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Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation

2018 STALLION AND BREEDING GUIDE A Foal of Your Own? Read Before You Breed What the Dressage Judge Is Really Thinking (p. 18) Carl Hester Symposium Report (p. 22)

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USDF Salutes the 2017 USDF Breeders Championship Series Competitors Recognizing quality bloodlines and dressage prospects across the nation.

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28 38


Dreaming of breeding your mare? Read our primer on the process first.

4 INSIDE USDF Adult Amateur Equitation

6 RINGSIDE Staying out of the Gene Pool

By Kim MacMillan


Should you ride during your pregnancy? Dressage-riding moms weigh in. By Amber Heintzberger

By Sue Mandas

By Jennifer O. Bryant

14 FREESTYLE CONNECTION Don’t Stop the Music

By Janet “Dolly” Hannon

18 THE JUDGE’S BOX What Do Dressage Judges Really Think?

By Marilyn Kulifay

22 CLINIC Learning from a Modern Master

By Cara Klothe

26 ALL-BREEDS CONNECTION Spotlight: Curly Sporthorse International


8 10 27 44 46 46 47

42 REVIEWS All About You


By Jennifer O. Bryant

48 THE TAIL END Horses Build Bridges


By Rebecca Cord

ON OUR COVER Photo by Amy Dragoo/Arnd.nl.

Volume 19, Number 7


December 2017/January 2018


inside usdf



Adult Amateur Equitation Polish your skills for this exciting new championship program



18120 Snyder Road, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023 (216) 406-5475 • vicepresident@usdf.org


with subtle and effective aids is near and dear to my heart. I have always believed that the horse ends up being a reflection of the rider, and a rider who sits to one side and leans back or tips forward when sitting will tend to always create the same problems. I remember being very excited about the US Equestrian rider tests when they first came out. The tests—USEF Training Level Rider, First Level Rider, and Second Level Rider—focus on the rider’s correct and effective equitation instead of on the horse. The rider tests have not caught on the way we had hoped, being a bit challenging for the levels intended. However, the directive ideas and the guidelines for the collective marks on the backs of the score sheets are really a must-read for all riders. As a judge, the rider who sits well with the movement of the horse and in balance and applies effective and quiet aids is a joy to watch. I hope that all adult amateurs will consider qualifying for and competing in this new and exciting program! s

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By Sue Mandas, Activities Council Director ressage-seat equitation classes are for kids, right? Not at all! Dressage-seat equitation has always been open to adults, and now there is a great reason to consider entering an equitation class if you are an adult amateur. I would like to draw attention to a new USDF program: the USDF Regional Adult Amateur Equitation Program. Beginning in 2018, an Adult Amateur Equitation Regional Final class will be held at each of the nine Great American/USDF Regional Championships, giving adult amateurs another championship in which to compete. Qualifying for these championships is simple—but as in all dressage, not necessarily easy. You can qualify in one of two ways: By riding in a dressage-seat equitation class at a USEF-licensed/ USDF-recognized dressage competition and earning a score of 70 percent or better By qualifying to compete in any Regional Championship class (excluding freestyles). In order to participate in the USDF Regional Adult Amateur Equitation Program, the rider must be a USDF participating member and an adult amateur (duh!) according to US Equestrian; the horse owner must be a USDF participating or business member; and the horse must have a USDF lifetime horse registration. Memberships and registrations must be in place when the qualifying score is earned and at the time of the Regional Final class. Qualifying periods coincide with the qualifying periods for the corresponding Great American/USDF Regional Championships. And you don’t have to qualify on the same horse you ride in the championship. The whole concept of rewarding and encouraging a correct, balanced seat



Trainers Conference February 6-7, 2018 Main Arena at the

Adequan® West Coast Dressage Festival Del Mar, CA

with Johann Hinnemann

For attendance criteria, registration, curriculum, and travel information, visit




Staying out of the Gene Pool Not every mare deserves to be a mom

The Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Stephan Hienzsch 859/271-7887 • stephh1enz@usdf.org

——— Editorial——— Second, there are lots of mediocre horses in the world— animals with so-so conformation, talent, or temperaments. Some horse breeding is truly indiscriminate, with mating decisions based on such trivial criteria as color or markings, and some of the resulting offspring have, unsurprisingly, health or soundness problems. Even in the sport-horse world, with its licensings and inspections, there are “meh” individuals. I love my mare, but she is not exceptional. More significant, she has a conformational issue that, in hindsight, may have predisposed her to the injury that ended her career. After a tough, clear-eyed evaluation of Miss Dee’s strengths and weaknesses, I concluded that she doesn’t really need to be in the gene pool. Although the dressage world needs breeders, I would rather see truly solid, talented, sound, sane horses serve as breeding stock rather than individuals whose own failings ended their careers. Had Miss Dee’s retirement come as the result of an external event, such as an accident, I’d feel differently. But in her case I think pasture puff is the appropriate path, even if I get a little wistful when I visit my sweet-natured girl and feel sad for what I lost and for what might have been.

Jennifer O. Bryant, Editor @JenniferOBryant

6 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION


Jennifer O. Bryant 610/344-0116 • jbryant@usdf.org CONTRIBUTING EDITOR


Melissa Creswick (CA) Margaret Freeman (NC) Lisa Gorretta (OH) Anne Gribbons (FL) Terry Wilson (CA)


Janine Malone Lisa Gorretta • Elisabeth Williams


Emily Koenig 859/271-7883 • ekoenig@usdf.org


Karl Lawrence 859/271-7881 • klawrence@usdf.org


Danielle Titland 720/300-2266 • dtitland@usdf.org USDF Connection is published ten times a year by the United States Dressage Federation, 4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511. Phone: 859/971-2277. Fax: 859/971-7722. E-mail: usdressage@usdf.org, Web site: www.usdf.org. USDF members receive USDF Connection as a membership benefit, paid by membership dues. Copyright © 2017 USDF. All rights reserved. Reproduction of articles requires permission from USDF. Other text may be reproduced with credit given to USDF Connection. USDF reserves the right to refuse any advertising or copy that is deemed unsuitable for USDF and its policies. Excluding advertisements, all photos with mounted riders must have safety head gear or USEF-approved competition hat. USDF assumes no responsibility for the claims made in advertisements. Statements of fact and opinion are those of the experts consulted and authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or the policy of USDF. The publishers reserve the right to reject any advertising deemed unsuitable for USDF, as well as the right to reject or edit any manuscripts received for publication. USDF assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. All materials must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Questions about your subscription or change in address? Contact USDF Membership Department, 859/971-2277, or usdressage@usdf.org. POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO: USDF, 4051 IRON WORKS PARKWAY, LEXINGTON, KY 40511. Canadian Agreement No. 1741527. Canada return address: Station A, P.O. Box 54, Windsor, Ontario N9A 6J5.



hen I retired my mare, Diamond, a few years ago after a prolonged and ultimately unsuccessful effort to rehab an injury, the most frequent question I got was: Are you planning to breed her? The curiosity was understandable, and the idea was tempting. Miss Dee was (and still is) a nice mare: a pretty, papered Oldenburg with an endearing temperament, three good gaits, modest success in the show ring at the lower levels, and a proven record as a broodmare who’d produced one foal before she and I crossed paths. She was in her prime when she became a pampered pasture puff, and so it was entirely reasonable to assume that she was still capable of conceiving and carrying a foal. As I was mulling the decision, a handful of people expressed interest in buying or leasing Miss Dee as a broodmare. But no one was serious enough to follow through, and so the choice to breed became mine alone to make. I ultimately said no. Here’s why. First, although breeding a beloved mare can be a fulfilling experience for the first-timer—as dressage judge and rider Anne Moss recounts in this month’s cover story, “A Foal of Your Own” (p. 28)—there are no guarantees of success. I know another first-time small breeder whose hopes and dreams for her talented, well-bred, friendly colt were dashed by a series of freak accidents. Coming down from my rose-colored vision of a lovely, gifted foal, I reminded myself that a lot can go wrong between conception and that first thrilling ride aboard one’s own homebred mount—and that if it did, I could wind up saddled, if you’ll pardon the expression, with not one but two pasture ornaments.




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member connection Heads, Necks, and Bridles Our October cover photo produced a dichotomy of sorts. USDF’s Facebook page lit up with criticisms that the horse appeared “fearful,” “in pain,” or worse. Some posters found it disturbing that the horse had white foam around his mouth and that he was sweating, with raised veins visible on his head and neck. Yet we received few letters from USDF members on the subject, and the communiqués we received were wider-ranging in nature. Those letters follow. I really appreciated the articles about caring for the horse’s head and neck in the latest issue (“The New Breed of Bridle”; “Horse-Health Connection: All About the Neck”; “Clinic: Contact Explained,” October). It is hard to find a picture of the ideal

as described. It is hard for the rider to see what is happening to the head and neck, even with a mirror. To me, the horse on the cover of your October issue looks uncomfortable, with too many wrinkles at the throatlatch. Contrast the facial expression of the horse on the October cover with the horse on the September cover. I think that German Olympian Ingrid Klimke is leading us in the right direction with her teaching about often giving with the rein. There is a video online that shows Ingrid giving often during a Prix St. Georges test that earned a score of over 73 percent. She even dared to pet the horse during the test! The horse looked as if he was supple in the neck as well as in the back. Greer Pomeroy Duanesburg, NY I have been riding my horse in a “comfort” noseband for over a year, and I was curious about the research


and discussion being presented. The article was very well done. While looking at the lovely horse wearing a comfort noseband on the cover, I was mystified as to why the snaffle cheekpiece is not buckled. I did not find any notation why it might be unbuckled. Can someone address this for me? Marian P. O’Brien Downers Grove, IL Marian wasn’t the only USDF member to pose this question. In fact, the snaffle cheekpiece in the photo is buckled, but atop it is secured the throatlatch strap, which otherwise would be flapping because the throatlatch has been removed. The bridle in the photo appears to be of a conventional design whose original cavesson has been replaced by a “comfort” model that has a second, rearward strap under the jaw and can be used without a throatlatch. I just read one of your articles on the biomechanics of the neck. I am an equine massage therapist, an anatomy instructor, a horse lover, and a Saddlebred owner. I have recently switched both of my Saddlebreds to dressage. The change has been a complete blessing. My horses are happier, healthier, and more focused. Thank you for all you do to inspire and educate! Simat Whipp Clarinda, IA

IN THE NEXT ISSUE • 2017 USDF yearbook: Awards, results, photos • Live from Lexington: On the scene at the US Dressage Finals and the 2017 USDF convention

8 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION

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Your Dressage World This Month


National Champions Crowned at Lamplight


he nation’s top dressage horses and riders in seven divisions, plus top youth dressage equitation riders, vied for honors at the 2017 Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse Dressage National Championships, held August 25-27 at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL.

Markel/USEF Six-Year-Old. Ravenna, an Oldenburg mare owned and ridden by Andrea Woodard, Wellington, FL, won the championship title on an overall score of 8.1. The reserve champion was Flyby FLF, a Hanoverian stallion owned by Linda Sommer and ridden by Werner Van Den Brande, Royal Palm Beach, FL (7.9). Finery, an Oldenburg stallion owned by Anne Howard and ridden by Michael Bragdell, Colora, MD, was third on 7.6. Markel/USEF Five-Year-Old. Alyssa Doverspike, Wildomar, CA, topped both tests to win the title aboard her Hanoverian gelding, Darius 555, with a overall score of 7.74. The Hanoverian mare Quintess, owned and ridden by Judy Kelly, Clarkston, MI, was the reserve champion on 7.68. In third with 7.63 was the KWPN gelding Habanero CWS, owned and ridden by Craig Stanley, Madera, CA. Markel/USEF Four-Year-Old. Alice Tarjan, Frenchtown, NJ, won both the champion and reserve titles with her own Serenade MF, a Hanoverian mare bred by Maryanna Haymon (overall score: 8.46); and her own Oldenburg mare Fairouz (8.19). Kimberly Dougherty, Cazenovia, NY, was third with her Oldenburg mare, Celebration (8.02).


