmont, with another Triple Crown on the line, many wondered if

FIVE THINGS Fastest time: 2:24, Secretariat (1973). Both are track and American records for a mileand-a-half Largest margin of victory: 31 lengths, Secretariat (1973). Relive his stunning victory at Most wins by a jockey: Six each for James McLaughlin and Eddie Arcaro. Julie Krone is the only female jockey to win the Belmont (Colonial Affair, 1993) Girl power: Three fillies have won the Belmont: Ruthless (1867), Tanya (1905), and Rags to Riches (2007) It takes two: There are two blankets of carnations worn on race day. One is worn by the winner; a smaller blanket adorns the statue of Secretariat in the paddock.

Secretariat’s 31-length victory in the 1973 Belmont “ranks among the greatest athletic achievements of all time”


the sport would ever see another horse accomplish the feat. Then came American Pharoah. Ending the 37-year streak, the son of Pioneerof the Nile became America’s 12th Triple Crown winner in a time of 2:26.65, the sixth-fastest in race history and second-fastest among Triple Crown winners. “It takes a special horse to get the distance of the Belmont, and American Pharoah was a special horse,” said his jockey Victor Espinoza, a Hall of Famer who came up short of a Triple Crown with War Emblem in 2002, when 70-1 longshot Sarava won the Belmont. “A lot of people thought it would never happen again, but we proved them wrong. Winning the Triple Crown has been the most amazing moment of my life.” Every horse that has won the Triple Crown has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and American Pharoah, who will not be eligible until 2021, awaits his chance. He was, as Espinoza said, “the one.” NEW YORK HORSE 39


Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation celebrates 35 years of saving racehorses At New York’s Walkill prison, a TRF herd is giving inmates a second chance


his year, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, the world’s largest equine sanctuary, marks its 35th anniversary. Founded in 1983, TRF is a national organization devoted to saving Thoroughbred horses that are no longer able to compete at the racetrack from possible neglect, abuse, and slaughter. The oldest Thoroughbred rescue in the

Tsuris is part of the herd at the Second Chances program at Walkill Correctional Facility

TRF Founder Monique Koehler, left, with Allaire duPont and the great racehorse Kelso at Belmont Park, October 1983

country, TRF provides sanctuary to retired Thoroughbreds throughout their lifetime and rehabilitates and retrains sound horses for second careers. TRF has saved more than 5,000 horses and it currently cares for over 700 horses at 22 farms in 12 states nationwide. Nine of those farms are part of the foundation’s pioneering Second Chances program. Located at state correctional facilities, Second Chances gives inmates an opportunity to participate in a vocational training program in equine care and stable management. The program began in New York, at the medium-security Walkill Correctional Facility. In 1984, a gelding – appropriately named Promised Road – walked off a van and became the Second Chances founding equine. Since then, Wallkill has been the home to hundreds of TRF retirees and continues to provide the dual benefit of helping horses and people. The program was the idea of TRF founder and Eclipse Award winner Monique S. Koehler, who negotiated a milestone agreement with the state Department of Correctional Services. In exchange for land use and labor at Wallkill, the foundation agreed to design, staff, and maintain the vocational training program in equine care and management for inmates. The horses help rehabilitate the men who care for them, but it is more than that. For the horses, the program is a chance at a second career. For the inmates, it is a second chance at life, learning all aspects of horse care, health, handling and stable management. “Working with the horses saved my life,” Jay Schleifer, a former Wallkill inmate who became an alcohol and substance abuse counselor, says on the TRF web page about the program. “Around them I could let my guard down. I could be myself. I could also learn from them … about love, trust and caring.” Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Illinois are also home to successful TRF Second Chances programs. To learn more about the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the Second Chances program go to


New York, Unbridled


From concrete canyons to wide open spaces, this is where east meets west

“Riding makes you feel free. Just free. It’s in your heart. Being a cowboy means being good and honest with people and being straight up.” — Arthur Fulmore, Federation of Black Cowboys, New York City NEW YORK HORSE 43

Cowboy is a ‘state of heart and mind’ Mark Munzert brings the meter of the west to the sidewalks of New York


he lights dim. Mark Munzert leads the audience in the opening bars of Amazing Grace, leans against a saddle and, in a voice that is equal parts grizzly and honey, begins the tale of an old cowboy’s funeral.

Now, as we’re at the marker and they’re lowerin’ him to ground Some commotion on behind an’ heads swivel all around. His Grandson, with a lead line, attached to Granddad’s horse Ain’t a proper burial without your best friend of course.

In 24 lines, as the closing words hang in the quiet, there isn’t a dry eye in the house. Being a cowboy, this New Yorker will tell you, “Is a state of heart and mind,” one he has shared for a decade through

poetry — or as Munzert puts it with a quick smile and a wink, “rhymsical recitin’.” “I like to tell the stories that are value-centered, more in line with the way I think cowboys should be portrayed,” he says. “It’s about the ranching culture and the integrity and respect and the love of the land and the stock … The ranching world is about helping – if you need a hand, you’ve got a friend.” It’s a world he knows well from long hours as a ranch hand, working cattle, doing what needs to be done on the trail. Inspiration is everywhere. His first poem, A Bronc’s Life, grew out of a conversation with a friend about the cushy life of a rodeo bucking horse. They work about eight seconds a week, the friend mused, and then go back to their custom stock trailer until the next stop. Not a bad choice for his next life, Mark penned when the thought became a poem:

Rough stock life? Naw, the gravy train. When I cross over and then come back Gonna be a bronco, no rider on back. “I start on a pad, or a napkin or whatever is handy,” he says. “I’ve started poems on a horse, in my truck – wherever it strikes me.” The poem he titles Ranch Rain came from the smell of an approaching storm through the trees.

Branches break. Crops sway. Sweet torrents drown sound away. Pouring puddles, carving ruts. Cow dogs, just drenched mutts. What sets Munzert’s poetry apart is its attention to cadence. Read the lines and savor how they sound in your head. Now imagine reciting the words out loud and feel their tempo move. “I count my syllables,” Munzert says. “The meter has to be right for performance poetry.” Five years ago, Munzert went to his first cowboy poetry gathering and now he is on the road more often than he is not, some 60 performances this year alone, drawing from a collection of 40 poems tucked into his memory. In 2017, he was honored as the National Cowboy Poetry Rodeo “Rising Star” champion. He is cutting his first CD and putting together his first book, a collection of about 100 poems due out this fall that will “probably” be called Cowpokes’ Corral. But it is, as he looks to the future, that Munzert seeks to honor in his writing a way of life – and looking at life – that too often seems a thing of the past. “Cowboy poetry really tells the story of western life and culture and that existence isn’t easy,” he says. “The cowboy culture isn’t just out west, it’s alive and well in the hearts and souls of people everywhere. It’s important to keep the traditions alive and strong.” 44 NEW YORK HORSE

