NORTH AMERICA’S HORSE SHOW MAGAZINE • PUBLISHED SINCE 2003 • FEBURARY 2021
The Stallion Issue
CLONING RICO SUAVE
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The Stallion Issue 24
Strider: A More Technical Equestrian Community
Piper Klemm, Ph.D.
By Catie Staczak
Horse BnB: Putting Equestrian Accommodations on the Map By Catie Staczak
I AM A BLACK EQUESTRIAN
5 STRIDES WITH
Pony Perfection: Cloning Rico Suave SELECT CHAMPIONS
20 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
Patricia Griffith, Lainie Wimberly, Karli Postel, Lyman T. Whitehead Confu As told to his rider Laura Kraut
By Kristin Pitzer
Use Your Life Skills to Be a Better Rider
Show Ring Superstitions
Vanessa Mazzoli: We check in with the National Horse Show Champion
By Tonya Johnston, MA
THE PLAID HORSE COMMUNITY
Kendall Meijer, Stephanie Danhakl, and more!
ASK THE VET
Behaving for the Vet By Dr. Heather Beach, DVM
Karen Lucian: Reaching New Heights By Christopher Cervantes
ON THE COVER
Viagen Clone of Ponies & Palm Show Stables’ Rico Suave. PHOTO BY
PIPER AT FOX RUST IN CANTON, NEW YORK
February 2021 THE PLAID HORSE
Discover Your Purpose St. Andrews UNIVERSITY A Branch of Webber International University
Intercollegiate Teams Hunter Seat Equitation Dressage Western Horsemanship Reining
Programs Include... Equine Business Management
Hunter and Jumper Show Team
Equine Science Pre-Veterinary Therapeutic Horsemanship Therapeutic Horsemanship Business Management 1700 Dogwood Mile
Laurinburg, NC 28352
WHEN I MET GEOFF TEALL for the first time, I was not a fan. He was uncompromising, rigid, and— let’s face it—the interaction felt downright mean. The second and third time went about the same. It was not kismet. Not to speak for Geoff, but I don’t think either of us walked away feeling that we might work together in the future. I came out of a tough Ph.D. program at University of California, Berkeley, feeling emotionally beat up. I was held to an uncompromising standard, 7 days a week, year after year, and I put in everything I had and took everything personally. I walked away wondering what
GEOFF TEALL ON RIDING HUNTERS, JUMPERS, AND EQUITATION
24 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
PHOTO: ADAM HILL
it was for, and what it had all been about. If we were just nice to each other, couldn’t we get a lot further? I would be just as competitive if people were nice to me. I wanted this, didn’t I? I promised myself that I would never treat anyone else that way. I would be nice all the time. Support people when they need it. I would
be the antithesis of how I was treated. Grow people with positivity and love and strength at all times. It wasn’t until years later that I realized graduate school is when I became good. When I went from yeah, she studies, she thinks creatively, to yeah, she can do it. That being “nice” would have worked to a point, but if I wasn’t held to an
“There is no instant gratification in the standard. There is often a lot of crying in pursuit of the standard. That is okay.” uncompromising standard, I would be struggling right now to find that standard on my own in myself and my work. As I have the opportunity
to lead so many young people, I often find myself discussing pedagogy with the most unlikely sources. How do we execute an uncompromising standard without being “mean?” Are standards inherently hurtful? How do we make goodness interesting? Can anything excellent come without pain? I recently got to spend the day with a barn that is “old school.” Uncompromising. Five years ago, I would have walked away with eyes wide, wondering, How could they say these things? What is wrong with them? How could this happen in today’s world? This time, I walked away thinking, Wow. They hold everyone to a standard that is incredible and spend every second teaching young people to be better. Is it pleasant being held to a standard? Well, no. How do we hold people to the highest standard? Will people inherently react negatively when you institute standards, no matter how polite you are about it? I can push myself, but teaching and mentoring is about inspiring and coaxing the best out of others. How do we push others for achievement?
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Reflecting on Geoff many years later, I am grateful for our interactions. Were they pleasant for me at the time? No. I think I cried. Actually, I’m sure I cried. But he held me to the highest standard, as he has spent his entire career investing in literally everyone with whom he interacts. His book, back in print now, is about riding, horsemanship, and horse care to his standards—the highest level. He is, as he has always been, uncompromising in educating others in so many forms and facets of their equestrian experience. When people have the expertise and want to spend time with you, do it. If you need better coping mechanisms, work on yourself. If you need to cry in front of them, it’s nothing they haven’t seen before. Get educated. It’s hard. The standard is high. And you might not know you’re making progress for a while. There is no instant gratification in the standard. There is often a lot of crying in pursuit of the standard. That is okay. Breeders, riders, trainers, teachers, and educators of all forms: Come join me. In the place where the standards are proudly held high. Where you might not be someone’s favorite person all the time. Where our horses are the ultimate winners. Analyze yourself, prioritize listening over reacting, and look through the lens of the pursuit of greatness to drive yourself and your students to that next level.
Piper Klemm, PHD TPH PUBLISHER
(Follow me on Instagram at @piperklemm)
28 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
Where have you read your copy of Geoﬀ Teall on Riding Hunters, Jumpers, and Equitation ? ORDER YOUR COPY AT THEPLAIDHORSE.COM/TEALL
PIPER AT WORLD EQUESTRIAN CENTER OCALA WITH TPH DECEMBER COVER LEIGH NANDA AND EL CASPER.
Making ‘Strides’ Toward a More Technological Equestrian Community:
PHOTOS: LAUREN MAULDIN, STRIDER, AND ESI
EQUESTRIAN SPORTS ARE RIDDLED WITH ACRONYMS. From the FEI to the USEA,
USDF, WEF, WEC and many more—quiz a show organizer on what each series of letters stands for, and the result is more often than not, a perfect score. SEO, on the other hand? Well, that’s a bit more complicated. The answer, by the way, is Search Engine Optimization, which involves a technological algorithm of key words that improves internet traffic to a particular website. It’s not written in the rule books of any national or international federation, prize list or the equestrian bible that is Hunter Seat Equitation. But technology does have a place in the equestrian industry, and Strider has set out to bring the industry forward—in a user friendly manner. Led by Chief Executive Officer Tara Swersie, the company launched its popular Strider bookings platform in 2016, where today thousands each month find and enter an aggregate of equestrian opportunities, from clinics to horse shows, virtual
30 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST AND GRAND PRIX CHAMPION WILL SIMPSON (BELOW) IS A FEATURED STRIDER CLINICIAN.
master classes and more. Now the company has expanded to provide a range of digital tools and resources for riders, organizers and equestrian business owners. “Riders are busy people. We want to make connections—whether it’s entering a popular horse show or signing up to buy a horse syndicate share—as fast and easy as Amazon 1-Click Checkout. We think it should be that simple,” Swersie said. Strider is a tech lover’s dream, enhancing and streamlining data collection in the industry in a way that has not been done before. But what has made the platform successful is the way it connects equestrians beyond their local networks of barns, opening up more national and international opportunities for them. More than 90,000 riders and organizers across the dressage, hunter- jumper, equitation, eventing, and polo disciplines are now using Strider. For riders, Strider is a place to locate educational and competitive ventures and enter without having to set foot in a show office or sign any physical papers. For organizers, Strider is a place to receive greater visibility for their events and increase entries as well as improve data collection and organization. Everything is completely digital.
“The challenge that I see in the equestrian space is that everyone does their own thing or looks out for their own best interest. Part of the aim at Strider is to streamline that experience for riders,” explained Strider CTO, Heather Briggs. “From riding experiences to professional development opportunities, Strider is a more focused resource for all of your equestrian needs. As a rider, you’ll end up using Strider’s platform a bit like social media- checking the platform regularly lets you know what equestrian events are available in your area.”