USEF CHILDREN CHAMPION: Abby Fodor rode the Quarter Horse/ Haflinger gelding Slip and Slide to the inaugural title

AGCO/USEF Young Rider. Rebekah Mingari, Louisville, KY, rode Kerrin Dunn’s mother-and-daughter mares, Allure S and Elzarma TF, to the YR champion and reserve titles, respectively. Mingari and Allure S, a 12-year-old

10 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION


Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix. Cesar Parra, Whitehouse Station, NJ, rode Fashion Designer OLD, a nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding co-owned by Martin Sosnoff and the rider, to an overall score of 67.300 percent. The reserve champion was Freedom, a 10-year-old Oldenburg stallion owned by Dr. Anne Ramsay and ridden by Patricia Becker, Wadsworth, IL (66.680). Adiah HP, a 10-year-old Friesian/Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Sherry Koella and ridden by James Koford, Lexington, NC, was third on an overall score of 66.362. Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges. Anna Stovall, Chesapeake, VA, rode Frankie, an eightyear-old Hanoverian mare bred and owned by Catherine Haddad-Staller, to the championship with an overall score of 70.076 percent. The reserve champion was the seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding Lucky Strike, owned by Max Ots and ridden by Endel Ots, Wellington, FL (69.821). Placing third was Rosalut NHF, a seven-yearold Oldenburg gelding owned by Nikki Taylor-Smith and ridden by Carly Taylor-Smith, Malibu, CA (69.411).


Dutch Warmblood, topped the leader board on an overall score of 69.474 percent. Then riding the eight-year-old KWPN Elzarma TF, Allure S’s daughter via embryo transfer (by UB40), Mingari was reserve champion on 68.202. The third-placed YR was Anna Weniger, Apex, NC, on Don Derrick, a 13-year-old NRPS gelding owned by Anna’s mom and trainer, Dawn Weniger. AGCO/USEF Junior. Isabel Linder, Kewadin, MI, earned an overall score of 68.961 percent to win the Junior Dressage National Championship aboard Elvis, a 13-year-old Westfalen gelding owned by Hai Wei. The reserve champion was Kayla Kadlubek, Fairfax Station, VA, riding her own 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Freewill (67.526). Third was Juliet Hess, Atlanta, GA, on Diano, a 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Julia Stainback (67.237). USEF Children. Abby Fodor, 13, Bloomsbury, NJ, swept the division to win the inaugural USEF Children Dressage National Championship aboard Slip and Slide, Marie Fodor’s 14-year-old Quarter Horse/Haflinger gelding. Beatrix Leggingwell, Lake Villa, IL, rode Luke Skywalker to the reserve title; and Madison Waller, Beaumont, TX, was third riding Waller Farms’ nine-yearold Lusitano gelding, and Diablo DC (64.592). USEF Pony Rider. Suzannah Rogers, Atlanta, GA, dominated the competition with her 14-year-old Haflinger gelding, Adrenaline Rush SBF, to win the championship with an overall score of 63.976 percent. The reserve champion, Jori Dupell, Wilsonville, OR, said she never expected to make it to these championships with her 17-year-old halfArabian gelding, Toy Story. Dupell has had Toy Story, who is blind in one eye, all his life. They finished on an overall score of 63.639. Placing third was Sailor Boden, Canyon Lake, CA, on Blitzwane, a 19-year-old German Riding Pony gelding owned by Susan Hoffman-Peacock (62.783). USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals. In the 13-andunder division of these national youth dressage-equitation championships, Camille Molten, Mount Pleasant, SC, won the gold medal riding Magnito II, a 10-year-old Welsh Pony-cross gelding owned by Heather Valentine, to a score of 89.000 percent. Molten trains with Michelle Folden. The silver medalist was Kasey Denny, Hutto, TX, on Feyock, a 20-year-old Westfalen gelding owned by Denny’s mom, Amy Lynn Denny (88.000). Kasey trains with her mother and Michael Dumas. Averi Allen, Pleasant Hill, MO, who trains with her mother, Whitney Allen, won bronze riding Celtic Grace, a 14-year-old Friesian Sport Horse mare owned by Bobbi Wojtowicz (87.000). Isabel Gregory, Dallas, TX, a student of Benny Pfabe, won the gold medal in the 14-to-18 Dressage Seat Medal Final with a score of 88.000 percent on a borrowed horse, Leslie Barker’s nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, Atoftens Cherick. Another borrowed mount, Fontane, an eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Denise Cole, carried Caroline Garren, Atlanta, GA, to the silver medal (87.000). Garren trains with Karen Lipp. The

DRESSAGE SEAT MEDAL FINALS: 13-and-under equitation champion Camille Molten on the Welsh Pony-cross gelding Magnito II

14-to-18 bronze medalist was Abigail Fleischli, Dallas, TX, trained by Yvonne Kusserow, riding Laguna, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by the rider (86.000).



December 2017/January 2018



Your Dressage World This Month



James Mandala

ames “Jimmy” Mandala, dressage ring steward and facility manager of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (GDF) in Wellington, FL, died October 31 at a hospice in Easton, MD, after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 48.

LOVED BY ALL: Mandala and friend

According to Mandala’s wife, the FEI-level dressage trainer/ competitor and US Equestrian “R” dressage judge Anne Cizadlo, he had served as the GDF’s facility manager since its opening in 2012. One of the first to earn FEI Level 1 steward licensing, Mandala worked at CDIs (FEI-sanctioned dressage competitions) ranging from the GDF to the

US Dressage Festival of Champions in Gladstone, NJ, and the Rolex Central Park Horse Show in New York City. Born in Massepequa, NY, Mandala moved with his family to Missoula, MT, where he and his brother and sister spent most of their childhood. The family lived on a small farm, and Mandala grew up riding. The family owned a bakery, and “this is where Jimmy started his love and skill for baking,” Cizadlo recalled. Moving back to the East Coast as a young adult, Mandala worked as a barn manager and groom at various facilities. In 2007 he relocated to the Midwest, where he met the late dressage-show manager Lloyd Landkamer and began to work at many of Landkamer’s competitions, including the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. Said Cizadlo: “Jimmy lived and breathed the horse industry. He put his whole heart into his job, day after day. He knew literally everyone who came onto ‘his’ facility, as he called it, and knew every horse that rode in ‘his’ ring. He was always quick to help anyone who needed a hand and could solve literally any problem that arose.”



Not the Average “Equestrian” Ad

he “equestrian look” in advertising and fashion is usually some non-rider’s notion of what horse people wear. So we were pleasantly surprised to see this image of a dressage rider in a Fidelity Investments financialservices ad in the September 25 issue of Time magazine. Somebody behind the camera must know

the sport, for the props look to be on point, from the dressage saddle and bridle down to the plaid full-seat breeches. OK, the model has impractically flowing long hair, but the silvermaned woman looks more like a real rider than the typical fashion model—and besides, she actually looks old enough to be a Fidelity client.

12 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION

Andreas Stano, DressageClinic.com


ob title: Executive director, DressageClinic.com, Vancouver, BC What I do: We have an information-technology (IT) team, a full-time staff taking care of the videos, and customer-care service e-mailing our members to answer questions. We check on show schedules and make sure our in-house videographers have WORLD TRAVELER: a busy schedule. How I got started: Stano Prior to the equestrian industry, I was in the live-entertainment world and in book publishing prior to that. In 2002, an IT developer and I were building a website for the classical-music industry when we heard that streaming-video technology had come about on a commercial level. Best thing about my job: A member writing or calling to tell us how much they value DressageClinic.com and how beneficial it is to them.  Worst thing about my job: Having to travel to small towns and villages in Holland and Germany for filming, when I arrive at night and there is no one in sight. I have to wake up the hotel owner to come down in his pajamas to unlock the room, and then the room is very cold because the heat isn’t on. That is hard. My horses: I don’t have my own horses any more. I ride for ClockTower Farm, a warmblood dressage breeder in British Columbia. In the 1970s and ’80s, I did jumpers. Tips: People tell us that they watch a training video in the morning, and this sets them up to ride better. Pony Club does cookie parties with a featured video from DressageClinic. com as the event of the night. —Katherine Walcott




What you need to know this month L Graduates: Continuing Education Now Required BEGINNING IN 2017, USDF L graduates and L graduates with distinction will be required to complete eight hours of judge-specific continuing education. Graduates who meet the continuing-education requirements will be listed on the USDF website. The following types of continuing education will meet the criteria: • Scribing with USEF “R” or “S” judges • USDF CE programs • USEF Judges Clinics • USDF convention meetings (Judges, L Program, and Freestyle Committee open forums; Judges Committee closed sessions; L Program education) • Auditing or participating in Part 1 of the L program • US Eventing Association-hosted eventing-judge training programs with a focus on dressage, if taught by USEF-approved judge instructors for dressage or by L faculty members • L Program In-Depth Study, available on eTRAK (2 hours) A continuing-education report form is available under Forms on the L Education Program page of the USDF website. Report continuing education to lprogram@usdf.org, and send any questions to this address.

Attention, 2017 Awards Recipients AWARDS NOT PICKED UP at the 2017 Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet will be mailed to award recipients at the end of December. Please contact the USDF office if you have not received your award by January 30, 2018.

National Education Initiative Deadline Approaching The next deadline for USDF groupmember organizations (GMOs) to submit an event/grant application is January 1 for events to be held after April 1, 2018. Contact USDF if you need help completing your application.



Mary Mahler, Haslet, TX



ary Mahler Highlight of is a USDFthe Instructor/ certified Trainer Program: I instructor/trainer, really appreciated Training through the rigor and Fourth Levels, who’s high demand on working on earning sound theory and her USDF gold medmethodology. al. She is based out of Training tip: both her home and Look at the USDF Flower Mound Farm, recommended STUDENT OF DRESSAGE: Mahler Flower Mound, TX. reading list, and I wanted to learn the riding become certified because: I felt it was and training theory! If you really want important as a professional to meet a depth of knowledge and understanding, standard of performance beyond success you must go beyond what you learn in a at shows. After successfully completing lesson program. the USDF L program, certification Contact me: maryemahler@att.net or through the Instructor/Trainer Program (817) 439-1254. was a logical next step. —Jamie Humphries USDF CONNECTION

Ramsay Grants to Be Offered Again in 2018


he Dressage Foundation, Lincoln, NE, announced in October that its $25,000 Anne L. Barlow Ramsay Grants will once again be available beginning in 2018. The grant, which was first awarded in 2008, provides funding for US citizens to train and compete talented American-bred horses in Europe. Applications for the next $25,000 Anne L. Barlow Ramsay Grant are due on or before October 25, 2018. Learn more and download the application form at dressagefoundation.org.

December 2017/January 2018


Don’t Stop the Music

Whether it’s too loud or fails to play at all, we have answers to your music-related show-day freestyle dilemmas By Janet “Dolly” Hannon


echnology is great—until it doesn’t work. Today’s dressage freestyles utilize a lot of technology, from creating the digital music file to getting that file to play properly over the show’s sound system. Inevitably, problems arise. Here is the USDF Freestyle Committee’s guide to letting the music play—and advice on how to handle a music hiccup.

JUST PRESS PLAY: Make sure your freestyle music works when you need it most

Do… …check the sound levels. Have your music recorded on a compact disc (CD) for which the sound levels have been checked and adjusted, or leveled. If pieces of music are recorded at different volume levels, the result may be unsatisfactory. …save the music in either WAV or WMA format. Do not submit your music in MP3 format because this format may not be compatible with a DVD player; in addition, MP3 quality may not be as good.

…bring the CD with you to the show. Do not e-mail the music file or ask the sound person to download your music from your phone or a memory stick. (Some competitions may offer this, but you must follow US Equestrian rules in case of a music failure.) Per US Equestrian rules (DR 129.6), freestyle music must be presented on a CD, and you must have a backup handy in the event of a music failure. (For more on the freestyle rules, see “Important US Equestrian Rules for Freestyle Riders” on the facing page.) …attend the sound check. You’ll be able to make sure that your music can be heard in all parts of the ring. …make sure that it’s not played TOO LOUD! Many competitors request a volume level that is so high that that the music becomes distorted. Overly loud music also makes the judge’s job impossible; we cannot assess your music accurately when we’re having to shout at the scribe in order to be heard. I’m not exaggerating; this has happened to me several times. …use entry music. You’ll be able to ensure that the right music is playing, and at the correct level. Entry music also sets the tone or theme of the freestyle to come. Before you enter the arena, if the music is too loud or too soft, signal the sound person to adjust it up or down—or better yet, have a helper in the sound booth who knows your music and how loud it should be. (Note: Although entry music is permitted, “exit music” after the final halt is not allowed.)