There’s a Place There’s a place That I go in the crevasse of my mind, To ditch today’s troubles and leave the world behind. There’s a place Where I hear sleeping cattle breathing, And where I feel the sun’s rays seething. There’s a place Where I receive the voice of thunder, And gaze on high leaves me a’ wonder. There’s a place Where grasses rhythmic’ly sway, And where waiting horses neigh. There’s a place Where I’m just an elemental man, Followin’ along the good Lord’s plan. There’s a place That I go in the crevasse of my mind, To ditch today’s troubles and leave the world behind. NEW YORK HORSE 45

Equus Ocularis Beyond and further into a reflection of what mirrors. Looking in, seeking out, beyond mind to soul it sears. Connected past normal sight and sense. Communication defying methods hence. Answers to questions apparent there. Instinctual understanding to absorb and share. Truthful, emotional manifest interweave. Tangential equine language to perceive. Relating of impulse or conception, Transmission inspiring deep reflection. Mark wrote this poem for the first issue of New York Horse, published in Fall 2014


Kneaded Relief I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Horses do more for me than I do for them. It had been one of those days that left me stressed. Me and those around me were not at our best. It had been too many days of upheaval, And too many times, good lost to evil. Nothing was going right, And every try turned to fight. We needed to get out, take a break, Decompress for everyone’s sake. I cannot explain the forces, I was drawn to nearby horses. It could have gone another way, Jack Daniels or multiple beer foray. But I laid my hands on instead, Mostly low heads while they fed. Geldings, three in all. Not mine, but I knew them all. I rubbed their withers, haunches, topline and ears, Chest, neck, underbellies without fears. They were relaxed, they knew the deal. They knew how being there made me feel. A head lifts, I’d found a knot. Leg cocks, ‘Yeah, that’s the spot’. I’d lost the edge in our nonverbal exchange, Roamed from stressed to calm, at home on their range. My hands were blackened absorbing the dirt. I have no regrets about that once-white shirt. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Horses do more for me than I do for them. NEW YORK HORSE 47



The small package good things come in

Voice trained to drive. Quality conformation. Useful, friendly and affectionate. A few of our registered minis are for sale, by appointment only.

GENE & MARY SMITH Cazenovia, NY • 315-655-9748 Email: Check us out on Facebook and


Catch the action and see why reining is the ultimate communication between horse & rider! June 8-10 CNY Reining Horse Association Ride & Slide NYS Fairgrounds Coliseum, Syracuse July 21-22 CNYRHA Summer Slide & Ranch Riding Clinic Cazenovia College Equestrian Center, Cazenovia August 11-12 Summer Slidin’ By Cazenovia College Equestrian Center, Cazenovia October 19-21 CNYRHA Fall Classic CNYRHA & Northeast Breeders Trust Futurity NYS Fairgrounds Coliseum, Syracuse Central New York Reining Horse Association. Promoting the sport of Reining in the NE Online at • Follow us on Facebook


Wild Mild to

Trainers Emma and Jack Minteer showcase the versatility of the American mustang

Story by Katie Navarra P H O T O S B Y M I C H E L L E W A LT E R S NEW YORK HORSE 49

It’s all in the family for 8-year-old Riley Minteer, who makes riding mustangs look like child’s play



f ever I was to have my own mustang, I’d want one just like her. What a wonderful, level-headed and intelligent mare.” That was Naples trainer Emma Minteer’s Facebook post on December 27, 2013. She and Amazing Grace – Gracie – were just 28 days away from participating in the 2014 Mustang Magic, a prestigious, invitation-only competition held in Fort Worth, Texas. “I knew there was something special about her,” Emma recalled. “It only took me a half hour to halter her.” Three months earlier, Emma and her husband, Jack, had picked up Gracie at the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Center in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. The couple had been selected to participate in the Extreme Mustang Makeover, a competition created by the Mustang Heritage Foundation. Approved applicants are randomly paired with mustangs available for adoption. Each recipient has approximately 100 days to gain the horse’s trust and teach them ground manners and the basics under saddle. Once the competition is over, each horse is offered for sale at an auction. Even the trainers who started them have to bid on their horse if they want to take it home. At the previous year’s event, the high-selling horse went for $17,000. Emma knew there might be a chance she’d be heading home with an empty trailer. “I was so scared that I wasn’t going to get Gracie,” she said. “The people in Texas were so awesome. When they saw I was bidding on her they stopped. I got her for $500.” Emma describes the mare as her “heart horse,” who will have a forever home at the couple’s Rose Hill Ranch. Located in the Finger Lakes town of Naples, the Minteers’ ranch embodies the western lifestyle in its day-to-day operations, even though it’s 1,000 miles “east of the west.” They raise their three children to have an appreciation for horses and understand the value of an honest day’s work. Known as the “cowboy trainers,” the Minteers specialize in reined cow horse and mustang starting. Widely known for their western focus, they also work with horses and riders of all disciplines because they believe the fundamentals are the same – regardless of discipline. “Hunter/jumpers and reined cow horses both have to perform a straight line. They both have to know how to rate,” Emma said. “One may be rating its stride to the fence, the other to a cow, but the principle is the same.” For the husband and wife duo, setting a good foundation is most important. It’s a philosophy they learned at an early age and have followed throughout their careers. Both bring years of experience to the training pen. Emma’s passion for horses started as a kid.

“Hunter/jumpers and reined cow horses both have to perform a straight line. They both have to know how to rate. One may be rating its stride to the fence, the other to a cow, but the principle is the same.” -- Emma Minteer She was one of four children, but the only one who stuck with horses. The blonde cowgirl got her start in training as a teenager with a Percheron/ Thoroughbred cross. The horse belonged to a family friend who raised Belgians. When he traveled for work, Emma and her father took care of chores. She begged the horse’s owner to let her help start the horse. He kept pushing it off. When he decided to sell all his horses, Emma got a job at a dairy farm and made payments for an entire year. “I still own that horse today and use him for lessons,” she said. Jack is a second-generation horse trainer who uses the same principles as his father, Dave. For nearly 30 years, Jack was also a professional bull rider. He’s since hung up his riggin’ and today focuses on reined cow horses, a discipline that NEW YORK HORSE 51

combines reining and working cow horse skills. “For us, good training is all about setting the foundation,” he said. That’s a philosophy they’ve always stuck to, but one that became even more important working with the mustangs. When the Minteers started, they watched other trainers riding their mustangs within the first two to three days. Jack and Emma spent 30 days working on groundwork and getting the horses accustomed to handling before they would ride them. “We’re not the fastest mustang trainers in the world,” Jack said. “We used to worry about it. But then we would go to these competitions and win. It’s not a race. We take the time that it takes.” Mustangs often get a bad rap as being wild and crazy. The Extreme Mustang Makeover was started to change public perception and show how versatile they are and what they can do with the right training. So far, the couple has trained about 12 mustangs. The competition includes three phases: The first evaluates the horse’s condition and acceptance of handling. Competitors turn the horse loose in a round pen and exit. Then they have to walk through the gate and demonstrate the horse’s willingness to be haltered and handled.