EVOLVING TO MEET INDUSTRY NEEDS
Strider began with the creation of StriderPay™, a way for show organizers to receive payment from exhibitors without any merchant fees, deposit fees or bounced check hassles. The digital revenue collection tool accepts credit card and PayPal payments with a mobile friendly checkout process and employs secure payment processing. Riders simply pay a small convenience fee with their entry. “The past year was pretty revolutionary for the industry. We saw tech adoption and marketing innovation in equestrian sport that
February 2021 THE PLAID HORSE
“Part of our mission is that the whole industry needs to move forward together. If we can be the platform in which or through which that happens, we’ve succeeded.” —TARA SWERSIE, STRIDER CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
we hadn’t seen before,” Briggs said. “From a visibility perspective, we’re unique in the industry, because our platform is completely SEO optimized. Activities posted to Strider are among the first to pop up in Google searches by riders. That enables business growth for the organizers and means activities on Strider are easier to find, regardless of the organizers’ marketing capabilities or independent web presence. Everything from jumper shows to clinics and a local barn’s open house become instantly more accessible. We’re very proud to be able to streamline connections for riders to a diverse range of opportunities.” The platform has grown with complementary developments in technology since the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The fact that StriderPay™ offers contactless transactions had made it a safe option for show organizers. The platform even took things one step further with the creation of its e-waiver system. Launched this fall at MARS Great Meadow International, Strider eWaivers allows organizers to submit waivers for digitization, from USEF’s COVID action plan to standard equine liability waivers. “I’m proud of the team for pivoting so quickly and launching such a timely product during COVID. It’s a gamechanger for the industry,” said Swersie. “How many offices, how many barns have you been to with 30lb binders overflowing with outdated waivers.” “Our e-waiver technology is patented and unique. It enables real-time, quick responses to any sort of emergency,” she added. “You can immediately access emergency contact info, or conduct contact tracing. The riders literally scan a QR code with their phone and pull up the venue’s liability release. Then they complete and sign. You don’t have to see anyone in person to get a waiver signature, and you know that your business risk is covered.”
THE DIGITAL TALENT SCOUT
A conversation with Strider’s team quickly reveals the company’s entrepreneurship is as dynamic as its technology. To further connections, the entirely female-owned, run and operated company, launched StriderMatch in December 2020, on which top international riders can post their availability and connect with organizers for opportunities like clinic bookings. “With the platform, we enable connections organically. But we were finding out many of our Organizers and venues were struggling first to book the talent,” stated Natasha
32 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
Sprengers-Levine, Strider’s Chief Operating Officer. “Organizers contacted us saying, ‘I don’t know how to find out a rider’s schedule.’ At the same time, multiple top riders got in touch and said, ‘I don’t know how to let everyone know that I have time to teach clinics.’” Liz Halliday-Sharp, named USEA’s Rider of the Year for 2020—and the first woman to be honored as such in nearly four decades—was among the first riders to enroll in StriderMatch, along with fellow international event rider Lainey Ashker. They are among the many other elite athletes that have clinics listed on Strider, including Boyd Martin, Kasey Perry-Glass, Laura Graves, and Anne Kursinski. All Rutledge Farm Sessions clinic registrations run through Strider; Morven Park and MARS Great Meadow International are also Strider members, while Dressage Today and Practical Horseman ran virtual horse shows through the platform this year. “The platform is positioned well for horse show entries having partnered with USEF to pull real time information directly from USEF database. “A Strider member who takes a few minutes to save their horse and rider profiles can complete their entries in under 30 seconds” Briggs said.
BENEFITS FOR ALL
Strider wants its users to know, the benefits aren’t just in the form of easy entry. Through StriderRewards, the platform has partnered with various companies to offer a special membership rewards program that has growth in its sights. “Last year we saw tremendous growth to our membership. Partnering with industry retailers to reward community involvement seemed like a natural fit. We analyze the demographics data we have on our users to carefully curate our StriderRewards program,” Sprengers-Levine explained, “Our Strider Members receive a monthly email with exclusive offers from our partners for products and services that align with their needs.” Strider has plans to expand the program in the coming year with a points system in which users can accumulate points for purchases and then convert those points into free gifts. “Our overarching mission as a company is to enable connection. Part of that mission is to enable the whole industry to move forward together,” Swersie said. “That means the riders, the businesses, the boarding facilities, the show venues, the support teams. If we can be the platform in which or through which that happens, we’ve succeeded.” As the platform continues its evolution, Strider’s mission remains the same: to foster community, build connection and build capacity within the industry. The technology might be advanced, but Strider is making sure every equestrian can connect—regardless of acronym. To learn more about Strider, visit Striderpro.com or follow the company on Facebook and Instagram at @Striderworld
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THE PLAID HORSE
LAURA BAKER AND HER HUSBAND TYLER WITH THEIR ANIMALS
36 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
HORSE BnB PUTTING EQUESTRIAN ACCOMMODATIONS WORDS:
ON THE MAP WHOEVER SAID LIFE WITH HORSES WAS GLAMOROUS never took their horse with them on a road trip. Laura Baker learned the realities of traveling with equines firsthand while shipping her horses across Canada and into the American northwest to compete on the Arabian horse show circuit. It wasn’t unusual to have vehicle troubles when hauling a trailer. And when the roads started to get dark, the nearby hotel that “conveniently” accepted pets didn’t usually have availability for the 1000-lb animals she had in tow. “Traveling with horses is stressful enough. When you’re on the road all day, it’s tiring, and you want to know you’re going to get to your destination safely,” Baker said. Baker found that the most reliable way to find a safe layover destination for her horses while traveling was by word of mouth. Often, she would make plans based purely on a secondhand recommendation,
driving into unfamiliar farms in the middle of the night, not entirely sure that she had right place. It would be easy for plans to fall through should she be delayed due to traffic, detours, or mechanical issues February 2021 THE PLAID HORSE
SPOTLIGHT: HORSE BNB
“We’re trying to create an online community for horse people to make their lives easier.” —LAURA BAKER
HorseBnB with her truck or trailer. And in the age of technology, she was left looking at a map the old-fashioned way to plot out Plan B—then making calls and crossing her fingers that someone would answer and have room for her. She repeatedly found herself surmising that it would be really nice to have that kind of information up front. When she couldn’t find the answer, she created her own. Baker, along with her husband Tyler, launched Horse BnB in November of 2020. Horse BnB, located online at HorseBnB.com and on the HorseBnB app, is the rapidly growing online destination for short-term and overnight stalls, guest accommodations, and even long-term boarding and stabling across the United States. “I kind of just woke up one day about a year ago, after years on the road, and said, ‘What if we just created an app or website where you could go on, pull up a map, see where you’re going to be, and see what a prospective barn offered ahead of time?’” Baker said. What sets Horse BnB apart is its ability to offer the valuable option of instant booking. While it is not mandatory, barn owners have the option to allow an instant booking for their listing, giving them flexibility and eliminating the extra stress that comes with late-night vehicle breakdowns for travelers. “When I searched myself, there were a of couple websites where people could list a barn, but there was no actual booking system where you could book directly on the Internet or on your phone,” Baker added. “That was a huge concept for us—to make instant bookings. We also wanted to create a space where you could see where your horses would be staying, to have photos of barns and reviews from people.” That epiphany moment came in January of 2020, and by year’s end, the concept was officially a reality, with a lot of expansion
38 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
and technical development in between. The original concept for Horse BnB surrounded short-term stalls and layovers. But when the COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a halt, Baker began expanding the types of listings allowed on the platform to help provide a boost to boarding facilities looking for new ways to advertise online. Horse BnB’s users took the concept and ran with it. Offering boarding facilities on HorseBnB also streamlined monthly board payments for facilities and eliminated their need for face-to-face contact and dropped checks in the age of social distancing; payments could simply be made through the app. “Barns can be very old school with their methods,” Baker said. “You would have to write out a check and post it on a board or drop it in box. For a person boarding a horse, you could go on and make payment right away.” In addition to booking overnight stalls for horses, Horse BnB also began offering listings for guest accommodations, and the term “Barndominium” frequently appears, offering owners a place to lay their head for the night without being more than a few stairs from their horses. The app then further expanded to offer listings for “horse experiences.” “People have listed riding lessons, trail rides, horse yoga—all these interesting experiences have kind of taken off! I didn’t even know that some of these were out there,” Baker said. Listings are popping up all over the United States; users may create accounts to offer their own listings or to book one. The platform was designed with ease of usability a focal point: Users simply need to select a destination and a desired listing type and plug in their travel dates to access and book the available barns and experiences in the area. “I came up with the idea because I wanted to make my life easier with my horses,” Baker said. “Our biggest goal now is to get it out there to the horse community. We’re trying to create an online community for horse people to make their lives easier— whether you’re a barn owner or a horse owner or however you’re involved. There wasn’t a platform before where you could find these things in one space.” For Baker, seeing her idea become a reality—and to see how others have helped to expand it—has been a fulfilling experience. While still in its earliest stages of existence, the Horse BnB community continues to grow, and Baker sees potential for continued expansion. “It’s been really exciting,” she said. “It just started as an idea. We’ve had quite a bit of feedback from people that have said it’s a great idea and are excited, and that makes you more excited. This was an idea that was needed and will be helpful to horse people.” “Eventually, we would like to expand this to other countries,” she added. “We feel that our platform has something to offer for everyone in the horse world, and we want everyone to be a part of it. It’s useful and relevant wherever you are!” To learn more about HorseBnB, visit HorseBnB.com or download the Horse BnB app in the App Store or on Google Play.