Show-Time Troubleshooting Freestyle-related problems require quick thinking and sometimes a bit of improvisation. Here are some com-

14 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION


mon “oops” scenarios and how to handle them. If you are about to enter the ring and the wrong music begins to play: Do not enter the arena! Signal the sound person and inform him or her that it is not your music. When you are sure that the correct music is cued up, raise your hand and start over. If the music fails, a power outage occurs during your ride, or you cannot hear the music: Stop and talk to the judge. Request to come back when your backup CD is tested successfully, and finish your freestyle ride at that time. Don’t assume that the judge will be aware of the problem. I have seen instances in which a CD skipped ahead and left out part of the music, but it wasn’t obvious to the listener. Unless you tell us otherwise, we will assume that your music is playing correctly. The Freestyle Committee has heard reports that, in the event of a music failure, judges have asked the competitors to finish without music, and they would score what they had seen already. This is an OK solution if the ride is almost finished, but it is not acceptable if the competitor is less than halfway through the ride, or if the judge has not heard the music for all three gaits in a lower-level freestyle. You have the right to finish to your music. If your music fails, you may either start over at the beginning or pick up at the point where the music failed; inform the judge of your preference. Show management will tell you when to come back for your re-ride, usually during a break or at the end of the day. Either way, know that scores already given stand and will not be changed. If you have a question for the judge or a question about the scoring: You may request, via the show’s technical delegate (TD), to speak with the judge. The score may not be changed, but you may get an explanation that will help you in future competitions. If you received a zero (0) for a movement and know that you per-


freestyle connection

Important US Equestrian Rules for Freestyle Riders By Sharon Vander Ziel, USDF Freestyle Committee staff liaison


SDF-level freestyles (Training through Fourth Levels) follow US Equestrian dressage rules. Most of the freestyle rules are under DR 129, Musical Freestyle, in the USEF Rulebook (online at usef.org). Key points to know: • Music is to be presented to competition management on a CD at least two hours prior to the start of the class. • Sound checks must be provided to freestyle competitors at no charge, either on the day prior to competition or prior to their scheduled class. The requirements and timetable for scheduling sound checks must be published in the prize list. • Each rider is permitted one representative in the soundsystem booth to supervise the handling of the CD if so desired by the competitor. • If the music fails before or during a freestyle test and in cases where there is no backup system, the rider may, with permission of the judge at “C,” leave the arena or start at a later time, either during a scheduled break in the competition or at the end of the competition. The rider may decide whether to restart the test from the beginning or to commence from the point at which the music failed. Judging must restart at the point of interruption. In any case, marks already given will not be changed.

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freestyle connection


Freestyle Failures: Advice from an Announcer and a TD

also happen that, in trying to create unique choreography, freestyle competitors “hide” movements at the “A” end of the arena. Another possibility is that the choreography did not show

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practice CD instead of the finished CD, and submitting the CD just 15 minutes before the class. Unfortunately, some competitors do not pay attention to the rules concerning choreography—especially which movements may be included and which are forbidden at the level—when they create their freestyles. Finally, I occasionally see a competitor who does not take responsibility for the above issues as the responsible party. Competitors must read the rules and understand what to do if their music fails. —Janet “Dolly” Hannon

enough of a movement to fulfill the requirement (e.g., the required 20 meters of consecutive walk was broken into two sections). If you realize during your ride

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formed it, talk to the judge, again via the TD. Judges are human, and it’s possible we missed the movement. (“Instant replay” using video is not admissible evidence, however.) It can

music or damaging the speakers. To prevent mixups, make sure that your CD has only one track on it: your freestyle music. Don’t submit a practice CD. Have a backup CD close by in case the original fails. Lisa says: Failure to attend the sound check is a common reason for problems. I’ve also seen competitors make the following mistakes: giving a defective CD or the wrong music to the announcer, CD poorly labeled or unlabeled (your music CD should be labeled with the horse’s name, rider’s name, competitor number, class number, and freestyle level), providing a

photo by John Borys


ressage-show announcer Nicho Meredith and US Equestrian dressage technical delegate Lisa Gorretta (who’s also an FEI steward and USDF’s current vice president) have seen plenty of music failures and other technical glitches in their careers. They share their experiences and advice. Nicho says: If a music-related problem arises during the ride, it is frequently the case that the competitor did not attend the sound check. Some competitors want the music played at too loud a volume. I often have to adjust the sound level as a result, to avoid distorting the

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that you left out a required moveselections between gaits and for the ment: Try to squeeze it in before the changes between paces (variations music ends. Failure to show a rewithin a gait). quired movement will lower both the If you get ahead of the music: technical and the choreography scores Ride deeper into the corners to take as well as the degree of difficulty, up more time, or half-halt and wait for depending on what was omitted. If the next musical cue. As a last resort, you can, put an extra diagonal in your add an extra circle, which will be choreography near the end of your scored, to allow the music to catch up. freestyle; you can use it to ride any Regardless of whether you’re ahead forgotten movements, or to repeat an of or behind the music, make your earlier movement that had mistakes transitions when the music changes. in it. The judge does not know your choreIf you get lost and forget your ography, so try to adapt and wing it. choreography: Try to figure out And always try to time the final halt where you are so that you do not get correctly; it looks bad to be standing turned around and repeat movements there, waiting for the music to end, or in the same direction. As a judge, I to have the music stop before you do. have seen competitors get confused Both affect the impact of your finale and do two canter pirouettes in the and constitute the final impression of same direction; they didn’t realize your freestyle the judge receives. 
 they had done so until they saw their test sheets. Let the Rules Help You Learn the music well enough that you know what should happen Riding a freestyle is so much fun when and where, and try to always hit if it goes well. Many competitors USDF-Connection-Dec2017-Jan2018-JS-AG-20171016OL.pdf 1 be 10/16/17 4:39:57 PM your musical changes, both for the find freestyle to a creative way to

express their love for their horses and the sport of dressage. On the flip side, the experience can be a miserable one if your music fails, you can’t hear it, or you lose track of where you are in your choreography. Know in advance what to do if and when problems arise. Please read the freestyle rules, and take responsibility if there an issue. The Musical Freestyle section of the USDF website (under Competition / Programs) contains several downloadable resources, including a Checklist for Freestyle Riders and Musical Freestyle Rules, Guidelines, and Definitions. Direct any questions to musicalfreestyle@usdf.org. Best of luck with your freestyle! s Janet “Dolly” Hannon, of Arvada, CO, is a US Equestrian “S” dressage judge and the chair of the USDF Freestyle Committee. She placed ninth in the 2016 Adequan®/USDF First Level Musical Freestyle year-end standings on her mare, Electra.

Fit is Everything.

USDF CONNECTION • December 2017/January 2018


the judge’s box

What Do Dressage Judges Really Think?


of judges’ comments and their raison d’être. The competitor can review the test sheet and immediately apply the feedback to upcoming tests, use it in the training at home, or both.

In short: We want you to succeed! Here’s what judges want competitors to know.

Equine Partnerships Are Works in Progress

By Marilyn Kulifay

Judges recognize that every horse and rider are a work in progress. Unlike your trainer, though, the judge does not know how much you have improved or what obstacles you have overcome. Although judges are sympathetic to these struggles, they are obligated to submit an objective and dispassionate assessment of the snapshot in time that is your dressage test. Tests offer judges a window into the rider’s training methodology and where the horse and rider are in the training continuum. Consider the judge’s marks and comments a guideline for potential progress, not as final judgment.


dressage judge’s task is a complex one. The judge is expected to evaluate a performance critically, yet without being critical. To judge each horse-and-rider pair individually against a defined standard that results in a consistent and final ranking of multiple pairs. And to provide expert and valuable reasoning for the scoring in five words or less, spaced about 10 seconds apart! Contrary to many riders’ perceptions, the relationship between judge and rider is not meant to be adversarial. The judge is actually on the rider’s side, and the scores and comments are intended to help riders understand what they need to do in order to improve their skills and move up the levels. Judges want riders to know that

they understand and recognize many of the dilemmas that riders face. So what do judges really think as they’re watching your tests? Read on to find out.

A Test Is One Moment in Time Judges can see and comment only on what is presented during the test. They judge your performance against a standard—the fundamentals of the pyramid of training—and give an opinion of your status based on that particular ride. That’s why, although you may feel you just had the best ride ever, you may still be in the “satisfactory” (6.0) category as compared to the standard. Riders may not know what they don’t know, especially if they are new to the sport. Therein rests the value

If You Do Your Homework, It Shows If your horse is tense and worried in the warm-up, it is highly unlikely that he will suddenly become more relaxed in the show ring. Similarly, it is unrealistic for riders to expect to get more from their horses at a show than they can get in practice in familiar surroundings. Preparation at home and in the warm-up is essential to a successful dressage test, especially because rider tension complicates the attempt to show the horse’s suppleness and throughness. Becoming comfortable and familiar with the fundamentals and basics of the test movements at home will help to produce greater relaxation and success at the show.

18 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION


THINK INSIDE THE BOX: When riders understand judging methodology and showing in general, dressage competition becomes less mysterious

Check out podcast 166 where two USEF judges talk about freestyle problems and judge responsibilities at usdf.podbean.com.


Podcast Alert

Know Thy Rules The US Equestrian dressage rules describe what’s desired in the various gaits and movements relative to the pyramid of training. Riders who know the purpose of the tests and the directives typically have a better understanding of what the tests require, are more confident, and consequently have a competitive edge. Judges become skeptical when a competitor evidently has no clue as to what is required. Riding the pattern without consideration of the purpose, directives, and collective marks is a recipe for a poor performance. The rules also cover equipment, attire, warm-up, and how a dressage show is run. Understanding when and where you need to be, being familiar with permitted equipment, and learning what tack and dress are appropriate are basic knowledge that’s easy to acquire simply by taking time to read and understand the rules. Doing so can prevent costly mistakes and unnecessary mishaps—and again, can give you a competitive edge.

in Second Level Test 1, the medium trot and the transitions in and out are two separate scores.

The Basics Are the Most Important Part of the Test Judges want to see correct basics— and the basics relate to the collective marks, which are awarded at the conclusion of the test. In every test movement, the judge is evaluating you in relation to the collective marks:

• The gaits—their rhythm and what they look like • Impulsion, energy, and “forward thinking” • Submission, connection, and lightness • Rider’s position • Rider effectiveness and aids. The collective marks constitute a summary of the overall test. The judge is evaluating such factors as: • Were the walk, trot, and canter performed with pure gaits, or did the

Know Your Test Even if you use a caller, know your test inside and out, backward and forward. That way, you can focus on the flow and fluidity of the test rather than simply going from movement to movement in a disjointed fashion.

Geometry and Accuracy Matter Accurate figures and movements help in presenting a fluent test. Work out where movements should begin and end. Know where to place circles and how big they should be (for my easy way to learn to ride accurate circles, see the sidebar on page 20). Reminder: Movements and transitions that occur at the letter should happen when your torso is at the letter, except for coming across the diagonal. Going to the wrong letter costs points or can even be scored as an error. Be aware that some transitions are judged within the movement being demonstrated. For example, the trot lengthening at First Level includes the transitions within the score. However,

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the judge’s box Lunge Your Way to Accurate Circles


ou’ll need an empty arena, a helper, and a lunge line. Have your helper hold one end of the lunge line. Unmounted and holding the “horse” end of the lunge line, make a circle around your helper. Adjust the length of the line so that you’re describing 20-meter circles, 15-meter circles, and 10-meter circles, placing them where they are ridden in your tests. Take note of the circle geometry relative to the arena letters so that you see where the lines of travel should be. Then mount your horse and trace your footprints, following the circle patterns, to get the feel and perspective of the circle geometry while riding.

horse have “a hitch in his giddy-up”? • Was the horse forward-thinking with a supple back and elasticity in his steps? • Was he attentive, confident, elastic in the rein connection, light on his feet, and in balance? • Did the rider maintain a correct posture without leaning forward, back, or to the side? • Was the rider effective and kind with the aids without pushing, pulling, or throwing the horse off balance?