“They are looking to see if the horse walks up to you or runs away,” Emma said. “You also have to lead and pick up all four feet.” For some participants showing in hand is their goal and that’s OK, because the competition’s atmosphere is extremely supportive. The multi-day event also includes a trail, mustang maneuvers, and freestyle. The trail pattern includes the traditional gate, bridge, and sidepass. Sometimes the course even includes a log or cowhide drag. The mustang maneuvers class is similar to a reining pattern, but more rudimentary, to take into account the horses only have 100 days of training. The Top 10 scorers – which has included Emma each year she has participated – are invited to the finals that include a timed 10-maneuvers-in-90seconds, and a freestyle set to music. “That’s where it gets really cool to see what a trainer has done with their horse in 100 days,” she said. In fact, Emma believes that mustangs are far easier to train than domesticated horses because they don’t have any history and no bad habits: “Once you gain that horse’s trust it’s a breeze nine times out of 10.”

AN AMERICAN HERITAGE: WILD HORSES AND BURROS Pedigree: Wild horses and burros are defined by federal law as “unbranded, unclaimed, freeroaming horses or burros found on public lands in the United States.” They are descended from domesticated stock; some are from horses brought by Spanish explorers, others were released or escaped from ranchers, cavalry troops, and Native Americans.

Protection: In 1971, Congress unanimously passed the “Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act” to provide for the management and control of wild horses and burros. The law has been amended several times and its provisions are a subject of debate in the equine community.

Population: It’s estimated, as of March 2017, that there are 72,674 wild horses and burros, an 8 percent increase over 2016. They range in color from solid brown and black to paints and palominos. Most are 13 to 15 hands high.

Interested in adopting a wild horse? There is one adoption event this year in the northeast: July 20 from 1-6 p.m. and July 21 from 8 a.m. - noon and 1- 4 p.m. at the Shale Knoll Arena, 47 Crooked Road, Annville, PA. For information phone 800293-1781 or go to Since 1971, the Bureau of Land Management has adopted out more than 240,000 wild horses and burros. In 2017, 2,905 horses and 612 burros were placed.

Home range: Wild horses can be found on public lands across 10 western states.

Arizona: 364 California: 5,088 Colorado: 1,693 Idaho: 563 Montana: 166 Nevada: 34,780 New Mexico: 168 Oregon: 4,302 Utah: 5,215 Wyoming: 7,144 52 NEW YORK HORSE

Total: 59,483

Or adopt a trained mustang: Check out the Extreme Mustang Makeover – the closest one is June 21-23 in Lexington, KY – and then attend the EMM post-competition auction for a chance to bid on a mustang with 100 days of professional training. There’s more information at Sources: Bureau of Land Management, Extreme Mustang Makeover




Fringe ‘The shirt-jeans-boot look is an American classic’

By LA Sokolowski NEW YORK HORSE 53


hen the Christian Dior Spring 2018 Couture Collection strutted down New York Fashion Week catwalks, it included a black yoked shirt that could have jumped straight from a 1960s Western catalog. With elaborate white embroidery along a piped collar and sleeves, the shirt evoked the flamboyant styles of ‘Nudie’ Cohn, outfitter to stars like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and creator of the iconic rodeo costume worn by Robert Redford in the 1979 film Electric Horseman. If haute couture is any indication, horse couture is no longer on the fringe of fashion and has moved out of the stable and on to the street. “Right now, Western is a huge trend in mainstream fashion,” said Shane Holman, Senior Director of Global Western Merchandising, Trend and Market Development for Ariat International. “We are seeing it all over runways … The trend gives a nod to the spirit of the West. Every shade of brown is trending: Distressed, pre-worn, rugged browns are hot! For men, snap shirts are great for an edgy look. For women, small prints are trending with a retro vibe.” In Ballston Spa, where the Double M Western Store has been a destination stop for boot lovers for more than half a century, Cindy Martin says brown is the most common choice: “Our goal is finding boots for the everyday person going to concerts, for


weekend attire, or for creating a look all their own.” “Our Western clothing line has changed dramatically,” Martin added, “in that traditional plaid button-down shirts for women have gone away. I sell more clothing that looks like Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren. Men’s clothing is still somewhat traditional, with snap shirts and plaids but, to look fashionable now, shirts aren’t always tucked in.” Distressed browns are also trending at Mitchell’s Western Wear in Auburn, where proprietor Kathy Mitchell said, “Boots never go out of style. Companies have gotten smarter about creating ‘distressed look’ boots with built-in comfort. And Western style has worldwide appeal: We have customers from England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, South Africa, and the Ukraine, who plan their travel itinerary around shopping here. “The shirt-jeans-boot look is an American classic. Trends come and go, but never throw out your Western stuff!” That said, Ariat’s Holman notes that jeans are getting a new twist. “There will always be customers who prefer low waists, but higher waistlines are becoming more accepted ... We’re also seeing cleaner pockets, with less embroidery, heavy stitching, or embellishments.” As makers of authentic boots for Olympic riders

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE Take Western from stable to street with these pieces (clockwise from top right): 1. Pair jeans with a bomber in seasonless sage like the Marino from Kimes Ranch. 2. Kimes’ Betty jeans, a classic slim fit with a modified boot cut, flatter every woman. 3. Patterned vests from Hobby Horse in this year’s hottest shade of violet make a fashion statement from show ring to casual wear. 4. Nail the jeans and shirt look with Ariat’s Kennedy style for men and the REAL for women. Guys ­— try the shirt untucked to be on trend. NEW YORK HORSE 55

Hot Trend: Hats in fashion colors! Pairing a lavender hat like this with matching jacket and saddle blanket pulls a show-ring look together. and world champion cowboys (plus everyday fashionistas), the Ariat trend guru said, “two favorite looks are our short bootie, called the Darlin, that goes with pants, skirts or shorts. We also love wedge boots … that combine mainstream looks with Western DNA.”