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THE PLAID HORSE COMMUNITY
Do You Have Show Ring Superstitions?
We asked THE PLAID HORSE Adult Amateur Lounge on Facebook (come join us!) and got some fascinating replies … “I always put my left boot on first, and I have a couple lucky charms I carry around.” —KENDALL MEIJER
“I’m not superstitious, although I like having my routines. I find superstition to be counterproductive as it takes focus away from the task at hand.” —STEPHANIE DANHAKL
“I have four pairs of show breeches. All literally identical. Same color/brand/size. But if I have a great day in the ring, I will go home and wash the pair I wore that day just so I can use them the next morning rather than just waiting to do all the show laundry on Sunday night.” —ALISON KRATISH
“I’ve found that if, during the show as I’m walking around, I give a random compliment to at least 4 strangers ... I have fantastic rides and usually win my class. It’s weird. It works. I get some really confused & startled looks sometimes from those I compliment. But somehow it boosts my confidence and I dont know why ... but I’m running with it.”
“I have a leather bracelet with my horse’s name on it (like the little kids wear) that makes me feel ‘luckier’, with no basis in fact!”
—PATRICIA WILLIS MADONIA
“Every single time I enter the ring, my trainer says ‘have fun,’ and I respond ‘I always do.’ I’m now at the point where I pause when I walk in if I haven’t heard her say it—I can’t do my course without that send off!” —OLIVIA PECHSTEIN
40 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
“I don’t think I’m superstitious per se, but some clothing combos definitely have better juju than others.” —CAYLA DAMICK
“I have a ritual before I walk in the show ring—and I’m also VERY superstitious— Before I walk in the ring, I tug on my gloves and say ‘dad is right there’ under my breath to myself. Side note, my dad passed away in 2009, and was the ULTIMATE horse show dad! Anyone who met him remembers him literally tailgating at all shows... grill, golf cart with speakers blasting Michael Bublé and all.” —SANDRA CRABTREE
“Nope, no superstitions. Just be well rested, well prepared, well fed, and grateful.” —CAROL NELSON PHOTO: ANDREW RYBACK
GARE DU LYON (GOLIATH H VDL Z) 2015 |ZANGERSHEIDE|16.3 HH WFFS N/N
Trained and shown by Highbury Show Stables, Sherwood Park ,AB
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ULTERRA EQUESTRIAN LTD.
Congratulations to Our Over 100 Ponies Sold or Leased in 2020!
PHOTOS © ANDREW RYBACK PHOTOGRAPHY, SHAWN MCMILLEN PHOTOGRAPHY, THE BOOK, MACKENZIE SHUMAN, & GRACE SALMON
Stonewall Farm • Text: 920-889-0028 S TO N E WA L L P O N I E S@YA H O O.C O M • I XO N I A , W I S C O N S I N
Congratulations to Our Over 100 Ponies Sold or Leased in 2020!
PHOTOS © ANDREW RYBACK PHOTOGRAPHY, SHAWN MCMILLEN PHOTOGRAPHY, THE BOOK, MACKENZIE SHUMAN, & GRACE SALMON
Stonewall Farm • Text: 920-889-0028 S TO N E WA L L P O N I E S@YA H O O.C O M • I XO N I A , W I S C O N S I N
I AM A BLACK EQUESTRIAN:
KAITLYN NICELY-HARVEY I rode for the first time when I was eight years old. We were visiting my grandmother, Terry West, who was one of the first female black jockeys. My older sister, younger brother, and I rode, and I was the only one who kept coming out to ride. I’ve always loved it. I like to think that it’s in my blood to do this. Terry owns most of the horses that I ride, and she helps me a lot. She and my great aunt Edith taught me how to ride and they both played a major role in my riding. I decided to turn professional right after aging out of the juniors. As I got older and started riding more and more, the vision formed and I thought, I can make a life doing this. Today, I primarily work with Carolyn and Kenny Krome of K2 Show Stables in Westminster, MD, as well as Jenn Newman at Persimmon Tree Farm. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with Chad Keenum, Jamey Prettyman, Adrian Ford, Shelly Bulman, Jeffrey Curtis, Melinda Cohen, Paul Turner, and Brian Joyce. I started catch riding as a junior quite a few years ago. At horse shows, people would say, “Hey, Kaitlyn, can you ride this one for me? Can you school this pony?” Last year, I got to ride several junior hunters for Jeffrey Curtis, and I’ve worked a lot with Chad Keenum, who’s given me some nice opportunities. Paul Turner gave me some rides on green ponies at Pony Finals, where I’ve gotten to show a few times. I’ve had a lot of support for turning pro out of my junior years, as well as a CWD sponsorship thanks to Ashley Lowe, and for all of that, I’m so grateful. Carolyn Krome was really supportive of me going pro, and my grandma was all for it. She told me, “Go for it. You can do this. You can build a name for yourself and keep stepping up from there.” In 2019, I won the Laura Pickett Award at the WIHS Regional Horse Show. That was a real honor. Since turning pro, I’ve been teaching out of Pickwick Stables in Sykesville, MD. I primarily teach adults, and I have a few kids and some beginners who are just stepping up to horse show. I really enjoy seeing the riders and horses really come together as a team. I love trying new things and seeing the partnerships form! I also love showing myself, and I’m lucky enough to have a nice group of horses right now. I recently bought
44 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: SCHOOLING SOLIDIFY; NICELY-HAVEY AND HER GRANDMOTHER, TERRY WEST, ONE OF THE FIRST BLACK FEMALE JOCKEYS; ON REBEL YELL, A PONY CATCH RIDE FOR ADRIAN FORD
PHOTOS: (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP) ERIN GILMORE; ALLYSON WASHINGTON; ESI
VOICES: KAITLYN NICELY-HARVEY
WHEN TOP TRAINERS, MAGAZINES, AND AD CAMPAIGNS USE THEIR PLATFORMS TO REPRESENT PEOPLE OF COLOR IN OUR SPORT, THEY’RE SAYING, ‘HEY, YOU CAN DO THIS.’