Be Fair to Your Horse Judges like to see riders who enhance their horses’ ability to perform the tests. Kicking, nagging, pulling the reins, disrupting the horse’s balance, and making abrupt movements do not enhance a judge’s opinion of the riding. Getting angry or frustrated with a horse shows a degree of lack of self-awareness. When this happens, looking in the mirror would be a better exercise than taking it out on your horse. To avoid some of these less-flattering moments:


• Prepare your horse before each movement, and find the areas in which preparation will increase his balance and performance. Strive to produce connected, fluid movements. • Understand that there are no “blank spaces” in the dressage test. You are being evaluated constantly, even when the judge does not have the best vantage point, so don’t get sloppy and think those movements (or lack thereof) go unnoticed. • If your horse makes a mistake during the test, keep riding every stride and never give up, even if you feel flustered and frustrated. The test is not over until the final salute. Learn to salvage a not-so-great ride by capitalizing on whatever is possible so that you end on a positive note.

Perceived Breed Bias Dressage judges are trained to evaluate competitors according to the pyramid of training. Therefore, every horse, regardless of breed, is to be


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judged using the same criteria. Any sound, healthy horse can do dressage because dressage, performed properly, can improve a horse and its way of going. The dilemma is that certain breeds of horses may not be as suited to the sport, or as capable of scoring highly, because of traits involving conformation or way of going, and thus may not be as suspended, supple, or “through” as horses with a natural propensity for this type of movement. Regardless of breed, all riders must analyze their mounts’ conformation and movement, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and make adjustments in training to compensate for shortcomings and to maximize performance. This process can be difficult for beginning riders, as they themselves are still learning the basics. It may be that a dressage professional can compete a horse with some conformational or gait challenges and score quite well, while a beginning rider may struggle to compete the same horse at its maximum poten-

tial—but this holds true for every horse-and-rider combination, regardless of the horse’s breed.

We Wish You the Best What do judges most want competitors to know? That we want you to have a good ride and a positive experience. We also want the horse to have a positive experience. Contrary to many riders’ perceptions, judges love to reward riders with high scores, but only if they are earned and based on the pyramid of training. We truly want competitors to succeed, and we hope that the observations we provide can help you to attain a higher level of training and a better overall picture. As a wise judge once said, “We’re rooting for you.” s Marilyn Kulifay is a USEF-licensed dressage judge and a member of the USDF Judges Committee. She chairs the USDF Region 9 Judges and L Graduates Committee. She lives in Texas, where she enjoys riding dressage. 

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A NEDA symposium demonstration rider’s takeaways from British Olympian Carl Hester By Cara Klothe


n his first trip to New England, 2012 British Olympic dressage team gold medalist Carl Hester regaled more than 1,000 spectators with his wit and training insights. Hester is entertaining, to say the least, with his kind, relatable approach to bettering both horse and rider.

PROMISING FUTURE: Demonstration rider Cara Klothe and the four-year-old mare Dhanube, owned by Rolling Stone Farm (PA)

Hester headlined the 2017 New England Dressage Association (NEDA) Fall Symposium, held October 14-15 at the beautiful Pineland Farm in New Gloucester, ME. Spectators and riders alike relished the unseasonably warm and delightful

weather, with beautiful autumn foliage adding to the stunning property and surrounding area. Fourteen horse-and-rider combinations, ranging from a four-year-old to solid Grand Prix horses, served as demonstration pairs over the symposium’s two days, with some coming from as far as Maryland and Ohio for the chance to ride with the famed trainer. A different four- and five-year-old was featured each day, with the remaining group of older horses working both days with Hester. The selectors did an excellent job of choosing horses that not only could perform the levels competently, but also represented a wide variety of “real life” training issues. Hester brought to light problems that can crop up in horses of all levels and in all training programs. I had the distinct pleasure of being selected to ride in the symposium. My mount was Maurine “Mo” Swanson’s four-year-old mare Dhanube (Destano x Londonderry/Wolkentanz II), who is a fifth-generation product of Mo’s breeding program at her Rolling Stone Farm in Slatington, PA. “Danni” is an exceptional young horse who had a stellar year competing at Training Level, with scores of as high as 82 percent. Dhanube will eventually become part of the broodmare band at Rolling Stone Farm, but until then I’m lucky to get to ride this awesome horse. Although the drive from Pennsylvania to Maine was very long, both Mo and I jumped at the opportunity to ride with such a master of dressage and a longtime idol of mine. When the demonstration riders

22 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION

Training Young Horses Hester is very kind and straightforward in his approach to training young horses. He stressed the importance of not working them too hard or too often. In his yard in England, he said, young horses are only worked a few times a week for about 20 minutes. They hack and spend time outside the arena, as do all of his other horses. Hester had both four-year-olds warm up in a stretching frame in walk, trot, and canter, urging us riders to stretch the necks as much as our horses’ self-carriage would allow. In my ride on Sunday, he commented on the overall high quality of Danni’s gaits, noting her elasticity and regularity. The mare does, however, sometimes lose balance in the canter, and for this Hester had me bring her into a working frame and ride transitions from trot to “almost walk” and back to trot. When I felt the connection to her hind legs, I would then ask for the canter while staying a bit out of the saddle to enable Danni’s back to stay up in the canter transition. Hester stressed that the transition into canter is more important for the mare’s training than staying in the canter for too long. Like most horses, Danni tends to be heavier on one rein (in her case, the left rein) and too light in the other. Hester had me counterflex her to the right in order to get a better feeling in my right rein and teach her to turn left by closing up the right side. After Danni’s good reactions to both the transition and the straightening work, we ended by letting her stretch so that she finished the session completely


Learning from a Modern Master

first met with Hester the evening before the event began, he joked that he doesn’t sleep at all the night before he teaches one of these big symposiums. He was not the only one up tossing and turning the night before! Although the thought of riding in front of 1,000 spectators and one of my dressage idols was enough to give me mega-butterflies, once I threw a leg over my perfect chestnut mare, most of my nervousness melted away.


SWEET DEAL: Clinician Carl Hester poses with NEDA president Phyllis LeBlanc (whose day job is CEO of Harbor Sweets, maker of Dark Horse Chocolates, a NEDA sponsor)

relaxed. As he watched Danni walk on a long rein, he commented on the high quality of her walk but urged me to follow her neck straight out, not downward, in order to bring out the best quality in her walk and swing over her back.

During the symposium, Hester guided the demo riders through many exercises. While the exercises changed depending on the needs of the horse and rider, several common themes emerged that can be applied to any horse.

Hester is a big believer in stretching horses. Both during the symposium and in his regular training at home, he said, he keeps the sessions short and sweet, with the emphasis on stretching and relaxing. He had all of the demo riders warm up and cool down in a stretching frame in order to build relaxation that will carry forward to the next ride. In the stretching work, Hester emphasized two major points. First, stretching must be done in a safe manner. If a horse is hot and nervous, it is best to work for a bit and then stretch in order to achieve relaxation. Stretching is counterproductive with a nervous horse if it puts the rider in danger. Second, horses must stretch in self-carriage. It does a horse no good to stretch while racing around on the forehand, Hester said. By keeping the strides under control from the rider’s seat, the rider is able to influence the horse into a balance that will most



© John Borys Photography

www.usdf.org USDF CONNECTION • December 2017/January 2018




up into the halt with their hind legs. This exercise may seem very basic, but it made a huge difference in the horses’ way of halting. Hester highlighted the importance of halts in dressage training: There are two and sometimes three halts in every test, and the halt is a movement for which every horse can score well.


effectively elasticize the horse’s back in the stretch instead of allowing the horse to get flat and quick.

Transitions With all horses and at all levels, Hester had every demo rider do more transitions. He challenged one rider to estimate how many transitions she rides in a single stride. He stressed not only the importance of riding more transitions, but also the quality of those transitions. Riding sloppy transitions does no good, he warned. He cautioned riders to be very picky about every transition “even if no one is watching.” Transitions, Hester explained, are not just forward-and-back transitions within a gait or between gaits; they also include bending and straightening. A transition, he said, is anything that changes the horse’s balance and prepares him for the next movement. Whether it was Danni doing transitions within a gait or a Grand Prix horse alternating between passage and piaffe, the importance of using transitions in every ride, every day is a huge factor and bridge for training horses up the levels.

Accuracy We are taught the importance of accuracy in riding figures, corners, and movements, but so often accuracy goes by the wayside in our schooling at home. Hester has a fabulous eye for spotting every inaccuracy. He quipped often that it’s a good thing he’s not a judge because he would be “very mean,” he said. Hester had a great exercise for riding corners correctly. Since most horses just “cruise” through the corner without bending and collecting, he had the riders trot into the corner, halt, and then turn on the forehand toward the wall and trot out to the next corner. After doing this a few times, when the rider trotted through the corner, the horse was much more balanced and bent through the corner, carrying weight on its hindquarters rather than “motorcycling” through the turn. In the same vein, Hester tested the halt in several horses, noting that many did not halt square. He remedied this by having riders halt through the walk, making the walk quite small and ensuring that the horses stepped

24 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION

A “Bucket List” Event This article delves into only a small amount of Hester’s teachings. I am so grateful to be able to have been able to watch him teach and train because he is a true horseman. I would urge anyone who has the chance to watch Hester in person to do so. He is entertaining and kind, with an impeccable


PACKED HOUSE: Prix St. Georges/Intermediate I-level demonstration pair Adam Steffens on Zikomo De Grand rides in front of 1,000-plus spectators at the NEDA Fall Symposium

Hester is a stickler for correct riding position. Dressage riders tend to keep their legs too far back, he said. The result: They pitch forward, causing them to lose the mobility in their seat. Although some people are built with more arch in their backs, they need to remedy that by paying extra attention to their riding position and by doing appropriate exercises, he said. During the NEDA symposium, the topic of leg position came up with several riders. Working on passage with one Grand Prix horse, Hester was very picky about the position of the rider’s leg so that there was a clear difference between passage and piaffe aids. Leg position was also a teaching point when it came to the one-tempi flying changes. The horse was getting tense in the first few one-tempis, and Hester said it was the result of the rider’s leg moving a bit too much and startling the horse. To remedy this, Hester had the rider drop her stirrups in order to gain better control of her leg in the changes. The horse became less tense in the tempis as a result, but then the rider had difficulty getting more than a few one-tempis. Hester was very kind and encouraging that the improved leg position would help the horse’s changes in time and not to panic about the mistakes.

eye. I have been able to take many of the exercises and teachings back to my own horses and students at home. The NEDA symposium organizers did an amazing job. Events and scheduling ran smoothly throughout the weekend, and all of the volunteers and organizers were helpful and kept the entire event running like a well-oiled machine, which I can only imagine is no small feat! Participating in this symposium was truly an honor and certainly a check off my own bucket list. I am grateful to NEDA for hosting such a wonderful weekend of education and thankful that Carl Hester made the

time to help educate us all. I’d also like to thank all of the riders for putting their horses forward to help us all become better riders and trainers, as well as the owners of these wonderful horses for supporting the sport. Most of all, I’d like to thank Mo Swanson for allowing me to ride such a fun, willing horse. s Cara Klothe is the head trainer at Rolling Stone Farm, an Oldenburg breeding facility in Slatington, PA. She is a USDF bronze and silver medalist who is currently competing several RSF horses successfully at both the national and FEI levels.

WEEKEND TO REMEMBER: Klothe with clinician Carl Hester

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www.usdf.org USDF CONNECTION • December 2017/January 2018


all-breeds connection

Spotlight: Curly Sporthorse International

Curly-coated or smooth-, this unusual breed makes an ideal dressage mount


he most obvious and unique characteristic of the Curly horse is thought to be his curly coat, but even among smooth-coated Curlies there are traits that are common to the breed. Some people find Curly horses to be hypoallergenic. The breed’s kind, willing temperament makes it an excellent mount. Curlies tend to be smart and quick

learners. They are sensitive (in a good way) and tend to bond deeply with their riders. Curlies are generally “easy keepers” that stay sound through work, making them a great choice for juniors, adult amateurs, and “hobby riders” alike. Curly horses you might know: Spar Trek, the most successful Curly horse in American dressage to date,


has competed through Prix St. Georges. Among the Curlies currently coming up through the ranks are Draco (pictured), the 2016 Curly Sporthorse International (CSI) All-Breeds Third Level Open champion; Bold Adventure, the 2016 CSI All-Breeds First Level Open champion; and Mikato, the 2016 CSI All-Breeds Training Level Open champion. Curly Sporthorse International: CSI was founded in 2003 with the mission of dedication to training, recognition, improvement, and promotion of the Curly breed as a sport horse. CSI offers award programs to reward active Curly sport-horse breeders and riders. All-Breeds awards offered: For 2017: top three placings in the open, adult amateur, and junior/young rider divisions. How to participate: Horses must be CSI-registered. All Curly horses, including smooth-coated individuals and Curly crosses, are eligible for registration. Owners need to be current-year CSI members. Learn more: CurlySporthorse.org. s

A Celebration of Breeds

SMOOTH OPERATOR: The Curly horse Draco, owned and ridden by Luann Urban, Roseburg, OR

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he “All-Breeds Connection” column spotlights a USDF All-Breeds awards program participating organization and the breed it represents. Information and photos are furnished by the registries. The USDF does not endorse or promote any breed or registry over another. The USDF All-Breeds awards program is designed to reward the accomplishments of specific breeds in dressage, with recognition offered at the USDF Salute Gala & Annual Awards Banquet, and in the annual yearbook issue of USDF Connection. For eligibility requirements and a list of current participating organizations, visit usdf.org / Awards / All-Breeds.