5 TIPS TO PERFECT FIT JEANS Fashion stylist Meghan Ashley says finding the perfect jeans is a global preoccupation that she’s boiled down to five easy pieces: 1. Pockets: Do they carry extra bulk? Where do they fall on your backside? Pockets create the illusion of a bigger, smaller, rounder or flatter rear – use that to your advantage! 2. Rise: If you carry weight in your girth, go for a lower rise. If you’re a pear or hourglass shape, accent a tiny waist with a high- or medium-rise. If you’re a straight frame (lucky you) any rise will flatter but if you’re short, go high-rise and if you’re tall, stick to a mid-rise. 3. Denim: Today’s denim has more stretch but can get baggy in some places and too tight in others! If you’re a pear or hourglass, stretch is to your advantage (check the tag for a small percentage of elastane or lycra.) Invest in higher quality brands with “stretch memory” so they won’t sag with wear and keep their great cut and structure for your frame. IMPORTANT: Buy stretch jeans in your size. Don’t size down because you can get it buttoned; it only makes you look bigger and your legs look squeezed like sausages. 4. Cut: Do you have larger thighs and are above 5’6”? Choose wide leg, flare jeans in a dark wash. If you’re under 5’4”, choose a skinny or cigarette style. Consider your go-to shoes when buying your cut and make sure they pair well together. 5. Style: Does the style not only ‘go’ with your wardrobe but also move you forward to where you want to be with your closet?


Holman, who personally favors a “denim chambray shirt with skinny denims and a bootie,” offers this stylish ensemble advice: For men, a wrinkle-free, woven shirt and slim-fit jeans. For women, a snap shirt and skinny jeans. Boots with both, natch. “Both of these looks,” she said, “will take you from stable to street.” If you like waistlines trending upwards, you’ll love the word from Lindsay Perraton, Director of Marketing at crossover jeans maker, Kimes Ranch Western wear. In addition to exploring more washes for its skinny styles, she says, Kimes has launched new trouser jeans. “The response,” Perraton said, “has been overwhelming. Customer feedback guides what we create, and this jeans was requested so much that we could not ignore what customers wanted. The trouser is … cute, versatile, and in a classic dark wash that you can dress up or down.” She added: “Higher waist jeans have been trending in traditional fashion and Western fashion is catching up. We see younger women (ages 15-30) adopting this more forward look.” Tops in popularity is Kimes’ Betty jeans, a midrise, classic slim fit with a modified boot cut that can be worn over boots or tucked in to mimic a pair of skinnies. Its versatility and flattering cut, Perraton said, “make it a ‘must’ among women of all ages and riding disciplines.” Third among Kimes’ top-sellers is a skinny style that plays well with tall boots for a fashionable street look or offers pragmatic protection against brush during ranch work. Perraton pairs her skinny

jeans with a T-shirt and bomber jacket: “I can rock that with tall-top cowboy boots and Western jewelry to appeal to my ‘horse side’ or throw on heels with a classic purse and look ready to go out on the town.” For the gents, she suggests classic straight-cut jeans that deliver a clean silhouette with cowboy boots or look great cuffed over sneakers or Red Wings. Add a herringbone pattern flannel shirt “tucked in for a cowboy look or untucked for heading into town,” and a puffer vest for a versatile stable or street look. On a budget? Cazenovia College Head Western Coach Adam D’Agostino offers dollar-conscious advice: Invest in neutral colors for your own closet and rent the more lavish show-ring fashion statements. “For bigger shows, we do a lot of rentals for fancier stuff like Berry Fit or Hobby Horse,” D’Agostino said. “If you go online, it’s easy to find smaller shops or individuals willing to rent show clothing.” For the show ring, shirts in neutrals like black, grey or dark silver not only complement most physiques but also more horse coat colors or patterns. “Symmetry is the thing. Stay conservative,” he says. More important than color is shape. “We’re keeping the Dynasty look alive,” D’Agostino joked, referring to the 1980s TV series. “A button shirt with strong shoulder pads gives a ‘fuller’ look.” But you don’t need to ride in front of a judge to

adopt a more body-conscious style. D’Agostino sees younger horsemen starting to “care more about what they put on their backs” through tighter shirts, snugger chaps, and statement jewelry for necks and wrists. Hobby Horse Clothing Company CEO, Kristin Titov, sees Western style also making a snug statement through leggings: “We’ve seen patterned leggings in street style for a couple of years now. Southwestern patterns, like feathers and cactus, are particularly on trend.” In a street to stable reversal, louder looks are “making their way to the show pen in the form of ultra-comfortable patterned shirts.” Where all these Western fashion experts agree is this: Fringe will always be in. But rhinestone ‘bling’ and overly embroidered back pockets? Not so much. “Those who rode in embellished jeans are tired of their saddles taking the brunt of their fashion choices,” one expert said. Both have become trends that are taking a back seat to a cleaner, more classic look. “The theme of the Dior Sauvage 2018 Collection reflects one of the most popular trends in fashion,” reported “Western fashion seems to be a theme that all designers are clawing to pin together. While many loved HBO’s ‘West World’ and the ‘Gunslinger’ adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, some think it’s due to the reemergence of the Wild West in general. Even Dior knows Western style is ‘in.’” Horse lovers couldn’t agree more.


Details, from boots to belts to buckles, stamp every look with personality NEW YORK HORSE 57

Against All Odds Despite New York’s distance from Texas and Oklahoma, the epicenter of cutting horse events, Pittsford’s Joel Cohen is among the sport’s top competitors B Y K AT I E N A V A R R A


hay elevator-like metal track hangs from the rafters of an 80’ x 180’ indoor arena. A black plastic cow dangles beneath. With the push of a button, the cow springs to life. A remote control tells it how far to run down the wall and when to turn. The setup mimics the movements of a lone calf trying to outsmart a working cow horse with hopes of dashing back to the safety of a nearby herd. Just behind the track, a taut clothesline on a pulley runs parallel on the same wall. A flag dangles from the line. It, too, is electronically controlled and is designed to simulate a cow’s attempts to rejoin its herd mates. When real live cattle are needed, a herd of 20 to 30 cows are ushered into the arena.



Joel Cohen shows off his Hall of Fame technique in the show pen


his scene would be commonplace in Texas and Oklahoma, the epicenter of the cutting horse world, but it’s a one-of-akind set up in New York, where Silver Creek Farm skirts Mendon Ponds Park, a horse lover’s haven in Monroe County. The park boasts 2,500 acres of woodlands and ponds, 30 miles of trails open to horseback riders, and two landmark neighbors. On one side is the farm that, for 46 years, was home to the Walnut Hill Driving Competition, once the largest pleasure driving show in the nation. On the other side of the park is Silver Creek, home to National Cutting Horse Association Hall of Famer Joel Cohen. An accomplished horseman in three disciplines—roping, reining, and cutting — Cohen claims he doesn’t have talent. Instead he attributes his success to good horses, perseverance, and an understanding of how to win. “Some people aren’t lucky enough to 60 NEW YORK HORSE

have one good horse in a lifetime,” he said. “I’ve had two really great ones and many good ones. They’ve made me look good.”