ABOVE, LEFT: WINNING THE MHSA HUNT SEAT MEDAL IN 2018. TOP RIGHT: WINNING THE LAURA PICKETT AWARD IN 2019. BOTTOM RIGHT: RIDING DANCINONMYOWN AT THE 2020 COVERT FARM HUNTER DERBY.
a four-year-old from Andy Kocher named Quora. She’s lovely, very talented, and I hope to get her into the young jumpers next year. I have another nice jumper, Solidify, and I hope to step him up to the 1.20-meter jumpers this winter and keep building on it from there. He’s owned by my grandmother and I’m very grateful to ride him. And I have a few hunters. I have a nice little Thoroughbred, Nothin But Fire, who I’ll be showing in the 3' Greens. I’m hoping he can be a really nice pro horse to set me up. Then I’ve had another nice hunter for almost three years now from Chad Keenum. He’s almost my obsession, kind of like my kid! His name is DancinOnMyOwn (Sinclair at home), and he’s pretty game for anything, but I think he really loves to do the derbies. He’s great to ride really difficult to catch. He loves his turnout!
46 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
Growing up being a person of color, I can’t really think of a single time where I could look at a magazine or an ad and say, “Oh, this person looks like me.” I think a big step toward change is giving people of color the representation, giving them a voice. Personally, I’ve always felt like I’ve been accepted and loved, and I’d like to think our sport is loving and accepting of everyone. Still, I’d love to go to horse shows and see different people from different backgrounds. There’s a severe lack of diversity in the equestrian world, and I think that’s sad. It definitely needs to change. People need to open their minds and hearts for a change in the sport. When top trainers, magazines, and ad campaigns use their platforms to represent people of color in our sport, they’re saying, “Hey, you can do this, this sport is accepting and loving of people of color.” It’s about giving people visibility and a voice. PHOTOS: LAUREN MILLER (LEFT); CHRISTINE COWAN (BOTTOM RIGHT)
Pick up a book & READ! What readers are saying about SHOW STRIDES, BOOK 1 and 2: “My 10-year-old daughter started reading this series over the summer and hasn’t put it down. She is able to identify with a lot of the characters in the books and is excited for the 3rd book of the series to be available.”
Rider Keira Lancelle Bates reads SHOW STRIDES, BOOK 1: School Horses & Show Ponies
A ARE YOU DES I R SHOW STER? D A E R g to self readin
o of your Email a phot @theplaidhorse.com es rid e! ShowSt ith us onlin or share w esReader rid St w ho #S
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Read all three!
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PHOTO: KRISTINE LANCELLE
THE CLONED RICO SUAVE II (ABOVE); THE ORIGINAL RICO SUAVE AT PONY FINALS (RIGHT)
50 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
Leslie Butzer has long strived to breed the best hunter ponies. Thanks to cloning, her beloved gelding, Rico Suave, can help her achieve that dream.
Pony Perfection WORDS:
WHETHER YOU’RE A HORSE PERSON, a dog lover, or
KRISTIN PITZER DAVID ERDEK & SHAWN MCMILLEN
an aficionado of another species, it’s likely a special individual has come along at some point in your life that made you think, “I wish they made another one just like him or her.” It’s a thought many animal lovers have had, including Leslie Butzer, owner of Ponies and Palms Show Stables in Boca Raton, Florida.
Leslie was at Petcon a few years back with daughter Lindsay, a veterinarian and Instagram influencer, when she met Lauren Aston of ViaGen, a leader in animal cloning. After seeing the cloning successes presented by ViaGen, Leslie became enamored with the idea of cloning her top ponies. Now, with her first clone on the ground, Leslie’s dream of breeding the best hunter stock is well underway.
Growing up, Leslie rode at a top hunter/ jumper barn in upstate Minnesota that owned a number of Welsh ponies. That environment fueled her passion for breeding top hunter ponies for children. “I wanted to start a breeding program to develop the top hunter ponies in the country,” Leslie said. “We’ve just been very passionate about the journey of a foal to a seasoned hunter pony.” Shortly after marrying her husband, Brian, one of the first veterinarians to clone a dog in the U.S., Leslie purchased a Welsh pony stallion named Bristols Houdini. She imported several mares from Wales to breed to him, aiming to raise successful competitors for the show ring. Gary Duffy, an R judge who is also passionate about ponies, was influential in finding stock to continue famous mare lines, and a couple of those mares,
February 2021 THE PLAID HORSE
including Won To Know and Rockette, both have offspring that will soon make an appearance in the show ring. As time went on, Leslie directed her focus toward the practice of breeding hunter mares that had proven themselves in the show ring to top pony stallions. She then ran into a problem when looking for stallions to breed to her show mares—since ponies only show with juniors, and juniors are not allowed to show stallions, no pony stallions had truly been proven. “It’s hard to breed to these pony stallions that are not proven whatsoever and have no show records,” said Leslie’s daughter Lisa, who, along with her five siblings, helps out at Ponies and Palms. “You don’t really have an idea of what is going to be produced unless that stallion has been around for a while and has already produced proven hunter ponies.” Leslie turned to some of her top gelding show horses, looking for ideas. Among them were Rico Suave and Spellbound, two of the most famous ponies in the hunter world. “Rico,” who was imported from Holland, has brought along many top children in the hunter ring. He carried Sophie Gochman to a medal at the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Pony Medal Finals and has achieved numerous wins with his current rider, Ava Barnes. Rico’s barnmate Spellbound has been Horse of the Year for three years in a row. Leslie began to picture a future in which Rico Suave and Spellbound offspring filled her fields. It sounded impossible—the ponies had both been gelded without any semen being collected—but through cloning, she’s been able to secure a chance for their genetics to pass on to the next generation.
BECOMING A PIONEER
Clones are born intact, even if the original animal was spayed or gelded. This allows a breeder to use the original animal’s genetics in their program because the clone carries a replica of its DNA. “The sperm is 100% the DNA from the original animal that you cloned, so when you’re breeding to the clones, you’re essentially breeding back to the
52 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
original through the clones,” Lisa said. Rico’s clone would provide an intact, exact replica Leslie could breed to her mares. Since Rico had already demonstrated his athleticism and shown aptitude in the hunter ring, it seemed like the perfect solution to her problem of not being able to find proven stallions. Leslie’s quest to clone Rico began in 2019, and in September 2020, Rico Suave II was born at Zerlotti Genetics in Pleasanton, Texas. The foal was shipped
“It gets kind of saturated in the show ring when you only have those few really competitive ponies. It would be good for the industry to have more really good competition, and doing this cloning, you’re just bringing out better stock that can compete.” —LESLIE BUTZER to Boca Raton in mid-December, and Leslie has been thrilled with the results. “It’s crazy how similar they are,” Lisa said. “I’ve never seen a foal so filled out, but if you see his original, he looks exactly like that. Rico has beautiful conformation, and the clone is the same way. They also do the same head toss thing, so it’s kind of surreal.” In addition to his build and his antics, the clone, whose barn name is “Blake” after ViaGen’s president, Blake Russell, sports the same liver chestnut color as Rico. Each pony has socks on their hind legs and a blaze, though Rico Suave II also has a sock on one of his front legs. It’s common for markings to shift in utero, Lisa explained, since the genes for certain physical traits can express differently. Leslie’s plans for Rico Suave II don’t just involve breeding him one day, as she intends for him to go into training while still a stallion to prove he can jump around a hunter course. Since experiences help shape how a horse develops as an adult, she hopes to replicate Rico’s training as much as possible. “We thought if we did have the opportunity to raise him and train him in [Rico’s original] program, then it
would be like he’s experiencing it all over again,” Lisa said. “They say if they don’t have all those same experiences they go through, it might not be the same animal, so we are going to try our best to keep his journey similar to the original Rico Suave.” Part of that journey involves sending the colt to Chris Payne and David Belford at New Hope Farm, as they leased Rico for several years and know the gelding well. “They have done an exceptional job with Rico, and they are just elated to see the clone and be involved with him,” Leslie said. “They want to train the clone, and I would be honored to have him under their care at some point in his life.” She is also grateful to have the help of Donald Cheska and his wife, Cara, along with their daughter, Chapin, as she works toward making Rico Suave II a leading USEF hunter pony stallion. Donald enjoys the pony hunter breeding in-hand classes, and Leslie said it’s an honor to work with him.