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A Foal of Your Own Dreaming of breeding your mare? Read our primer on the process first. BY KIM MACMILLAN

THE DREAM: Many horse owners cherish the idea of producing a lovely and talented foal from a beloved mare, like this pair romping at Jean and Roy Brinkman’s Valhalla Farm in Wellborn, FL

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o a horse lover, no sight is more enchanting than a foal doing airs above the ground and trotting loftily beside its dam in a verdant pasture. If you’re a proud mare owner, visions of matching her with a top stallion and producing the perfect combination of the sire’s and dam’s best traits are the stuff that dreams are made of. Whoa there! Is this goal attainable for the first-time breeder? And what does it really take to get a healthy foal on the ground? To find out, we talked with two veterinarians, a foaling-barn manager, and five sport-horse breeders to get a “Breeding 101” introduction to this vast topic. We’ll touch on key steps in the process and offer ideas you can use to do further research.


Should You Breed Her? Considerations and Costs Perhaps the most important step in the entire breeding process is deciding whether your mare is a good candidate for breeding, and what you really want out of the process. You love your mare, but be brutally honest in evaluating her conformation, movement, temperament, and type. Seek unbiased opinions from reputable sport-horse experts— and be prepared to accept their input graciously. Tell your sources what you like and don’t like about your mare, as well as what aspects you hope the right stallion may be able to improve. Know that mares pass on their traits to their foals both through their genes and through their behaviors. Research has shown that foals inherit more genetic material from their dams than from their sires. What’s more, the way a mare nurtures and teaches her foal influences its emotional and social development. “Be careful not to breed your mare just to breed your mare,” says sport-horse breeder Cara Kettenbach, owner and operator of Broadfields 121 in Lagrange, KY, and North Andover, MA. “Make sure she is of quality. Not every mare should be bred without correct evaluation and guidance from other breeders and a veterinarian.” As a breeder, setting goals—and understanding the sport-horse market, if you have thoughts of someday selling the foal—are important. Jean Brinkman, a breeder of warmblood horses at her Valhalla Farm in Wellborn, FL, for more than 40 years, says that her experience as a rider and trainer taught her “the importance of good minds, comfortable backs, and competitive gaits.” She has strived to build “a people-friendly herd of mares: mares that like to engage with humans and, of course, have the attributes to produce foals that fit the market.” [


December 2017/January 2018


RESEARCH AND EXPERIENCE: California-based dressage pro and small breeder Merrie Velden showing the four-year-old Hanoverian gelding Lennox (Lemony’s Nicket x Florencio), owned by Kelly Anez, in 2017

additional costs may be involved. Breeding with frozen semen instead of fresh, or doing embryo transfer, also costs more. At a minimum, in addition to routine health care for the mare and foal, expect to pay for the stallion booking and stud fee; semen collection and shipping; veterinary services to monitor, breed, and check your mare throughout her pregnancy; shipping the mare to and boarding her at a breeding facility, a foaling facility, or both if you don’t plan to keep her at home; and a post-foaling and neonatal exam of the mare and foal. Talk with your veterinarian about the steps in the breeding process and what each will cost, and consult with your selected stallion’s owner or manager before you book to make sure you understand all of the things you will need to pay for in order to breed to that stallion.

Is She Sound for Breeding? Don’t spend any money on booking or stud fees before you hire a veterinarian specializing in equine reproduction to conduct what’s known as a breeding soundness exam (BSE) on your mare. According to Ellerbrock, a BSE “includes a general physical examination, with special attention paid to problems that would affect the mare’s ability to conceive, carry the foal to term, and successfully raise a foal.” A veterinarian conducting a BSE will check the mare’s reproductive system, her udder, and her general body con-

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Not every sport-horse breeder runs a large operation. FEI-level dressage trainer and competitor Merrie Velden, of Fresno, CA, has bred two foals to date and has taken both to inspections for evaluation. “Put lots of thought into it; this is a long-term commitment,” Velden says of the decision to breed. “If your mare is lame, and although she never made it as a nice riding horse you want to breed because you have never raised a foal, maybe that is not the best reason. If she wasn’t a great riding horse, or has questionable conformation, or you just want to breed so you can raise a foal, I don’t recommend it. Do it for the purpose of developing a nice foal.” “Owners that are breeding a mare for the first time should carefully consider the costs they are willing to accrue in the breeding process, as well as the risks they are willing to take with the mare foaling,” says Robyn Ellerbrock, DVM, Diplomate, ACT, assistant professor of theriogenology at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, Athens, GA. “Is the mare sound and in good health? Are the owners able to monitor the mare at time of foaling or willing to send her somewhere to foal out? Would a cesarean section be in the budget in the case of a dystocia [difficult birth]? How devastated would they be with the loss of the mare at time of foaling?” Producing a foal is not an inexpensive process. If your mare is a maiden (never bred), older, or has fertility issues,

Should Your Mare Become a Mom? Use Sport-Horse Breeder Judy Yancey’s Assessment Checklist



udy Yancey has owned and operated the sporthorse breeding business Yancey Farms, now in Fredericksburg, TX, for more than four decades. Here, adapted with Yancey’s permission from a pamphlet she wrote for the American Trakehner Association, SPORT-HORSE SOURCE: Experienced breeder Judy Yancey holds the 2014 KWPN/NA filly Jura YF (by Totilas) while longtime Yancey are her six steps in assessing a mare’s potential as Farms employee Antonio Lopez handles the dam, Finale (by Fürst breeding stock. Heinrich) 1. Establish the direction and goals for your breeding program. 2. Learn the conformation and physical traits a horse must possess to fulfill your breeding goals. 3. Determine the pedigrees of horses that display your desired traits by researching the sire and dam lines that produce the types of horses that meet your breeding goals. 4. Come to terms with your budget, and explore options to best spend your money and still achieve your breeding goals. 5. Research the marketability of the type of horse you want to produce. 6. Consider the factors that combine to make a good broodmare: pedigree; conformation and structure; femininity and mothering ability; character and temperament; constitution, hardiness, and soundness; reproductive capability and history; and movement (balance, suppleness, rhythm, and gaits).

dition, says Ellerbrock. Any abnormalities or signs of infection will be noted, as will the current stage of the mare’s her estrous (heat) cycle. A uterine culture will reveal any bacteria or other pathogens that may be present in the uterus. “Any mare with a history of subfertility, and most older maiden mares, should also have a uterine biopsy performed,” says Ellerbrock. “A biopsy is also a good idea in a prepurchase exam on a mare expected to become a broodmare. Biopsies are performed to diagnose uterine pathology and give a prognosis for a mare’s ability to carry a foal to term,” she explains. Ellerbrock advises mare owners to provide the veterinarian conducting the BSE with as much detail as possible about a mare’s health history and any breeding history, including vaccination records, a list of any medications, dates the mare was previously bred and the outcome of those attempts, and any chronic health issues. Your veterinarian may also recommend vaccinating your mare against equine viral arteritis (EVA), which can cause abortion. Some stallions are EVA carriers, so ask about your chosen stallion’s EVA status. A blood test will reveal whether your mare has already contracted the disease and therefore carries antibodies against it. In general, reproductive specialists want to see that a

potential broodmare is “orthopedically sound and in good body condition, but not obese. They should not have any history of laminitis or metabolic disease,” according to Ellerbrock. The BSE may sound tedious and is an added expense, but don’t skip this step, Kettenbach urges. “Make sure you are starting off on the right foot with no type of infection, and know everything is where it should be!”

The Search for Mr. Right Selecting a stallion to complement your mare takes research and observation. Seek advice from your trainer, experienced riders and breeders, and your veterinarian. Get to know the stallions you are considering as well as you can. Observe a stallion to get a feel for his temperament. Look up his show record and the inspection scores and show records of his offspring. Try to see his babies in person, and at least locate as many photos and videos of his offspring as possible. The stallion you choose for your mare should be strong in the areas of her weaknesses. Bear in mind, however, that genetics is tricky. One parent does not always “correct” the other’s shortcomings. But if both the stallion and the mare have, say, long backs, they probably will not produce a short-


December 2017/January 2018


HIGH STANDARDS: Broadfields 121 owner Cara Kettenbach with her homebred three-year-old colt Floristdanzo 121 (Floriscount x Sir Donnerhall 1)

Before you sign a breeding contract or pay any fees, read the fine print carefully and ask about anything you do not understand. One question to ask is whether the stallion is available for breeding by artificial insemination (AI) with freshly collected semen (either shipped or AI on the same farm) or by frozen semen or live cover. Discuss these options with your veterinarian to help you choose a method that is most likely to work well for your mare and your budget. Using frozen semen requires more precise timing than breeding by AI with fresh semen or by live cover, meaning that using frozen usually is the more expensive method. On the plus side, frozen semen makes available stallions from other parts of the world, thereby giving you more choices. Another question to ask the stallion owner or manager is when the stallion will be available for breeding. Some stallions are also shown during the breeding season or are shared between two breeding locations. If you expect to breed using shipped fresh semen or by live cover and the stallion is not available when you want to breed your mare, then you’ll have to check him off your list.

Introduction to Sport-Horse Breeding In North America, most mares are bred in the spring and early summer because they cycle more regularly during those times of the year with more daylight. The typical

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backed foal. Research has been done to indicate the heritability of certain equine conformation and performance traits. Some qualities are more easily improved in one generation than others, so look up the heritability of the aspects you hope to improve in order to be realistic in your goals. “There is a wealth of knowledge in European breeders regarding the predictability of a pedigree,” says longtime sport-horse breeder Judy Yancey. “Finding this information does take research and effort, but it is available through different sources and reputable breeders.” Consider your breeding goals, and pick a stallion that fits into those plans. Will you be keeping the foal as a future riding horse for yourself? If yes, then what is your level of dressage skill and experience? Do you have competitive aspirations? If you plan to sell the foal, is your target buyer an amateur rider, or are you hoping to produce a high-powered “professional’s horse”? “Some stallions are so gorgeous to look at, moving or in competition, but for producing horses for the average amateur they can miss the mark,” Brinkman cautions. “Even if they sire attractive offspring that are big movers, maybe they will not be suitable for an amateur rider.” “Learn bloodlines!” says Velden. “Ask questions and research. Find out what lines cross well. Don’t be ‘barn blind’; know the horses’ strengths as well as their weaknesses. Don’t breed just because you like the color of the stallion, for instance.”

First-Time-Breeder Success Story


nne Moss, Coatesville, PA, is a dressage and eventing enthusiast, a USEF “r” dressage judge, a former USDF Historical Recognition Committee chair—and the proud owner of a beloved mare and her homebred offspring. Six years ago, Moss decided to breed her Hanoverian mare, EMC Goodness Grace (by Graf Genius), for the first time. After a failed attempt at embryo transfer, Moss chose a local stallion, the Westfalen Florianus II (Florestan I x Damenstolz), who stands at nearby Iron Spring Farm, for an ultimately successful artificial-insemination effort. “The reason we bred to Florianus II,” Moss says, “is because all of his statistics: He got really great, high scores—eights and nines—for his trainability and personality.” Moss is happy with the resulting 2012 colt (now gelded), Flying Squirrel, whom she is now riding and training. She says of “Rocky,” “Now that he’s grown up, it’s really clear whose son he is because his mother is not particularly domesticated; she still has a bit of ‘feral’ left in her heart. This young horse really has the trainability of his father, so I got way more than I paid for.”