A winning history


ong before Cohen achieved NCHA Hall of Fame status in 2017, he’d already found success in the show pen, first as a calf and team roper, then as a reining horse competitor. His first great horse was Silver Creek Jak, a 1966 Quarter Horse gelding. The duo earned multiple championships and All-American Quarter Horse Congress championships. Then a roping accident left him disenchanted with the sport. He quit roping and joined the National Reining Horse Association. Cohen was one of the association’s early members; when he joined, he was assigned membership No. 23. Reining brought more success, and he celebrated NRHA Futurity and Derby wins as well as All-American Quarter Horse Congress

Top 10 finishes. Then, at the height of his career in reining, he pivoted again, quit, and took up cutting. In 1985, he found his second great horse, Genuine Peppy San, a double-registered Quarter Horse/Paint. Cohen credits the gelding with putting him on the map. Earning a spot inside the NCHA Top 10 national standings meant thousands of miles on the road. There were times he’d spend two to three days traveling and leave without a check. “When you have to get in the truck and drive 800 miles home, knowing that you didn’t draw a check and your next competition could be a month or more later, that’s where you find out how tough you are,” he says. Rebounding from the disappointment is key and it starts with getting back in the practice pen. That and good horses and persistence are what has kept Cohen at the top of the sport. “People think what they want from

their horse is obedience,” he says. “Wrong. If you want to dance with the big dogs you have to demand excellence. If your horse makes a mistake you have to stop and fix it right then.” In late 2015, a representative from NCHA headquarters called to tell Cohen he had accumulated enough lifetime earnings to be within striking distance of qualifying for the Hall of Fame. Chasing the Hall was not originally a goal, but when NCHA made him aware of it, he seized the opportunity. He bought a new horse — Great Chief — and they took to the road, hitting all the big events in Tennessee, Mississippi and Texas among others. He officially won enough earnings in November 2016. “I had the good fortune that when I got really serious about trying to win I was around some really, really good guys,” Cohen said. “They are the best in the business and they are friends of mine. I’ve learned so much from them. Nobody gets good in this business without help.” After his induction into the Hall of Fame he hinted at retirement, but wife Judy knew he wasn’t ready to hang up his (cowboy) hat. “I said ‘No, you’re not,’” she

remembers. “I told him to go get himself another horse because I couldn’t imagine having him hang around the house all the time.” And so, he did. Cohen is a natural horse trader who enjoys the process of buying and selling. He sold Great Chief, and since then he’s had a few horses come and go. Now there’s a new prospect in the barn, ready to set hoof in show pen. “People say that it takes a lifetime

MOO 101 Interested in learning more, competing, or taking in a show? The New York Reined Cow Horse Association – online at – has a full calendar of events to check out, and the NCHA has one show planned. May 12-13: Darren Bilyea Reined Cow Horse Clinic, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at Diamond R Ranch, 1512 Kent Road, Kent; Darren is an NRCHA judge from Staffa, Ontario. He has won NRCHA National Titles as well as coaching his students to regional and national titles. Auditors are free. May 26-27: NYRCHA Silver Spur Classic at Cazenovia College Equestrian Center, Woodfield Road, Cazenovia. National Reined Cow Horse Association sanctioned event. Green/Youth riders coached for free. Herd Work (cutting where you can rein them); Bridle classes for all levels; and a Ranch Horse Division. Walk/Trot Track and Box class for little cowpokes. For more information contact June 30-July 1: NYRCHA Cowboy Classic at Cazenovia College Equestrian Center, Woodfield Road, Cazenovia. National Reined Cow Horse Association sanctioned event. Green/Youth riders coached for free. For more information contact June 30-July 1: National Cow Horse Association Championship $500-added show at the Alfred University Equestrian Center, 5174 Lake Road, Alfred Station. Opportunities for seasoned competitors and first-timers alike to have a chance to compete. August 4-5: NYRCHA Cowgirl Classic at Cazenovia College Equestrian Center, Woodfield Road, Cazenovia. National Reined Cow Horse Association sanctioned event. Green/Youth riders coached for free. For more information contact

to make a great horseman,” he says. “It actually takes two, and even that’s not quite enough,”

Paying it forward


gainst all odds, this cowboy from the East has proven to all the big boys of the West that with grit and perseverance it is possible to be a top national contender. He continues to haul out of state to sanctioned NCHA shows, but he’s equally committed to encouraging fellow New York cow horse enthusiasts to get involved with the sport. He’s teamed up with Rubbin Nickels Cutters and Cow Horse Club. Together with club President Eric Wilson they are organizing clinics and planning the first NCHA Championship $500-added cutting show to be hosted in New York in several decades. Scheduled for June 30-July 1 at the Alfred University Equestrian Center, seasoned competitors and first-timers alike will have a chance to compete. Cohen has traveled all over the country and supported different shows during his four-decade cutting career. His fellow competitors are eager to support the show he’s helping coordinate this summer. Several trainers have promised to bring multiple horses each from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and even Canada to compete. “I’m kinda excited that I’ll only have to drive an hour and 15 minutes,” he said. “When we get there, my truck might turn around and look at me and wonder why we’ve stopped so soon.” NEW YORK HORSE 61



Go Off the Beaten Path and ride the Adirondacks in this special Happy Trails edition


orever Wild: With those two words, as clear-cutting threatened the wild heart of New York, the state constitution created and protected the Adirondack forest preserve. So it is, since 1894, that more than 2 million acres of public land – almost all of the wilderness and old growth forest remaining in the Northeast – have been preserved as a place of pure water and tea-dark mountains. Through these wild forest lands, the state has carved trails where a rider on horseback can be part of a thread of time that is not measured in hours and work days. “Going to the mountains is going home,” the great naturalist John Muir wrote. “Wildness is a necessity … mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” The mountains are eternal, but summer days are a moment’s gift. Get out there and ride. NEW YORK HORSE 63


Debar Mountain Wild Forest

Meandering streams and pine canopies beckon riders to the top of the Great North Woods


t the northernmost point of the Adirondack Park, the farthest reaches of old-growth trees and wilderness waters are bound together into the Debar Mountain Wild Forest. A pair of mountains over 3,000 feet – Debar and Loon Lake – are the landscape’s exclamation points to a terrain mainly marked by low hills and flat river valleys. The north branch of the Saranac River, and meandering streams and brooks, lay corridors of moving water through the broad canopies of forest. Debar’s equestrian trails are the wilderness equivalent of a drive-up window. The staging point for riders is the Hays Brook Trail System parking area, just off State Route 30 on Mountain Pond Road, at the edge of the public lands in Franklin County. Entry to the Adirondack wilderness doesn’t get much more convenient. There are 10.4 miles of designated trails open to horse and rider. All are accessed from the parking area/trailhead, where a hitching post is located. The Hays Brook Trail, a former roadway built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, is the main trunk for the network extending nearly 3 miles from the parking area into canopies of pine and broadleaf forest. Three trails branch off, offering several options to vary the ride. Two – Sheep Meadow and Grass Pond – have lean-tos near trail’s end, offering riders the chance to dismount, relax, and enjoy the scenery from a different perspective. Each trail has a bit of rock and roll along the way, but no ascents steeper than 100 feet. Also opening from the parking area are three horse trails that follow seasonal-access town roads: 1.5-mile 64 NEW YORK HORSE