A BRIGHT FUTURE
Leslie has become such a firm believer in cloning through her experiences with Rico Suave II, ViaGen and Zerlotti that she intends to clone Spellbound next. She’s got a handful of other ponies in her barn that she thinks will be good candidates, too. At $85,000 a pop, cloning is still not cheap. But, Leslie said, buying a clone of Rico Suave for that amount is much cheaper than what she’s been offered for the gelding on multiple occasions. “For $85,000, you couldn’t buy a Rico Suave, FROM LEFT: THE ORIGINAL RICO SUAVE AT PONY FINALS IN 2019, RICO SUAVE II “BLAKE” AT HOME, AND TRAINER HANNAH STEVENS AT CAPITAL CHALLENGE IN 2020
BOCA’S ENTOURAGE, A 12.2H WELSH CROSS STALLION, IS STANDING FOR THE 2021 SEASON AT PONIES AND PALMS.
but if you can clone one of these animals for $85,000, and you only put half down and pay the rest when the animal’s born, it’s worth the investment,” Leslie said. “You go through so many trials and errors when looking for horses, but with clones, you know the original animal’s characteristics and capabilities.” With her new clone at home, and having recently purchased a second farm in Wellington, Florida, Leslie is looking forward to the future of Ponies and Palms. In addition to her top-notch ponies, she’s also brought on a new trainer, Hannah Stevens, who, like Leslie, is also from the Midwest. With Stevens’ assistance, Leslie is looking to open her lesson program to new students. “I’m just really happy with Hannah and our current team. She is honest and hardworking, and her knowledge and professionalism in this industry are extremely respected,” Leslie said. “She has already brought a lot of success to my show stable and has done a great job with the kids. We’re just in the infancy stage, so we can definitely grow, and we currently have a barn full of sale ponies to help kids achieve their goals.” Rico Suave II, with his superior genetics, could be the start of that dream, and Leslie and Lisa anticipate cloning will bring other benefits even beyond their business. “It gets kind of saturated in the show ring when you only have those few really competitive ponies,” Lisa said. “It would be good for the industry to have more really good competition, and doing this cloning, you’re just bringing out better stock that can compete.”
February 2021 THE PLAID HORSE
The Stallion Issue Through the Years
Select Champions ESP Holiday & Horses Wellington, Florida NOVEMBER 24-29, 2020 High Junior / Amateur Owner Jumper
Fresca La Quadra & Alonso Valdez Prado Green Hunter 3'
Virella & Ki-Juan Minors Amateur Owner Hunter 3'3"
Harmony & Katie Jacobs-Robinson Adult Amateur Jumper
Queretaro 2 & Paula Portocarrero
The Autumn Jubilee Santa Barbara, California NOVEMBER 20-22, 2020 Children’s Hunter 3'
Quality Silva & Caden Jacobs 0.70 m Jumpers
Tippy Toes & Ashlin Goodwin 1.20 m Jumpers
Brazos & Sarah Landekarl Opportunity Rider Cross Rail
CJ’s Honor & Danielle Skaar
SNHJA Open Horse Show Las Vegas, Nevada NOVEMBER 22, 2020 Training Jumpers
Blizzard & McKenna Slaughter Cross Rail Riders Hunters
Silver Dollar & Tatum Guarnera Mini Hunter
Back in Black & Dara Braunstein Hopeful Jumpers Open 2009
Reiko’s Thunder & Georgia Vigo
Old Salem Farm November North Salem, New York NOVEMBER 28, 2020 Low Hunter 3'
Aster De La Cense & Summer Witherspoon Large Children’s Hunter Pony
Royal Storm & Ryley Kurau
Pre-Children’s / Adult Equitation
Set the Night on Fire & Amelia Ruckh Short Stirrup 2013
54 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
Iceland & Allegra Esposito
THE PLAID HORSE COMMUNITY
THE PLAID HORSE QUESTIONNAIRE WITH
VAN E SSA MA Z ZOLI RIDER STATUS: AMATEUR
• HOMETOWN: ROCKFORD, MI • TRAINER: CHRIS BENNINGS • As a horsewoman, I am most proud of doing everything behind the scenes on my own. From the daily care—often 10 -12 hours, 7 days a week—and still finding time to work hard at improving my riding. • As a horsewoman, I would most like to improve on my time management and to be as efficient as I can to have more time to ride. • I’d be lost without tack cleaner and liniment in my tack trunk. And without peppermints and spurs in my ring bag.
• I think the biggest misconception about our sport is that you have to come from wealth to contend at shows. • My best piece of advice for young riders is don’t get hung up on a bad day or a bad show. Everyone has bad days. You’re going to lose more than you will win but you have to take those losses and learn from them to grow and get better. • My favorite horse book is Seabiscuit. • My favorite non-horse book is To Kill A Mockingbird. • The part of riding I struggle most with is handling my nerves at big events. It’s been a work an progress, I really work hard to stay focused and go over my plan so I can execute it the best I can. • The part of riding I’m best at is staying soft with my hands and letting the horse finish its jump.
MY MOTTO IS
A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work. 56 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
• I’m a sucker for a dark dapple grey or a palomino pony with a flaxen mane and tail with chrome. On Mondays, you’ll find me still at the barn. • I sometimes wish I had the time to learn how to braid manes and tails well! • I’m afraid of spiders! • The horse person I most admire is Beezie Madden because her horsemanship goes beyond just being in the saddle and winning. • Something I say ten times a day is “Where’s my phone charger?” • One of my greatest show ring victories was Champion at the National. One of the best horse names I’ve ever heard is Weebiscuit. • My absolute favorite show is The Devon Horse Show because of the carnival going on during the show. Such a fun atmosphere, and it’s so fun to go on the Ferris wheel or go play games after showing. The infamous lemon sticks are a must have when I go. PHOTO: GEORGIE HAMMOND/PHELPS MEDIA GROUP
PAS O PA R K W E LC O M E C L AS S I C
PASO PU M PKINS & PONIE S
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April 28–May 2 • Classic Series
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R O S É I N MAY
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TU RKE Y TROT & JU M P November 18–21 • B Series
R E S E RV E S TA L L S N OW
Visit pasorobleshorsepark.com/stall-reservations or email info@PasoRoblesHorsePark.com to reserve your stalls today!
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Use Your Life Skills to Be a Better Rider WORDS:
TONYA JOHNSTON, MA
This is a story about an adult amateur rider named Sue, who had a very lazy, lovely horse that didn’t always follow along with the plan. [Note: Name and details have been changed to protect anonymity.] On this particular day, Sue had just finished telling me why she wasn’t able to complete her mental skills homework before our session. Sue is a lawyer, and as it turned out, she had spent the last two weeks preparing for a very tough court case where she needed to dig in, work late, focus her energy, and use all of her tenacity in order to get the job done. Sue was still tired as we started our
session, but I could hear the smile in her voice as she told me that she was, indeed, happy with her efforts and that there had been a positive outcome. Sue had started working with me to help her build her focus. Her horse Ernie was a been-there-done-that sweetheart, but he tended to test her going by the ingate and often added strides in lines going away from home. As an adult rider with only a few years of experience, she was having trouble convincing herself (and him) that she knew what she was doing and struggled to generate enough positive intensity and the laser focus that they
both needed. The exercises during lessons as well as their courses at shows started off with good intentions, but the outcome was often shaped by whatever Ernie felt like doing on any particular day. Since we had started off with a clear understanding of Sue’s mental skills goals, I was actually happy to hear her work story at the start of our session— even though she was feeling badly about the missing homework. I excitedly said, “Wait a minute, Sue, this is actually a great story for us to explore. When was the last time you thought about using your life skills and strengths from work in your riding? There is so much you already have here that can make you mentally strong in the ring! Have you ever looked at it that way?” Many riders haven’t taken stock of their life skills and adapted them to use at the barn as mental skills for their riding. Might you have life skills just waiting to be utilized at the barn, in the ring, or at the back gate at a show?