THE SIRE: Florianus II (Florestan I x Damenstoltz), owned by Iron Spring Farm

= THE DAM: EMC Goodness Grace (by Graf Genius), owned and ridden by Anne Moss

mare’s estrous cycle lasts 21 days, with the mare being out of heat for 14 days and in heat the other seven, ovulating toward the end of those seven days. But many mares don’t go by the textbook, and that’s why you need to work closely with your veterinary reproductive specialist, who will have you track your mare’s cycles on a calendar in order to determine when she comes into heat and for how long. Now, where will the breeding take place? At your mare’s home barn, or at a veterinary facility or breeding farm? Consider how much time and expertise you have to closely observe and manage the mare, and whether you have the facilities to handle the mare during the breeding process— a set of stocks for the mare to stand in for various exams and procedures, a “teaser” stallion or gelding, good lighting, electrical outlets to power the ultrasound machine and printer, and hot and cold running water. And although keeping your mare at home may seem like the less-expensive option, tally the costs of veterinarian call fees versus what you’d pay for board at a clinic or breeding farm before you make a decision. Keep in mind that those facilities are staffed with experienced employees, so the number of times

THE OFFSPRING: Flying Squirrel (pictured at age 5 in 2017), bred, owned, and ridden by Anne Moss

your mare has to be bred before she conceives may actually be fewer. Using frozen semen or doing embryo transfer generally requires intensive, round-the-clock management, and in most such cases the mare should stay at a clinic or breeding farm. (On the other hand, “Mares tend to settle in foal much more consistently in their home environment,” says Kettenbach, who manages 11 mares at the Broadfields 121 facility in Kentucky.) Two to four weeks after the breeding, depending on the pregnancy-exam method being used, your veterinarian will check your mare to see if she is in foal. Ultrasound, rectal palpation, and teasing may be used in some combination. Check your stallion breeding contract, and be sure to comply with its requirements regarding the reporting of a confirmed pregnancy. “We recommend ultrasounds at 14 days for initial diagnosis and at 25 to 30 days for heartbeat determination,” says Ellerbrock. “Most equine pregnancies losses occur before 35 days, but some will be lost after that, so we also recommend checking again at 60 to 70 days of gestation for further confirmation


December 2017/January 2018


of pregnancy and if fetal sexing is desired. Abortions after 60 days can occur with herpesvirus [equine influenza], placentitis, or fetal abnormalities but are relatively uncommon. Mares considered at risk for placentitis should be reevaluated by a veterinarian in the third trimester of pregnancy, around eight or nine months.”

The Happy, Healthy Mother-to-Be In general, a mare’s gestation period is 340 to 345 days, plus or minus 12 days, but anything ranging from 320 to 360 days could be considered normal. The length of a pregnancy can also be affected by the time of year that the mare is due to foal, her breed, and the gender of her foal, among others. Now that your precious mare is in foal, you may be tempted to overprotect her to keep her and her baby safe. But swaddling her in bubble wrap and keeping her in a stall for 11 months is not good broodmare management. It is important to keep a watchful eye on your broodmare, but also to let her “be a horse.” Assuming that your mare was at a healthy weight when she was bred, resist the urge to overfeed her; instead, focus on maintaining her body condition. The vitamin and mineral balance and other nutrients provided to the broodmare and her foal are very important. Ask your veterinarian and a university-trained equine nutritionist how your mare—and, later, her foal—should be fed. To some new mamas, the foal nosing around them for the first time is a bit of a shock, so accustom your mare to having her legs, flanks, udder, and tail touched.

The Big Day Draws Near Now it’s time to make another important decision: Do you want to foal out the mare yourself, or would you rather take her to a foaling station or a veterinary clinic for the birth? If you want to do it yourself, then do research as early as possible before foaling time comes to learn what you need to know. Even though a mare’s gestation period is approximately 11 months, do not wait until the last minute. Mares can foal as early as two or three weeks before their due dates and even go about a month late, so don’t count on the calendar to tell you when she will foal. Read everything you can about the foaling process and care of the mare and neonatal foal. Ask your veterinarian what to expect and for descriptions of emergency situations during foaling. Patrick McCue, DVM, PhD., Diplomate, ACT, professor and head of the Colorado State University Equine Reproduction Laboratory, Fort Collins, CO, recommends consulting with your veterinarian in preparing a “foaling kit”— items that may be needed at foaling time, from sterile gloves and lubricant to a foal blanket and iodine for the navel, and much more. Assemble your kit at least 30 days ahead of the mare’s due date.

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PREGNANCY CHECKUP: Broodmares require extra care. Equinereproduction specialist Dr. Robyn Ellerbrock performs amniocentesis to evaluate fetal fluids in a high-risk pregnancy.

Most mares can go barefoot during pregnancy unless the attending veterinarian and farrier advise otherwise. Correct hoof trims will help your mare remain comfortable as she carries the foal. “It is important to continue the mare’s annual veterinary care as you would if she was not pregnant,” says Ellerbrock, who recommends keeping her up to date on vaccinations, fecal egg counts and deworming, and dental care; vaccinating against EHV-1 (equine herpesvirus-1, aka rhinopneumonitis) at five, seven, and nine months of gestation; and administering annual vaccinations 10 months into the pregnancy to optimize the quality of the colostrum, the allimportant first milk. Exercise is equally important, says longtime broodmare manager Mae Jean Fichter, of Mae’s Way Farm, Lexington, KY. “Make sure that they are regularly turned out to get exercise, sunshine, and fresh air. Don’t overfeed them; that’s the worst thing you can do.” “Nothing is more disappointing than raising a foal that doesn’t pass the vet,” says Brinkman. “Bone chips and OCD [osteochondritis dissecans] lesions are not uncommon from injury, but bilateral chips or lesions are more often hereditary or diet-influenced,” she cautions—another reason to make sure you’re feeding your mare the right things in the right amounts.

And stock up on straw: Even if you don’t regularly bed on straw, don’t use shavings or sawdust in a foaling stall, at least until the foal’s navel stump is completely healed. If you’d rather put your mare in expert hands for the big day, plan to get her to the facility “at least seven to 14 days prior to the due date to allow for acclimation to the new environment,” says McCue. “This way, the mare begins to develop immunity to local pathogenic organisms, and the antibodies will be passed to the foal in the form of colostrum.” Kettenbach advises: “Send your mare to a foaling station if you are not prepared to foal her out. Many things can go wrong very quickly.” Even though her husband, John, is a small-animal veterinarian, dressage judge and first-time breeder Anne Moss, Coatesville, PA, chose to take her Hanoverian mare, EMC Goodness Grace, to nearby Iron Spring Farm for the foaling. “[Iron Spring owner] Mary Alice Malone has been a friend of mine for years,” says Moss, “so I asked her if I could just send the mare there to be bred [to Iron Spring’s Westfalen stallion Florianus II], and if I could send her back a couple of months before she was due to foal so they could foal her out there. The staff is very knowledgeable and just really smart, so the mare was in the best hands there rather than being at home with me, who had never foaled a horse out.”

As “the time” approaches, Fichter watches broodmares closely, taking turns with her farm manager doing foal watch so the mares are monitored 24/7. (Cameras in the foaling stalls are a big help, she says.) After Fichter sees a mare’s water break, she goes into the stall and wraps the tail to keep it clean and out of the way during the birth. She then leaves the stall but keeps a close eye on the mare throughout the rest of her labor and delivery. “I’m not one to go in and turn the lights on and bother them all night,” Fichter says. “The more that you can just leave them alone, the better.” One exception: “If the mare lies down too close to the stall wall, I get them up and move them away from the wall.” A critical moment in the delivery process is noting the foal’s position as it begins to emerge. “They should be coming out with the bottoms of the foal’s front feet pointing toward the stall floor,” Fichter says, “and you should see both front feet and then a nose. Once I see that, I am OK to leave them alone and just observe.” The umbilical cord normally remains attached until the mare’s or foal’s movements break it naturally, Fichter says. When the cord breaks, she applies iodine to the foal’s navel

stub, then gives the foal a Fleet enema while it is still down. Then she watches and waits for the foal to rise on its shaky legs, find the udder, and nurse—ideally, up within an hour of birth and nursing within two to three hours. She ties up the placenta so it doesn’t get stepped on and torn before the mare passes it; it’s important to ensure that the mare passes the entire placenta because pieces of retained placenta can lead to laminitis or a uterine infection. Most mares deliver their foals just fine without our help, but as with human births, things occasionally go wrong and require swift intervention. According to Fichter, red flags include abnormal presentation (foal positioned upside down, twisted, or breech—with the rump and tail presenting first) and placenta previa, aka “red bag,” in which the outer placental membrane separates prematurely from the uterine wall and the foal can die from lack of oxygen. (So called because of the telltale color of the membrane protruding from the mare’s vulva, “red bag” is an emergency requiring immediate opening of the placental membrane and a vet visit stat, according to McCue.) Another neonatal emergency is “dummy foal” syndrome: The foal is lethargic, may lack a nursing reflex, and seems

Podcast Alert



Foaling Day

MILESTONE MOMENT: Every breeder breathes a sigh of relief when the foal stands and nurses successfully

Listen to Dr. Karen Wolfsdorf speak on infertility in the mare and problems during pregnancy on episode 141 at usdf.podbean.com.


December 2017/January 2018


unaware of its surroundings, according to Fichter. Summon a veterinarian promptly; dummy foals usually require hospitalization if they are to survive, she says.

Give Your Foal the Right Start

THE RESULT: With good care and a little luck, the breeder will be rewarded with the sight of a happy, healthy dam and foal, like this Trakehner pair getting some exercise at Mae’s Way Farm in Lexington, KY

Your beautiful brand-new foal is nursing its loving dam in the quiet stall. The months of watchful waiting are over, but mother and baby need continued veterinary care. After she confirms that a foal is nursing well, Fichter schedules a neonatal exam for the foal and a post-foaling exam for the mare, usually within the first 12 hours of the foal’s life. The veterinarian will test the foal’s blood for the crucial antibody IgG (immunoglobulin G) and will check the foal’s vital signs and general condition. The mare will be examined to make sure she came through foaling well and that she passed all of the placenta. Keep a close eye on young foals and post-foaling mares for the first month or so, Fichter advises, as life-threatening conditions can happen to either, and the time to act is very short. Scours (diarrhea) are common in foals during the mare’s “foal heat,” which usually commences six to eight days post-foaling, but are a sign of trouble at any other time. Other red flags are swollen joints; a swollen, hot, or dripping navel stub; a foal struggling to breathe, urinate, or defecate; a foal that ceases to nurse; and a mare that goes off her feed or becomes reluctant to move.

By: Indicates who fathered the foal; meaning fathered by the stallion (sire) Colostrum: The “first milk” produced by mammals right before and after giving birth; it is generally higher in protein than the subsequently produced milk and, if of good quality, provides critical antibodies to the foal when ingested Cover: The physical act of the stallion copulating with the mare Dam: Mother of the foal Damsire or dam’s sire: Maternal grandfather of the foal Dummy foal: A foal that is maladjusted and often premature; dummy foals often have no nursing instinct and are lethargic and disoriented Dystocia: Difficult birth Estrous cycle: The recurring reproductive cycle in many female mammals, including estrus (heat), ovulation, and changes in the uterine lining Gestation: Pregnancy Heritability factor: A number used to express the likelihood of a trait’s being passed on from a parent to its

offspring Lactation: The act of producing milk Maiden mare: A mare that has never been bred or given birth Neonatal: Newly born Out of: From the mother; indicating who is the mother (dam) of the foal Parturition: The act of giving birth Placentitis: Inflammation of the placenta Red bag delivery: Formally known as placenta previa, an abnormal condition arising during delivery in which part of the placenta detaches prematurely from the uterine wall, thus reducing or eliminating the exchange of nutrients and oxygen to the fetus still inside the mare Settle: Conceive Sire: Father of the foal Tease: The act of presenting a mare to a stallion to test her reaction, to help determine whether she is coming into heat Theriogenology: The branch of veterinary medicine concerned with reproduction

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Glossary: Basic Breeding Terminology

Tiny Foals, Big Dreams As the old racehorse-breeder saying goes, breed the best to the best, and hope for the best. Even longtime breeders never stop dreaming, but they’ve learned to temper their hopes with a dose of reality. “Don’t expect the foal to be all that you want,” cautions Brinkman. “Try to understand the best skill for the foal. It may not be a dressage horse, and that [dressage] was your goal. It may not jump the moon, and that was your goal. Accept that each foal is an individual, with its own skills and desires.”