Mountain Pond Road, 2.5-mile Slush Pond Road – the very definition of a descriptive but disheartening name – and 3.2-mile Kettle Trail. Remnants of Adirondack evolution are all around, from historic fire towers to trails built on former railroad beds to Sheep Meadow’s reminder of a farming past. Take time to add your hoofprints to history. Field notes: Many of the ponds and lakes are stocked with brook and brown trout, so consider trying to catch dinner and leave the sandwiches for another day. Serious angler? Northern pike and smallmouth bass are the big fish in Meachem Lake, north of the horse trails on Route 30. While you’re in the neighborhood:

For a little non-equine recreation, the Delaware & Hudson Rail Trail is a level, 4-mile path built on an old rail bed that passes over or beside wetlands, brooks, and ponds. It’s popular with birders, casual bikers, dog walkers and anyone looking for an easy hike in the woods. Keep an eye out for: The Loon Lake Mountain Fire Tower, built in 1928, was used for fire spotting until 1970. This is the second steel fire tower built here. Remains of the original, which was built in 1917 and blown over in a storm

during the winter of 1927-28, lie next to the hiking trail to the summit. Feeling ambitious? The 2.8-mile Loon Lake Mountain trail climbs 1,600 feet to the summit and the fire tower. Worth a side trip: The Six Nations Indian Museum in the hamlet of Onchiota, open only in July and August, has more than 3,000 artifacts including arrowheads, birch bark canoes, and beadwork. One of the prizes is an ancient dugout canoe discovered by divers in Lake Placid. Fees: Use of the trails and all facilities is free. The download: Find a printable map at Required papers: Proof of current negative Coggins certificate is required for all horses; out-of-state horse owners are required to produce a 30-day health certificate. Open for recreation: Debar Wild Forest is open year-round but remember: This is New York’s North Country, so take the word “open” with a big grain of road salt. Be prepared: Carry a cell phone on you. That way if you part company with your horse – beware of equine-eating fire towers – you have the phone.


Moose River Plains Six trails lead into a scenic patchwork of river valleys, low mountains and remote ponds


prawling across two counties, seven towns, and nearly 80,000 acres, all roads lead to roam in the Moose River Plains. A handspan outside the core of unbroken forest that defines the Adirondack Preserve, these lands are a transitional zone between the High Peaks country to the east and north, and the foothills to the west and south. This is an accessible wilderness, opening wooded vistas of low‐lying river valleys, hills, and low mountains, to horse and rider. Stitched together from public holdings in Herkimer and Hamilton counties – the 64,322-acre Moose River Plains Wild Forest, the 2,907-acre Moose River Plains Camping Corridor, and the 12,258-acre Little Moose Wilderness – these lands also have options for out-ofthe-saddle pursuits including more than 65 ponds and lakes teeming with bass, trout, perch, and landlocked salmon. Six marked horse trails totaling nearly 35 miles call to riders of all levels:

miles through the Moose River Plains and serves as the main access to its lands and waters. In winter, while the equines are hibernating, this road becomes a snowmobile route – so consider trying out a different form of horsepower. Field notes: Native species abound. Calling the Moose Plains home are whitetailed deer, black bear, beaver, bobcat, coyote, fisher, and otter – but so far, no moose. Sections of the South Branch Moose River, Otter Brook, Red River, and Cedar River are state-designated scenic rivers. High points: No Alpine summits here, but there are a couple of peaks that top 3,500 feet – Little Moose Mountain and Manbury Mountain, both in the Little Moose Wilderness. Hikers who scramble to the summit of Wakely Mountain – the last half-mile is notably steep – are rewarded with the discovery of an old fire tower. Hoofing it: Some 130 miles of marked hiking trails make the Moose River Plains a destination to explore while the horses are enjoying a well-deserved hay net. For the ambitious: The short but steep Rocky Mountain trail climbs from a trailhead along State Route 28 to a view of the Fulton Chain of lakes. For the not so

much: Cathedral Pines Trail is a 0.1-mile loop on the north side of State Route 28 through a stand of old-growth white pines. Worth a side trip: Check out the “Adirondack Experience: The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake.” Yes, this was formerly the Adirondack Museum. And yes, in addition to old draws – rustic furniture, Noah John Rondeau’s Cold River hermitage – there is a new “Life in the Adirondacks” exhibition combining digital technology with hands-on experiences and artifacts. Parking: There are no parking areas designated for horse trailers, however many areas can accommodate them. Fees: The use of the trails and all facilities is free. The download: Find a printable map at Required papers: Proof of current negative Coggins certificate is required for all horses; out-of-state horse owners are required to produce a 30-day health certificate. Open for recreation: The complex is open year-round but remember: You can lead a horse to frozen water, but you can’t make him ice skate. Be prepared: Carry a cell phone on you. That way if you part company with your horse – beware of equine-eating blackflies – you have the phone.

• Seventh Lake Mountain Trail, the longest at 13.1 miles • Lost Ponds Trail, 2.0 miles • Mitchell Ponds Trail, 1.8 miles • Beaver Lake Trail, 2.3 miles • Sly Pond Loop Trail, 5.4 miles • Otter Brook Trail, 10.1 miles between Otter Brook Road and Wakely Dam

Riding is prohibited in the Limekiln Lake Campground and other trails specifically marked for foot travel only. However, riders are welcome to use all snowmobile trails and roads open to motor vehicles when they are not covered with ice or snow. That includes the Limekiln LakeCedar River Road, which extends 23 NEW YORK HORSE 65