February 2021 THE PLAID HORSE
Let’s help you see your strengths through fresh eyes and mobilize them to serve your goals with your horse.
IDENTIFYING YOUR LIFE SKILLS
It is helpful to begin by taking stock of the strengths and capabilities you use to create successes in your everyday life. We all perform many roles in our lives, and in this exercise, you are going to consider yours. For instance, what roles do you play at work? In the home? Within your family? What skills help you excel in these different aspects of your life? TRY THIS EXERCISE:
• Name each role you hold in your life. There are likely several … mom, friend, daughter, client, student, artist, writer, accountant, barn mate, scientist, etc. • Next, imagine that you are writing a job description for each of your roles. You want to create a bullet point list of the qualities and skills you possess and utilize in order to be successful in the role. Here are Sue’s answers regarding her work as a lawyer: intelligent, driven, organized, resilient, proactive, creative, and motivated. • Once you have your list, choose 1 to 3 of your skills that would be helpful to use in working towards your current riding goals. For example, Sue chose motivated, proactive and driven. NOTE: Please be kind with yourself in this process and give yourself credit where credit is due. Identify qualities that you trust are predominantly stable over the long term. For example, do not discount something because one day last week you were tired, distracted or made a mistake(!).
60 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
USING YOUR LIFE SKILLS AT THE BARN
Through the process of identifying and choosing her most helpful life skills, Sue realized that when she arrived at the barn, she had been leaving those skills in the car. She emphasized her rookie status, deferred to everyone including Ernie, and stayed almost too passive so as not to make any mistakes. How about you? Could you put your life skills to more use at the barn as well? HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR THE PROCESS OF TRANSFERRING YOUR STRENGTHS TO YOUR RIDING:
Self-talk: Try using your skills and strengths in your self-talk by creating affirmations that actively illustrate how you will use them every day at the barn. Remember, these are not pie-in-the-sky wishes, they are based on your actual abilities. They will therefore have an enhanced impact on your self-confidence. These are Sue’s examples: “I am proactive, set the tone for our energy level, and create a forward pace.” “My motivation helps Ernie focus.” “We are driven to make things good things happen together.” Once you write your affirmations, post them in and around your riding clothes, tack trunk, and equipment to help you activate these skills at the barn. You can also repeat them in the conversations you have with yourself as you travel to the barn. Visualization: Take a moment to recreate a recent life experience where you successfully used your life skills to create success. Where were you? How did you feel? What was your posture? What were you focused on? Close your eyes and recreate the scene and the setting. Sink into your feelings of strength and purpose. For example, Sue imagined herself in the courtroom, staying poised and focused under pressure. Her posture was tall, balanced, and open. Next, take the details you feel and shift your imagery scene to the barn. You have the same you, but you are in a different setting. Now, imagine riding an exercise
or a course with those same empowered feelings and laser focus. Enjoy your feelings of mastery in the moment and stay positive with your imagination. Sue felt almost like a new rider as she did this exercise, and she felt inspired to get to the barn the next day. Write your own success story: First of all, please do not worry, you don’t have to be an actual writer to use this strategy. The point of this exercise is to add some muscle and versatility to your life skills and to practice bringing them to life in a powerful and detailed way To begin, write down one of your short-term riding goals. Now, write a short story about your next ride. Maybe your setting is for a hack, a lesson, or a day at a show. Using as many adjectives and descriptors as possible to write a story that chronicles how you used your life skills to accomplish your goal(s) and had fun during your ride. Sue had a hard time doing this exercise at first, but found a groove when I reminded her to free herself from her old patterns, use her imagination, and explore the possibilities of applying her life skills in her riding. NOTE: At first glance, this exercise
may seem similar to the visualization exercise, in which I asked you to look back in time to access your feelings. This exercise emphasizes experimenting with how you can use your skills in the future. They create a powerful combination when used together.
We sometimes compartmentalize and divide our self-concept to fit the different roles we play in our lives. With these ideas and strategies, my goal for you is to own all of your strengths in such a way that you can use them at will, and most certainly to help you and your horse accomplish your dreams. TONYA JOHNSTON, MA is a mental skills coach for riders who works with individual clients and offers a variety of groups all over the world. Her book Inside Your Ride is available in Amazon and her podcast is a part of the Plaid Horse Magazine’s Plaidcast. Connect with Tonya at www.TonyaJohnston.com.
We all make mistakes. But horse people, as a group, aren’t always the best at handling them. So TPH reached out to some top riders to share their own show ring bloopers to prove, once and for all, that these mistakes really do happen to the best of us! BY
ESI, THE BOOK LLC, PIPER KLEMM, & ANDREW RYBACK PHOTOGRAPHY LLC PHOTOS, FROM LEFT:
Hear more It Happens moments on the #Plaidcast at theplaidhorse.com/listen
62 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
HOLD THE THOUGHT & LYMAN T. WHITEHEAD AT HARRISBURG IN 1992.
LYMAN T. WHITEHEAD
In 2019, I was fortunate enough to qualify to ride in the WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Spectacular. I was so excited as it would be my first time riding under the lights in International ring at WEF. I was lucky to get to show a horse I had shown previously in California and had later been sold. I trotted in and went directly to work. The first half of the course went lovely. I rounded the turn to the last part of the course and there was a rather spooky jump in the corner. My horse started to spook a little, and I panicked and kicked him hard … and he promptly spun me off. Obviously, I was disappointed, but it was a great learning experience about why it is important to give your horse a tour of the arena when competing in evening classes or derbies!”
I was at a horse show a long time ago on a First Year horse. We came through a turn to an outside line and the horse spooked and ducked out. The way the horse ducked out, I fell off onto the standard, and the back of my jacket hooked onto it. The standard was between the flap of jacket and my back. So, I was hung up like a scarecrow and they had to lift me off of it! I was dangling a foot off the ground. It was pretty embarrassing, but it all worked out and I got off. That was one to remember! You couldn’t have done it twice. These things happen to everybody. Keeps it interesting.”
PATRICIA GRIFFITH AND ANDRE DIGNELLI, NOW AND THEN (INSET).
I was showing at Capital Challenge in what was then the First Year Green division. I went in the first round and my round was pretty good. I think I scored an 82. My horse could be a little suspicious the first time around and hold his breath a bit. But he won a lot of classes and I thought we had a good chance to be competitive there. He warmed up great for the second round and I was confident we could score much better than we did in our first trip. He trotted in super relaxed and I picked up a nice forward pace. This round the first jump was the only new fence. A vertical along the rail. We got to the fence in what I thought was the perfect spot. He came off the ground and I was thinking I had it. He was gonna purr around this time! He threw his feet back down on top of the boxes and quickly scrambled in reverse. I cleared the vertical and landed with my reins in hand. I stepped back over the demolished vertical and ran my stirrups up to lead him out. The crowd was yelling something at me so I turned back and realized he stepped on his fake tail during this whole thing. It was now laying in the dirt at the scene of the crime! I turned him around and we went back for it. It was a long walk out ... reins in one hand and his fake tail in the other!”