“Not everything goes according to plan. Bad things happen to all breeders,” adds Velden. “Breed for high expectations, but don’t be disappointed when it isn’t that ‘wow’ factor. Not every foal is going to be exactly what you want—but then once in a very blue moon, you get something really special. Those are the moments breeders dream of. Every foal is a gift.” s Photographer and journalist Kim MacMillan and her husband, photographer Allen MacMillan, own and operate Loon Creek Enterprises, an 84-acre equine breeding facility and grain farm in northeastern Indiana.

Digital Edition Bonus Content

Here’s a selection of online reference materials offering tips on breeding, broodmare care, and foaling. Go to our digital edition for direct links. American Association of Equine Practitioners vaccination guidelines “AQHA: Should You Breed Your Mare?” from the American Quarter Horse Association “As Foaling Season Is Underway, Know the Three Stages of Labor in the Mare” from the Colorado State University Equine Reproductive Laboratory “Basic Horse Genetics” by Cindy McCall, Extension Specialist, Auburn University “Care of the Broodmare” by Scott Madill, DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota “Care and Vaccination of the Pregnant Broodmare” from Select Breeders Services “Expectant Mare: Assuring the Health and Well-Being of the Pregnant Mare” from the American Association of Equine Practitioners “Feeding the Broodmare for the Health of the Foal” by Ed Kane, PhD, DVM360 magazine “Feeding Foals and Young Horses,” series of articles on TheHorse.com “Feeding Management of Broodmares” by Peter Huntington, Kentucky Equine Research, Versailles, KY “Feeding Young Horses for Sound Development” from the Texas Cooperative Extension Service, Texas A&M University “Foaling Checklist” from the Equine Reproduction Laboratory at Colorado State University “Foaling Mare & Newborn: Preparing for a Safe & Successful Foal Delivery” from the American Association of Equine Practitioners “Foaling and Predicting Foaling Time” from the Ontario (CAN) Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs “Horse Owner Guide to Foaling and Foal Care,” PowerPoint presentation by Dr. Patrick McCue, Colorado State University “It’s All in the Genes: Horse Traits and Heritability” by Dr. Nancy S. Loving, from TheHorse.com “Know the Stages of Mare Labor” by the Equine Reproduction Laboratory at Colorado State University, from TheHorse.com “The Mare: Breeding Soundness Examination and Reproductive Anatomy” from the University of Kentucky Extension Service “Mare Breeding Soundness Examination” by Christine Schweizer, DVM, Diplomate, ACT, from TheHorse.com “Parturition in Horses” by Patricia L. Sertich, MS, VMD, Diplomate, ACT, from the Merck Veterinary Manual “Preparing Your Mare For Breeding” from Select Breeders Services “The Real Costs of Breeding Your Mare” from Equine Legal Solutions, PC.


December 2017/January 2018


Should you ride during your pregnancy? Dressage-riding moms weigh in. BY AMBER HEINTZBERGER

To Ride or Not to Ride? FEI-level dressage pro Silva Martin, 37, who co-owns Windurra USA in Cochranville, PA, with her husband, Olympic eventer Boyd Martin, rode until she was seven months pregnant with their son, Nox, who was born in September 2015. She had sustained a traumatic brain injury in a riding accident in March 2014, so she was careful about riding only horses that she trusted during her pregnancy. “If something is naughty I won’t ride it, but I’m really careful since my head injury anyway,” Martin says. “It does cross my mind that I need to be careful. Boyd was also looking out for me, and if something wasn’t quiet enough he’d make me get off. He rode some of them, and the girls who work for me kept them going. So the horses had their normal day, except I was teaching the girls instead of doing the riding myself.” It was an incident on the ground that made Martin step aside for the last two months of her pregnancy. She was loading a young horse on a trailer when he pulled her

38 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION



o the average woman, riding during pregnancy may seem a high-risk proposition; but for many dedicated female equestrians, there is little question that at least part of their pregnancies will be spent in the saddle. Because riding is a high-risk sport, the official word from medical professionals is that women should stay out of the saddle during pregnancy (although many doctors and midwives are actually OK with it, as long as the woman is an experienced equestrian who was riding regularly before becoming pregnant). According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, “Recreational activities with increased risk of falling, such as gymnastics, horseback riding, downhill skiing, and vigorous racquet sports, have inherent high risk of trauma in pregnant and non-pregnant women.” Even some professional equestrians, however, elect to hang up their spurs for all or part of their pregnancies. In this article, we’ll meet four dressage enthusiasts who share their stories of juggling impending motherhood with the desire to stay in the saddle as long as possible.

backward. Because of an eye problem from her head injury she can’t see on the right side, and she hit her head on the bucket of a tractor parked nearby. “I was unconscious and spent a night in the hospital, and it was kind of scary; they said if I’d fallen backwards the baby could have been harmed. So I stopped riding then until after Nox was born,” Martin recalls. It’s not just pros who keep riding as long as they feel comfortable. Amateur rider Sara Hobbs, 30, of Whately, MA, has two children, ages four and six. An “A” Pony Clubber, Hobbs has evented but opted to stick with dressage while she was expecting. Like Martin, Hobbs continued to ride through her pregnancies, each time stopping in the second part of her third trimester. As her pregnancies progressed, she did more hacking out than training: “You can’t do too much when you’ve got a beach ball in front of you!” she says with a laugh. Other mothers-to-be take a more conservative approach. Germantown, MD,-based dressage pro and USDF L Education Program graduate Hilary Moore Hebert, 36, who gave birth to son James in 2015, did not ride after her first trimester. “I stopped because I wanted to. I didn’t think the risk was worth it,” Hebert says. “There’s always the risk of falling off, but the more I talked to people, they said they put on weight and their balance changed, so they felt they weren’t that helpful to their horse. I’m not a doctor, but I was also worried about the constant downward pressure on the supporting anatomy that holds everything up in your body. You have to ask if it’s worth the risk. For me personally, the answer is no.” During Hebert’s pregnancy, horses began to act differently around her, she says. “People talk about dogs treating people differently, and I had horses that behaved differently. Horses seemed cautious, and it felt different. Then I felt more cautious and even a touch nervous on some of the horses. By coincidence, my competition horses were the ones that started to feel ‘funny,’ and they were the most important horses.” As a former event rider, Hebert has always been safetyconscious, wearing a helmet before it became standard in the dressage arena, she says, noting that this tendency contributed to her decision to stop riding. “I was already at a stage in my riding career when I started thinking about the calculated risks of things. The only guarantee, for myself, was to stop riding,” she says.


Doctors on Board Dr. Melissa Delaney, Silva Martin’s obstetrician, has had a lot of horse people as patients, Martin says. Add the fact that Delaney’s own daughter is a hunter/jumper rider, and the doc was comfortable with Martin’s continuing to ride while she was expecting.

STEADY EDDIE: This aptly named horse—one of Boyd Martin’s eventing string—was the type of mount Martin’s wife, Silva, rode during her pregnancy

“My doctor never said ‘Don’t ride,’ because I’ve been doing it my whole life,” Martin says. Similarly, the team of midwives associated with Hobbs’ local hospital, who attended to both of her pregnancies, also were OK with Hobbs’ saddle time—again, because Hobbs is an experienced equestrian who had been riding regularly before she got pregnant. “They didn’t see it as more dangerous than driving a car,” Hobbs says. (Admittedly, “Motor vehicle crashes account for four of five deaths that occur among unborn babies of pregnant women who experience trauma,” according to the Journal of the American Medical Association—so clearly some risk is involved.) Hebert says her doctor, like Martin’s and Hobbs’, was also supportive: “I have a group practice where there are six OBs who work together, so you never know who will be on call. In that practice, they all said to do everything you were doing before; just don’t do anything new.” Still, Hebert was “concerned about the daily effects of riding with the extra weight and that it would alter the way I rode, and my body physically from riding while pregnant. I don’t know how much people have studied that because it’s such a small sport, but it would be interesting to know how many [riders] have pelvic prolapse” and similar complications. At the 2017 California Dressage Society and Great American/USDF Region 7 Championships in September, Frankie Thieriot Stutes, 31, of Occidental, CA, rode Chatwin to the Third Level Adult Amateur reserve championship, and to third place in the CDS Third Level Horse of the Year adult-amateur competition. She was 32 weeks pregnant with her second child, a boy. Stutes also competes Chatwin in advancedlevel eventing, and at the time she was also still jumping once a week. Stutes’ longtime doctor is the mother of an event rider, she says, and as a result “she’s never been unsupportive. But


December 2017/January 2018


Stutes, who owns and operates an equestrian-sports marketing company and who also recently launched a line of handbags, evented until she was six and a half months pregnant with her first child, son Drake, now age two. The second time around, she says, she felt more tired. “This time, I felt like I got run over by a Mack truck. Lifting buckets around the barn and stuff, I just don’t have the same strength.” The normally slender and athletic Martin put on a lot of weight during her pregnancy, she says. “I don’t think I ate any different, but I always eat a lot; I just wasn’t as active. The good news is, I lost it all pretty quickly after I had Nox!” Her brain injury left Martin with balance issues, which her pregnancy exacerbated, she says. “I was a lot bigger, obviously, and I had a pretty easy pregnancy; but I couldn’t really get that much done, so to take a break was kind of nice.”

MAMMA MIA! Baby bump and all, adult-amateur competitor Frankie Thieriot Stutes won the 2017 Great American/USDF Region 7 Third Level AA reserve championship aboard her horse, Chatwin

I went in once and she wasn’t there, and I was in my riding pants, and I got a full-blown lecture from the doctor who was working that day. My doctor never felt like there was a tremendous risk to the baby, but she did caution me to take care of myself because I’m the baby’s lifeline.”

Physical Changes Growing a human being can be exhausting: Women gain weight, their blood pressure changes, their center of gravity shifts, and their energy levels may drop. Not to mention the nausea that comes with morning sickness, aversion to foods and smells, heartburn, or the inability to find a comfortable sleep position with an ever-expanding belly. “I won’t sit the trot any more, but jumping is completely fine,” said Stutes, who was 32 weeks pregnant at the time of our interview. “The thing that I have a hard time with [when I ride] is actually the pressure it puts on your bladder; that is really uncomfortable for me. That’s honestly the worst part about riding; canter is a little better, but trot is really difficult. Your core is basically gone, and your legs don’t work as well as they do naturally, so you really have to think about putting your leg on. I think you just have to really try to get not too much in your hands. When your core and leg aren’t working like they usually do, your first instinct is to balance with your arms.”

About a year after she gave birth to her son, Hebert was a speaker at the 2016 USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program, which is aimed at fledgling dressage professionals, most in their twenties. As a former editor at Dressage Today magazine, she had originally planned to discuss how to interact with the media, but instead she decided to talk about balancing life with a dressage career. Planning ahead, Hebert told her audience, was essential in ensuring her peace of mind before she took the big step of starting a family. “A lot of the reason that we decided to buy our own farm was that I wanted to have job security. I’m kind of a worst-case-scenario person, so I made sure I had people on staff who were reliable and who could ride for me. I know not everyone has that luxury, but it made things work for me because it took longer to get back in the saddle than I thought it would.” Hebert was frank with the program participants about the choices involved in becoming a mom: “I had a horse that was going really well, and I had to give up the ride on him. As much as I planned, you can’t plan everything. You’ll have to make sacrifices. You have to decide if you’ll have a child or if you’ll ride. Not all careers require that you make that choice.” Like most event riders, Stutes accepts the fact that galloping and jumping cross-country are physically risky—but she’s also aware that she can’t ride well if she’s thinking about anything other than her performance. “I kind of have a deal with myself, now that I’ve done this twice: When I’m on Chatwin, if I ever feel uncomfortable, I’m pulling the plug. Once I leave the start box, though, there’s not a second I’m thinking about being pregnant; I’m just fully focused on riding my horse. If I hadn’t felt one hundred percent mentally, I wouldn’t have gone out of the box.”