Ramble through woodlands and waterways on the ‘champagne of trails’


t the western edge of the Adirondacks, where wild forest meets the foothills that will ascend into high peaks, Otter Creek beckons. The interlocking trail system connects a series of old, sandy roads and wooded paths to ramble across more than 65 miles of woodland and waterway. Traversing both the Independence River Wild Forest and the Independence River and Otter Creek state forests in Lewis County, the trails open the western edge of the Adirondack Park to horse and rider. Winding along spirea flats, through old stands of timber to hidden backcountry ponds and tumbling waterfalls, Otter Creek is considered the ‘champagne of trails.’ Take a short half-hour jaunt, a challenging full-day ride, or try an outing with a refreshing twist: After passing through a replanted pine forest, Frost Pocket Trail ends at pristine Payne Lake, a perfect swimming hole for both horse and human. (Make sure to grab a handful of wild low-bush blueberries on the way.) Field notes: People may be scarce in this neck of the woods, but watchful equestrians are likely to spot deer, bear, coyote, fox, grouse, wild turkey, snowshoe hare, and a wide variety of birds. While you’re in the neighborhood: This is lake country, so pack a pole and a state permit and ask the fishing gods to offer up a brook trout, bullhead or pumpkinseed. Lucky anglers can also find brown trout in Little Otter Lake and Otter Creek. Not for the faint of heart: Ready for a challenge? Try the rugged and rocky Casslerville Trail, which traverses a glacial moraine, through a deep open valley, to a ridge with steep drop offs about 10 feet on either side. The trail will test rider skill and the conditioning of your horse, so be forewarned. Horse accommodations: There are 100 roofed tie stalls and two stallion stalls at the trailhead assembly area in the Independence River State Forest, available first-come, firstserved. Water is provided for horses starting in mid-May and is shut off in October after Columbus Day weekend. Human accommodations: Otter Creek has three parking areas and primitive camping at the trailhead. There is a pavilion, picnic tables, and a bathroom with sink and toilets but no showers. There is no electricity. For something less, shall we say, rustic, check out for a list of places to stay. 66 NEW YORK HORSE

Accessibility: Mounting platforms are available at the trailhead and at three scenic overlooks to allow users to dismount and enjoy the view. There are accessible bathroom facilities at the assembly area. Special notes: Riders are asked to sign in at the trailhead register in the event of a search and rescue, and for funding purposes. Private in-holders often object to horses on their roads, so stay on marked trails. Worth a side trip: Outside Lowville – in possibly one of the last places you’d expect to find a winery – a former cornfield has been planted with French-American grapes. Tug Hill Vineyard has 19 wines, including the appropriately named White Out and Black Ice Late Harvest, available for tasting in a hand-hewn timber building. Fees: Use of the trails and all facilities is free. The download: Find printable maps of the trails and assembly area at Required papers: Horse owners may be required to produce a current negative Coggins certificate. Open for recreation: Year-round, but if you’re a New Yorker we don’t need to remind you that Lewis County is a synonym for snow. Be prepared: Carry a cell phone on you. That way if you part company with your horse – beware of equine-eating spirea – you have the phone.


Camp Santanoni On Newcomb Lake, ride an old carriage road into the golden age of the Adirondacks


one are the guardrails of handpeeled logs that once kept the forest at bay along the main road to Camp Santanoni. But the path leads as surely as ever into a golden past, when a fortune could force the Adirondack wilderness to bend to its will. This was once the private preserve of a wealthy and powerful couple, Robert Pruyn and his wife, Anna. Born into an old Dutch family and a fortune built on lumber and paper, Pruyn turned his talents to finance, rising to become president of what is today Key Bank. By the late 1880s, their providence assured, the Pruyns began planning a country estate fitting their status as Albany elite. They turned to the Adirondacks and, in Newcomb – then the heart of the wilderness – they created a Great Camp that, at its height, sprawled across 13,000 acres. Santanoni was a rustic but elegant retreat from city life and the Pruyns encouraged early rising and outdoor pursuits for guests that included future President Theodore Roosevelt. Today, riders can travel in their footsteps, approaching the historic core along the Newcomb Lake Road Trail. The old gravel carriage road extends five miles from the trailhead at the gate lodge, through wild forest and the High Peaks Wilderness in Essex County, to the dark waters of Newcomb Lake. Seven-tenths of a mile from the fieldstone gate, the trail passes through the farm complex, with its stone dairy and the ruins of a horse barn lost in a tragic fire. It ascends 350 feet in 3.0 miles, and then descends 250 feet to the main house, a 15,000-square foot lodge built of material cut and quarried from the mountains.

It’s a ramble more than a century in the making; a chance to remember why this family and those long-ago days were part of a Gilded Age that transformed the Adirondacks. Field notes: Santanoni is one of the oldest and largest of the early great camps. Although less than half of the original structures remain, and gardens and orchards are returning to woodland, it is one of the few surviving great camps to retain the core of its original design. While you’re in the neighborhood: The Moose Pond Horse Trail branches northwest from the Newcomb Lake Road Trail and enters the High Peaks Wilderness approximately 2.5 miles from the trailhead. The 24-mile roundtrip trail follows good roads for most of its distance, according to visitadirondacks. com, and provides access to campsites on Moose Pond. And just a short jog away: Nearby, nearly 22 miles of administrative roads in the 19,600-acre Essex Chain Lakes Complex are open for horseback riding. The trails open more of the low-lying hills of the central Adirondacks to exploration and take riders deep into this water-rich area. Keep an eye out here

for the occasional moose, back in the Adirondacks after having been absent since the 1860s. Accessibility: Mounting platforms are available at the gate lodge and the main house complex. Fees: Use of the trails and all facilities is free. The download: Find a printable map at Required papers: Proof of current negative Coggins certificate is required for all horses; out-of-state horse owners are required to produce a 30day health certificate. Open for recreation: Santanoni is open year-round, but this is the Adirondacks, and unless your horse can cross-country ski, remember: It can start snowing in September and continue through Mother’s Day. Worth a side trip: The Adirondack Interpretive Center on the shore of Rich Lake, is part of the SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry campus in Newcomb. Explore their trails – open daily from dawn to dusk – take in a program about the cultural and natural history of the Northern Forest, or just relax in the lobby and enjoy the birds at their feeders. Be prepared: Carry a cell phone on you. That way if you part company with your horse – beware of equine-eating past presidents – you have the phone. NEW YORK HORSE 67


Frontier Town Equestrian Campground and Day-Use Area An ambitious plan transforms the abandoned theme park into a hub for horse lovers


rive up I-87, exit at North Hudson and keep going until you reach a place where, once upon a time, a kid could drape themselves in fringe, pin on a toy sheriff’s badge, and spend a day where the deer and the antelope play. Frontier Town was a theme park for pint-sized cowpokes. For more than four decades, from 1952 until 1998, the park’s trick riders, bucking broncos and Indian Village scratched a wild west itch. Where else – certainly not in Syracuse, Rochester or Buffalo – could a junior buckaroo capture a stagecoach bandit or pick up a few supplies at the Western Outfitters? The crowds were steady for years but, by the 1980s, Frontier Town was struggling. The park was abandoned, seized by Essex County for unpaid taxes, and the woods overgrew what few buildings were left. But all that is changing. Ground was broken in April for an ambitious project that will create a Gateway to the Adirondacks, including

equestrian camping, expanded horse trails, and a dayuse area on the site of the old theme park. The equestrian campground, with 33 equine-friendly campsites and horse trails linking to other public lands, will open by Summer 2019. The trailside day-use area will open this fall. In the meantime, we will be polishing our tin star and deciding if we can still pull off that pink cowgirl hat. Field notes: The Frontier Town complex, which will preserve any viable buildings from the old theme park, will sit on approximately 91 acres owned by the town of North Hudson and Essex County. It is designed to be in harmony with the natural features of the landscape. Happy trails: Think of this as a launching off point. Frontier Town trails will link to the existing trail network along NYS Route 9 and connect with the Hammond Pond Wild Forest to the east; Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest on the west; and Palmer Pond Bridge, which leads to public lands including horse trails on the Boreas Ponds Tract and Essex Chain Lakes Complex.