Years ago while working at Windrush Farm for Melanie Smith as a very young professional, I had an oops. I had the opportunity to ride a horse in the Intermediate Jumpers (1.40m). I was so excited! Little did I realize he had an issue with combinations. I trotted in the ring in Tampa during the Stadium Jumping Circuit ready to show everyone what I could do with this horse. We jumped half way around beautifully, like an equitation round, until we got to the triple combination. A verticaloxer-vertical, one stride to two strides. The horse slammed on the brakes at A, I spanked him with my crop. We circled back ... jumped A, stopped at B. I spanked him with my crop. We circled back, spurs dug in, elbows flapping, me growling ... we were going to jump that combo! Well, he did: He jumped A, jumped B, then in one giant stride, covered the two and jumped C like a 1.40m water jump! I got left waiting for that second stride, landed in front of the saddle, wrapped my legs around his skinny neck and jumped the next three jumps on course sitting straight up riding his neck! I stayed on to ride another day, but with a bit of laughter following me out of the ring. The horse went on to have a great Grand Prix career once his front feet got sorted out.” February 2021 THE PLAID HORSE
5 STRIDES WITH AN “INTERVIEW” WITH THE GRAND PRIX SHOW JUMPER (VIA HIS RIDER, LAURA KRAUT!)
The 13-year-old grey Holsteiner gelding won the $214,000 Spy Coast Farm Holiday II Grand Prix CS14* in December. TPH caught up with him via human show jumping superstar, Laura Kraut. What’s your favorite thing about being in the show ring? I really like it when there are a lot of people watching me. A few of my favorite places are Olympia, Aachen, and The Royal, just to name a few! But my favorite part is knowing I will get a treat when I complete my round. If you could eat any human food, what would it be? Bananas. What do you love most about a jump off? It’s taken me a long time to figure out how to jump really well and go fast. I got it now and have really enjoyed this past year practicing during our COVID break. What would surprise our readers to know about you? My barn name is Rocket … and I think pinning my ears is really cute, and a sign of affection. What’s life like at home when you’re not showing? When I am at home in England, I love hacking out on the roads and through the English countryside. Laura sometimes takes me to the race horse gallop which is so much fun!
64 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
PHOTO: CARLY NASZNIC
February 2021 THE PLAID HORSE
Coming Summer 2021 Take courses with Professor Piper Klemm, Ph.D.
Information coming soon at theplaidhorse.com/college
Behaving for the Vet How to help your horse to be calm and respectful for injections and procedures WORDS:
DR. HEATHER BEACH
68 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
A calm and respectful horse is important for everyone’s safety when the vet comes to the barn. Even if your horse seems to be relaxed and calm about most things, they can become unpredictable and stressed when unfamiliar people approach for unpleasant but necessary medical procedures. Understanding how horses learn and react to unpleasant stimuli can help you prepare your horse for his next veterinary appointment and keep the visit as stress-free and safe as possible.
PRESSURE AND RELEASE: HOW HORSES LEARN The most important concept to understand when training your horse to tolerate unpleasant procedures is the concept of pressure and release. Horses learn very quickly through the process of “negative reinforcement.” In this instance, “negative” does not imply “bad” or “mean.” Negative reinforcement is a scientific term that refers to the removal of a stimulus. For instance, if I want to train a horse to move over when I push on his hip, I apply a stimulus (pressure to the hip) and when he executes the desired response (moving over) I remove the stimulus by no longer pressing on his hip (negative reinforcement). This concept works extremely well with true physical stimulus such as physical pressure on the hip, as well as with “energy” pressure created by body language and anticipation of a noxious stimulus. Many horses who are needle-shy have learned to become tense when they are approached by a clinician with a needle. The more tense or anxious they get, the more intense the pressure can become due to increased restraint from the handler, determination from the clinician to complete the injection, and the overall emotional temperature of any bystanders. This pressure increases until the horse finally gets away from the handler, or perhaps the veterinarian manages to harpoon them with a vaccine just to “get it done.” At this point, the horse has escalated his attempts to avoid the stimulus and, finally, the pressure is released. The horse has learned to escalate his attempts to resist the procedure in order to remove the pressure.
If, on the other hand, the horse has been trained systematically through pressure and release to learn that standing calm and still is the desired behavior that releases the pressure, the whole procedure can progress with much less excitement and drama and is safer for everyone involved. What does this look like in practice? As a veterinarian I often prefer to remove the handler from the equation because I cannot count on them to have adequate timing and ability to read the horse. I will hold the lead rope myself and find a position where the horse stands quietly next to me. The next “pressure” I apply to the horse is to gently pat the neck. If the horse is tense or moves away, I may reduce the first step to simply standing closer to the horse until they are quiet again with my presence closer to them. Once they stand quiet I step back out of their space again. Then I will return to petting them. If they step off I will try to keep contact with my hand touching them until they stop moving again, then I will remove my hand to release pressure once they are still. At first, I might have to settle for them being “stiller” before they will understand to actually stand still. The next step would be to pinch the skin for a vaccine or to hold off the jugular vein for a blood draw. At each one of these increasing levels of pressure the horse needs to be trained to understand that the pressure will stop when they are calm and still. This takes a certain amount of “feel” from horsemanship and timing to accomplish properly. In my experience, about 90 percent of needle-shy horses can be vaccinated or have blood drawn with little issue after five minutes or less of this type of training. Once a horse can safely be administered an intravenous injection, sedation can be administered for any more invasive procedures.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREPARE YOUR NEEDLE-SHY HORSE? It may not be enough to get your horse comfortable with you by performing pressure and release training at home. Your horse may still be uncomfortable with your veterinarian, and your veterinarian may not have the required timing to read your horse during the horse’s appointment, depending on
their horsemanship level. This is not to say that you should not work on this process yourself. You should work with your horse at home to establish that they tolerate pinching of the skin on the neck and holding off of the jugular vein while standing still. You can also “pretend” vaccinate or draw blood by using a pen in place of a needle to further work on desensitizing and acceptance of veterinary procedures. Additionally, talk to your veterinarian about your concerns. If you think that your horse would benefit from a training session with your veterinarian where you work together as a team to improve the behavior, ask your veterinarian if you can schedule an appointment for this. Most veterinarians would be happy to schedule an appointment specifically for behavior modification if it means that the next routine visit is likely to go smoother. Your veterinarian should not be expected to stay longer and take additional time performing a training session at the time of your routine appointment without additional compensation. Your veterinarian needs to be compensated for their time spent working slowly and systematically through the issue with a problem horse.
MEDICATIONS AND “TREATS”
Understanding how horses learn and react to unpleasant stimuli can help you prepare your horse for his next veterinary appointment and keep the visit as stress-free and safe as possible. 70 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
Finally, there are certain medications that can be utilized in advance of a veterinary appointment if needed. Orally administered sedatives including acepromazine or dormosedan gel can be tried. The downside of oral sedatives is that the horse is not learning in this scenario. If your horse becomes ill and is not eating or has a serious injury and adrenaline is too high for oral sedatives to work, you can still have a very dangerous situation on your hands that will require intravenous sedation. Zylkene is an oral supplement that reduces situational anxiety and can be beneficial when fed prior to a stressful event. In this scenario, the horse is not sedated so they still retain their ability to learn and process information. There have been some published behavior studies supporting the use of Zylkene during learning sessions and this product may be beneficial when combined with systematic training.