40 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION


Planning Ahead

Stutes also has a deal with her close friend and fellow event rider Tamie Smith, herself the mother of two older children: “If I ever seem ‘not right’ to her”—meaning not up to the task, either physically or mentally—“she’ll say something to me, kind of a little checks and balances.”

Do What’s Best for You Hebert is confident that she made the right decision for herself, and she urges mothers-to-be to do what makes them comfortable. “I try to find ways to talk about not riding [while pregnant] without being preachy,” she says. “There are a lot of people who want to be validated that riding is safe, but there really isn’t science behind its safety. You have to do what’s right for you.” That said, Hebert admits to feeling some disapproval from her peers and colleagues of her decision to take time off from riding. “I didn’t have any issues with my pregnancy, and I didn’t really ‘show’ until my third trimester, so it wasn’t obvious that I was pregnant. My clients were supportive, but a lot of people asked what I was doing, and it put a lot of stress on me.” Nevertheless, Hebert stood firm. “I feel like what is really important for anyone who hasn’t gone through this before [to know] is, it’s such a short amount of time. It seemed like forever, but it was only about six months.” “I would say it’s a very individual decision,” says Hobbs, “and it depends a lot on the horse available to you, the situation you’re riding in, and your experience level. My husband

The Pregnant Dressage Competitor



ational and international equestrian competition rules do not address the subject of riding during pregnancy. A number of well-known women riders—among them Dutch dressage star Anky van Grunsven (who was five months pregnant when she won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics), British eventing legend Mary King, and US Olympic jumping gold medalist Laura Kraut—have competed successfully while they were expecting. The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) offers guidelines for women who are considering continuing to ride during their pregnancies at https:// inside.fei.org/fei/your-role/medical-safety/pregnancy. The FEI does advise a mom-to-be who wishes to take part in FEI events to inform her national federation of the pregnancy because “fitness to compete” is part of the athlete-selection process.

BACK IN THE SADDLE: Dressage pro Hilary Moore Hebert opted not to ride during her pregnancy

was on board with it, too, but if you have people in your family who aren’t comfortable with it, consider that, too. Because, honestly, it’s just a couple of months.” One safety precaution that Hobbs took during her rides: “I did always let someone know when I was getting on and off. I live near neighbors who can see me, but I just made sure someone knew I was riding. That was my husband’s safety thing; he really insisted.” Like many women, Hobbs “got opinions from every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the street” during her pregnancy.” She advises other equestrian moms-to-be: “For your own sanity, you might keep your choice to keep riding off social media because you’ll get people who say you’re endangering your child and all that nonsense, but that goes with any part of child-rearing. You have to know what’s important to you and your family, and hold those values.” Kick on, or don’t; the choice is yours—assuming Mother Nature doesn’t put her foot down and make the decision for you. With a little luck, in not too long, baby will be watching from the sidelines as Mom gets some much-needed saddle time. s Equestrian and mother of two Amber Heintzberger is an awardwinning journalist, photographer, and co-author of two books, most recently Modern Eventing with Phillip Dutton. She lives with her family outside New York City.


December 2017/January 2018




All About You

New books deconstruct the rider, physically and psychologically By Jennifer O. Bryant

From the RiderBiomechanics Guru Are you serious about analyzing your own peculiar riding-position problems and doing what it takes to improve your alignment, stability, and influence in the saddle? Then prepare to spend some quality time with The New Anatomy of Rider Connection (Trafalgar Square, 2017, 224 pp.). Author Mary Wanless, the British riding instructor and rider-biomechanics expert, became famous for her Ride with Your Mind series and for coaching such well-known riders as US dressage star Heather Blitz (who appears in the book as a photo model). Wanless’s new book brings to the table her experience with such bodywork methods as Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, Franklin Method, and Anatomy Trains. “Anatomy” is part of the title for good reason: You’ll become very well versed in human muscular and skeletal anatomy by the time you’re through. The New Anatomy of Rider Connection is not a fitness book, although Wanless provides many simple moves for tapping into muscle connections and sussing out problem areas. What she offers is a painstaking virtual dissection of the rider’s physical weaknesses, imbalances, and poor movement habits, coupled with exercises and Centered Riding-style imagery, to help you straighten yourself out.

Pictorial Position Primer Despite the many lovely photographs of Iberian horses and their (unfortunately) bareheaded riders, The Dressage Seat is not yet another coffee-table homage to the lovely Spanish and Portuguese mounts. Instead, the German-born Anja Beran uses the Iberians in demonstrating the many common rider-position flaws and fixes in her new book (Trafalgar Square, 2017, 176 pp.). If Mary Wanless is the bodyworker who complements your riding lessons with unmounted work, then Beran is the picky instructor who corrects your position in the saddle, shows you what you’re doing wrong, and gives you exercises for improving your posture, mobility, and effectiveness. As Beran herself states, there’s nothing new in The Dressage Seat, but her clear visuals may help riders achieve some “aha” moments.

No Hoof, No…You Know the Saying Owning a horse with bad feet can be an exercise in masochism. Chronic hoof problems can interrupt or even derail an otherwise healthy horse’s performance career. And even good feet can suffer injuries,

42 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION

trimming and shoeing indignities, and poor environmental conditions. Despite the hoof ’s importance, there’s been surprisingly little written on the consumer level regarding hoof health and farriery. Susan Kauffmann and Christina Cline attempt to remedy this lack with their new book, The Essential Hoof Book (Trafalgar Square, 2017, 312 pp.). Loaded with clear color photographs, The Essential Hoof Book is an excellent overview of this complex piece of equine anatomy. The field of farriery is prone to debate and controversy, and I would have liked to see some more farriery and perhaps veterinary credentials among the authors. But I wouldn’t hesitate to use The Essential Hoof Book as a reference and a jumping-off point for discussing a horse’s foot-related issues with my own farrier and veterinarian.

Feel-Good Equestrianism The typical dressagetraining approach is very rightbrained: Circle here, half-halt there, and X literally marks the spot in a precision-driven sport. But then there’s the “art” side to the sport, including the nonverbal communication that dancer, choreographer, and equestrian Paula Josa-Jones feels is equally important in creating a strong partnership with a horse. One part Zen, one part movement workbook, Our Horses, Ourselves (Trafalgar Square, 2017, 224 pp.) is Josa-Jones’s collection of “movements and strategies for deeper understanding and enhanced communication,” as the subtitle states. The opposite of a riding manual, Our Horses, Ourselves might help you rediscover the fun and

wonder of being around horses, and unwind the nonverbal static that could be interfering with your communication.

Living History This book’s title, according to a note in the text, is a German idiom for extricating oneself from a dangerous or otherwise unwanted situation. A memoir by a German-born retired US dressage judge, Jumping off the Devil’s Shovel (AuthorHouse, 2016, 232 pp.) recounts the horrors of World War II interwoven with the love of horses that helped see her through her harrowing 1945 escape from the advancing Soviet army. At 18, Renate von Keunheim (now Ruzich) was the beautiful daughter of an aristocratic family in East Prussia, in an area now controlled by Russia. Her equestrian skill and a beloved mare, Tasha, literally saved Ruzich’s life as she joined the mass of refugees who fled to western Europe to escape the Soviets. In 1953, Ruzich immigrated to the US with her late husband. After a long career as a dressage judge and trainer, she retired and now lives in Virginia, where she decided to record her account of her war experiences for future generations to learn from and remember. Jumping off the Devil’s Shovel is not an equestrian book per se, and it is graphic and disturbing reading at times. It serves as a reminder of the origins of some of our foreign-born American dressage supporters, a precious few of whom are still with us, and the hell they endured to be able to share their equestrian knowledge and traditions with our country. s

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The 2017 USDF Online Stallion Guide is LIVE!

2017 USDF Online Stallion Guide

This annual online stallion guide is released by the United States Dressage Federation for the dressage community. The guide is available both through the USDF website and the USDF app. This guide contains interactive links to give you all the information you need to make a favorable breeding decision. Whether interested in breeding, or looking for a breeder with offspring already on the ground, this is a great way to learn more about dressage breeders throughout North America.

The Hottest Bloodlines in Rio

Trending Stallions in the Sport Horse Arena: USDFBC Statistics

Pursit of Excellence: Regional Championship Statistics

Finals by the Numbers: US Dressage Finals Statistics

USDF CALENDAR To make sure we provide our members with the most up-todate deadlines and events, the USDF Calendar has moved online.

Visit www.usdf.org/calendar for • • • • • •

USEF licensed/USDF recognized competitions Breeders’ Championships Regional Championships USDF sponsored events USDF University accredited programs All the important deadlines and dates you might need

46 December 2017/January 2018 • USDF CONNECTION

W W W. U S D F. O R G

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Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation


NEW TRAINING SERIES: What Other Disciplines Can Teach Dressage Riders Basics of Freestyle Creation


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December 2017/January 2018


Horses Build Bridges Riding in the Maccabiah Games: an amazing opportunity offering a global perspective By Rebecca Cord


he quadrennial Maccabiah Games in Israel are the thirdlargest sporting event in the world, with 10,000 athletes—all Jewish—from 85 nations competing in 45 sports in 2017. The 2017 Games were only the second time that equestrian competition—dressage and jumping—was included, and I was thrilled and honored to take part. My journey to the Maccabiah Games began in the fall of 2016. After

Our first week in Israel was split between training sessions and tourism. In Jerusalem, we visited the Old City and the City of David. While in Tel Aviv, we saw Independence Hall, Rabin Square, and the Port of Jaffa. We explored caves and saw ancient ruins in Beit Guvrin National Park, covered ourselves with the therapeutic mud of the Dead Sea, and hiked up Mount Masada. Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, was a sobering but important reminder of our heritage. The US equestrian competitors were given three options: bring a horse, privately lease a horse in Israel, or draw from a pool of horses furnished by Maccabiah OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME: The writer on her “catch ride” horse, Mundial, owned by Nathalie Swirsky, at the 2017 Maccabiah Games in Israel Games organizers. I opted to lease a beausubmitting an initial application to US tiful black mare, River Dance. River’s Equestrian, I had to answer a series owners, like all of the owners we met, of tough essay questions and send were honored to have Americans comseveral riding videos, including one peting their horses. The horse commushowing a “catch ride” on an unfamilnity in Israel, while small, is incredibly iar horse. supportive, with a clear love for the I finally got the call in late January: horses. I had made the team! I would be The equestrian competition, with one of four dressage riders and four 64 riders from 15 nations, began a few jumper riders representing the USA. days after the July 6 opening ceremony After months of preparation, it was in Jerusalem. River handled the stafinally time to head to Israel. In late dium atmosphere very well. All the June, hundreds of athletes—the US Team USA horses were schooling very delegation totaled 1,100—gathered at well, but the Israelis had the advantage JFK Airport in New York for the eleven- of riding their own horses, and we and-a-half-hour flight to Tel Aviv. knew they would be tough to beat.

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The first morning of competition brought an unexpected setback when River came out of her stall refusing to put weight on one hind leg. I lifted her foot and found a huge bolt stuck in the sole! The veterinarians and owners thought that River might be OK by the time of my ride, but I was concerned about possible further injury or infection, so we made the decision to scratch the mare. We had to scramble to find another available horse, and again I was blown away by the generosity of the Israeli horse community. I rode Mundial, a handsome chestnut, briefly for the first time that afternoon. As a professional trainer, I am accustomed to riding a huge variety of horses—but catch-riding a horse the day of an international competition was challenging, to say the least, especially when it was a quirky horse that had never been in the stadium before, really didn’t like the Jumbotron, and was loath to leave his friends in the warm-up! I didn’t score as well as I had hoped, but thanks to my teammates’ strong rides, we ended up just behind the Israeli team for a team silver medal! I am so grateful for the opportunity to connect my Jewish heritage with my passion for dressage. I met dressage enthusiasts from around the world. I got to spend almost a month traveling in another country. I learned that East Coast summers are nothing compared to the heat and humidity of the Middle East. And I took part in my first international competition. With all the division and turmoil in the world today, horses remind us that we are more alike than different. Dressage in the US is not any different from dressage in Israel. Even in a nation plagued by ongoing conflict, horses can bring people together. s Rebecca Cord is an FEI-level instructor/trainer based in Clarksboro, NJ, near Philadelphia. She is a USDF bronze and silver medalist, a USDF L program graduate, and a USDFcertified instructor/trainer.


the tail end

INTEGRITY Photo: Sharon Packer











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