Happy camper: The equestrian camping area will have electrical hookups, hibachi-style grills, and water spigots within 250 feet of each campsite. Says DEC: Thirteen horse tie stalls located next to the camping pads, each having a capacity of up to five horses – plus one stud stall – will provide space for up to 66 horses. This area also includes one shower building and a pavilion with electrical outlets and interior lighting Happy hour: Every Old West frontier town worth its salt had a saloon — or at least they did on TV — and the reimagined Frontier Town will have one, too. Paradox Brewery will move from its current location in Schroon Lake and build more brewing space and a larger tasting room. Accessibility: Two horse mounting ramps will be available. While you’re in the neighborhood:

It’s true! North Hudson is the home where the buffalo roam. The Adirondack Buffalo Company and its herd of bison is a few miles away on Blue Ridge Road. The download: Keep up with plans for the site at outdoor/112046.html Required papers: Proof of current

negative Coggins certificate is required for all horses; out-of-state horse owners are required to produce a 30-day health certificate. Open for recreation: Frontier Town trails will be open year-round. If it’s too cold to ride, you can always have a beer and reminisce. Be prepared: Carry a cell phone on you. That way if you part company with your horse – beware the ghosts of equine-eating stagecoach bandits – you have the phone. 68 NEW YORK HORSE

THE GUIDE: THE ENDLESS SUMMER Adirondack sentinel: Mount Marcy, New York’s highest peak

Short Carries … Boreas Ponds Tract

This deep woods parcel in Essex County was purchased by the state in 2016, the largest Forest Preserve addition in the history of the Adirondack Park. After a two-year review, the Adirondack Park Agency this spring classified 11,412 acres of the Boreas Ponds tract as wilderness, protecting a pristine area in the heart of the Adirondack Park. Its 21,000 acres offer spectacular views of the High Peaks, including Mount Marcy, the state’s highest mountain. Currently, 25 miles of roads are open to riders and horse-drawn wagons; motor vehicles and ATVs are allowed on some routes.

Cold River Horse Trail System Tucked between the high peaks of the Seward and Santanoni

ranges in southern Franklin County, the Cold River Horse Trails pass through one of the most remote wilderness areas in the state. The New York State Horse Council’s guide warns that these trails require advanced skills from both horse and rider. “Know your limitations and stay within them,” the Council says, cautioning riders to “plan your trip so that you will arrive at your destination before dark.”

Fulton Chain Wild Forest The 16,028-acre Fulton Chain Wild Forest is located along its namesake, the Fulton Chain of Lakes, in the western Adirondacks. Its location near the destination communities of Old Forge, Eagle Bay, and Inlet make it a popular stopping point. Not as remote as other areas of the Adirondacks, the 2.5-mile-long Moss Lake Circuit is its only horse trail.

Luzerne Campground and Day-Use Area Horses are more than welcome at this popular campground along Fourth Lake, in the Lake George region. (The official NEW YORK HORSE 69

THE GUIDE: THE ENDLESS SUMMER address is 892 Lake Avenue, Lake Luzerne.) There’s a special camping area for equestrians in a grove of pines, with 22 paddocks, two covered standing stalls and picnic tables. There are about five miles of marked trails on state land connected to about 60 miles of private trails. Fees are $22 a night – add on $5 if you’re not a New Yorker. Note: Only campers with horses are allowed in the equine area on holiday weekends.

Pharaoh Lake Wilderness The hallmark of the 46,283-acre Pharaoh Lake Wilderness is its lakes and ponds. The namesake Pharaoh Lake is one of the largest waters in the Adirondacks completely surrounded by public lands. There are two designated horse trails: Sucker Brook Trail (7.5 miles) and Pharaoh Lake Trail (3.3 miles). The trails can be combined for a 10.8-mile, one-way ride; horses must ford Pharaoh Lake Brook to reach the other trail.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness The 50,100 acres of the Pigeon Lake Wilderness lie between four of the larger bodies of water in the Adirondacks: Big Moose Lake, Stillwater Reservoir, Raquette Lake and the Fulton Chain of Lakes. The 6-mile-long Cascade Lake Trail, the only designated horse trail, leads to a waterfall on Inlet Stream.

St. Regis Canoe Area The 18,400-acre St. Regis Canoe Area in Franklin County is famed for its remote lakes and wilderness setting but here’s a secret worth sharing: Horses can be ridden on two truck trails, the 4.7-mile Fish Pond trail and its St. Regis Pond spur. There are no facilities or improvements for horses and, due to limited access, the DEC requires riders to contact their Ray Brook office (518-897-1291) in advance.

Taylor Pond Complex On the northeastern border of the park, the Taylor Pond Complex is a patchwork of easements and public land spread over 567 square miles of forested lands, and low-lying hills and mountains. There are no designated trails, but horses are allowed on seasonal access roads that are also open to motor vehicles.

Whippoorwill Corners State Forest So far north that the Adirondacks are referred to as the Great South Woods, lies Whippoorwill Corners State Forest. This small upland parcel hides a beautiful outing: The Brookview trail provides access to more than a mile of Plumb Brook, which flows through the center of the forest, twisting and dropping into waterfalls, and pools stocked by the state with brown trout.




PARTING SHOT “We consider ourselves the Olympic champions of gender equality, but equestrian is in fact gender neutral because there is no gender division in our sport. Female and male equestrian athletes compete on the same stage for the same medals, from grassroots to the elite level, and while this is totally normal for everyone in our sport, it is obviously totally unique to everyone looking in on equestrian. “Sport is one of the most powerful platforms for promoting gender equality and empowering female athletes … Sport also has the ability to transform lives and communities, because equal access and opportunity is a fundamental right.” — Ingmar De Vos, president Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), equestrian sport’s global governing body


Profile for New York Horse

New York Horse: Show Season 2018  

Stories, Advice, Horseplay

New York Horse: Show Season 2018  

Stories, Advice, Horseplay