Feeding treats to reward a horse for good behavior or clicker training can also be used. In this case, the treat or the click is considered “positive reinforcement.” When the horse performs the desired task (standing still, allowing the procedure) they receive their reward (treat or a click). The biggest difficulty with this type of training is being able to have the right timing for giving the treats/ reward. Achieving the correct timing may involve moving out of the position you are standing in, and the need for a large supply of treats if the horse is taking a while to understand. Furthermore, the horse is likely to get pushy and excited for the treats which will cause more moving around and is counter-productive to training them to stand quietly and calmly during the procedure. Many owners like to feed their horse from a bucket while sedation is being administered in order to distract the horse during the injection. This is quite dangerous in my opinion because the horse is not still and their neck is moving quite a bit, increasing the chances for the injection to get outside of the vein during administration, or worse, for an inadvertent intracarotid injection which can have life threatening consequences. Clicker training itself can be very effective if a concentrated effort is made, so long as your veterinarian is familiar with the process of clicker training. Good luck working with your horse on being calm for the vet!
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72 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
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KAREN LUCIAN: R E AC H I N G NEW HEIGHTS
74 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
The bicoastal investment manager shares her passion for work and horses WORDS:
CHRISTOPHER CERVANTES |
AREN LUCIAN IS NOT ONLY A prominent show competitor on the Wellington,
Florida show circuit, but she also possesses admirable characteristics, which make her successful in both her professional and riding careers. Lucian’s determination is as strong as a pro football linebacker. She works long hours, balancing her careers in both investments and competing.
Certainly, prestigious equestrians like Lucian compete in Wellington; however, uniquely she owns homes on both coasts, which is a lifelong dream for her. Lucian has never shied away from hard work to accomplish her goals. Owning homes in both Newport Beach, California and Wellington, Florida allow her to follow her childhood dream of competing on the East Coast with her company based in California. Horses were not handed on a silver platter to Lucian. Jetting coast to coast while working, and riding has taken years of dedication for her. Lucian’s perseverance is to be recognized and admired. Karen Lucian graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara and embarked on an entrepreneurial career based on creating value for her clients. She founded a real estate company that focuses on matching her clients’ needs with real properties, resulting in consistently high levels of million-dollar transactions. As a result of her keen interest in the financial services industry, Lucian decided to focus on bringing the same high level of service and the pursuit of creating value for her clients by beginning a career as a financial advisor. She quickly became recognized for her efforts and had her weekly television program on investment planning. Over the past 20 years, Lucian is proud of the recognition she received for her experience and knowledge in financial planning. She earned the designation of Certified Financial Manager from Merrill Lynch Financial Planning College and was profiled in Registered Rep., a national publication for investment representatives. In November 1999, Lucian joined Prudential Securities and, in 2008, transitioned to Raymond James as a First Vice President, investments. In 2012, Lucian passed the curriculum and examination necessary to be designated Investment Management Consultant.
In 2018, she was awarded the designation of Accredited Investment Fiduciary, AIF®, by the Center for Fiduciary Studies. Lucian’s hard work and determination in achieving professional accomplishments match her determination on the Wellington show circuit. Her goal of competing on the East Coast was fueled as a junior rider in California when her parents wouldn’t send her back East to compete as many of her barn friends did. This setback motivated her tremendously, and throughout adulthood, she worked hard and set a goal to compete back East one day. Now, each time Lucian steps foot on an airplane, her sense of self-accomplishment is something she is proud of. Lucian’s trainer, Keri Kampsen, would agree that Karen puts forth her best efforts consistently. Kampsen is highly respected by Lucian and views her as an idol. She shows Kampsen her dedication to the sport by riding as often as possible, giving her best during practice, and always presenting herself as professional as possible. “When I go to the ring, whether schooling or showing, each ride, I try learning the most I can from Keri. She is amazing and talented, and I am fortunate to ride with her. I always want to ride my best and ride well not only for myself but for Keri because I want her to be proud of me,” Lucian said. “Riding is a sport that others can view riders as less than because of their weight, age, or because of their riding level. There are so many reasons not to ride or compete, but I love riding and competing. I feel like I can contribute to making shows more inclusive for others like myself,” Lucian said.
February 2021 THE PLAID HORSE
SPOTLIGHT: KAREN LUCIAN
“There are so many reasons not to ride or compete, but I love [it]. I feel like I can contribute to making shows more inclusive for others like myself.” —KAREN LUCIAN Lucian also shows her dedication to Kampsen by flying to Florida from California year-round and weekly during show season. Constant flying might seem unappealing to others, but Lucian loves it. Her childhood dream of competing on the East Coast and having clients in Florida, also, is now her reality. “It is hard work, but I am so grateful for everything. It is a long 13 weeks flying back and forth from Florida to California during show season. I take a red-eye on Wednesday night after work, and I am planning for practices the next few days with Kampsen. In between practices, I am working, and then after showing on Sunday I fly back to California. I love being able to show back East and have clients on both coasts because it has been a childhood dream of mine,” Lucian said. Lucian explains that show venues in Wellington are well organized, which helps older riders stay safe. She appreciates tremendously how the management goes above and beyond to create an atmosphere where older riders like her can be safe and confident while competing. “The South ring in Wellington is full of older riders like me. The managers do an excellent job making it safe, -which lets riders in my division have a great time and not feel pressured by younger riders. I love it,” Lucian says. Wellington’s management creates a relaxing atmosphere by monitoring who is riding with the older riders. Not allowing jumpers into the south arena or letting little kids blaze around on ponies helps reduce the chances of a mishap in an inherently dangerous activity, and Lucian is grateful for their contribution. KAREN LUCIAN AND TRAINER KERI KAMPSEN
“Back in the day, I rode at Flintridge Riding Club, and they used to call any rider over 30 years old a fossil over fences. Back then, thirty was considered an old rider. The sport has evolved so much over the years. You used to show in the 3 foot 6 inches to start or stay home, and we showed Thoroughbreds, too, which were much different from the Warmbloods now. However, now riding is more inclusive for everyone, all levels and capabilities, and I think that is wonderful,” Lucian said. Lucian shares stories of injuries sustained while riding, and despite her mishaps, her love for riding never dwindled. “After a serious riding injury, you think about it often and hope it does not happen again. It is life-changing.” Lucian said. Lucian rides at multiple farms including the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, in San Juan Capistrano, California. Lucian rides with an instructor, Janelle, and together Lucian has worked hard building confidence in her riding. “Janelle taught me horses can emotionally feel everything we transfer to them. I am riding on a horse’s spine, she once said. If someone was riding on my spine, I could feel them, too.
FULFILLING HER DREAMS
Being blessed with clients on both coasts, competing on the East Coast, and having great health is a gift. Lucian’s hard work and perseverance paid off even if it took years to accomplish. Lucian has been the Wellington Equestrian Festival Circuit Champion and High Point Champion of the South Florida Hunter Jumper Association in her division for three years riding three different horses. “That was hard work, of course. Getting up early East Coast time for practice, but in reality, I am still on West Coast time, and exhausted; however, I am determined to give my all.” Lucian’s love for competing has skyrocketed with her horse, Clear Advantage. The pair may not soar over Grand Prix fences, but Lucian is proud of their accomplishments. Lucian’s horse Clear Advantage, his barn name is, Frenchie, fitting as he was imported from France. Frenchie’s fan base has grown since his video debut on Tik Tok this past Christmas. “I couldn’t fly back East, and Keri made a video of Frenchie wrapped up as a Christmas present. Keri mentioned Frenchie was so well behaved the entire time wrapping him from head to toe in wrapping paper. Frenchie has over 280,000 likes from the video!,” Lucian said. “I love Frenchie, and I appreciate him so much. I am fortunate to be living the life I have dreamed of as a child.” Karen has really enjoyed working hard to achieve her goals. If you are interested in setting some goals or developing a financial plan, feel free to give her a call at 949-734-2239 or visit her website for more information at – raymondjames.com/karenlucian. Raymond James & Associates, 660 Newport Center Dr., Suite 570 Newport Beach, CA 92660. Raymond James & Associates, Inc., member NYSE/SIPC The Investment Management Consultant title is awarded to those who complete the Raymond James Institute of Investment Management Consulting program.
76 THE PLAID HORSE February 2021
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