34 | THE WELLINGTON ADVERTISER | SEPTEMBER 15, 2017
Rockwood Trail Riders: the oldest saddle club in Ontario BY OLIVIA RUTT
ROCKWOOD - The motto of the Rockwood Trail Riders - horsemanship, sportsmanship and fellowship - encompasses what the saddle club is all about. The club is the oldest continuously run trail riding organization in Ontario - and it’s still going strong. The club was formed in 1963 by Babs Ellis and Diane
(Duncan) Lindblad, two Rockwood horse lovers and childhood friends. Lindblad passed away in 2012. The first event was a trail ride enjoyed by 16 members. Membership increased to 24 riders by the end of the first year. Now, with over 100 members, the club still sticks to its roots by getting together to have fun and learn with horses.
“It’s a building block, a foundation; just a clean, quiet, peaceful environment.” - WENDY SWACKHAMER
Longtime member Anne Dales said the club grew over time. “We’re pretty proud of it,” she said. The permanent home of the club, now located just north of Rockwood, is where Dales grew up. Her family was involved from when the club first formed. When the club was looking to settle in one place, Dales’ father offered to build
an arena on their property. “Fifty years ago … we were looking for some place more permanent because we were going from pillar to post ... “So my father said, ‘Well, I’ve got some property, why don’t we build an arena here and have the horse shows here?’” Dales recalled. By 1968, the club had its first full year at its new home. CONTINUED > PAGE 35
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SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 | THE WELLINGTON ADVERTISER | 35
Rockwood Trail Riders promotes friendly competition FROM PAGE 34
Horse shows The club puts on four weekend shows from May to August. In September the club holds the Trail Horse Trials, a friendly competition to finish off the year. “(It’s) the best stepping stone for introducing riders to showing, but then also giving that avenue for people who already show or maybe adults and they’ve showed in the past, a nice comfortable, quiet, easy-going environment to show their horse and to just have fun,” said Wendy Swackhamer, club president. Each show has an English and western saddle division with hunter, jumper, trail, reining and western pleasure classes, explained Swackhamer. This year, the Rockwood Trail Riders celebrated 50 years of Trail Horse Trials. Riders 12 and older competed in an obstacle course challenge. They manoeuvred their horse through various obstacles located on the property. Riders are judged on their performance as well as on horsemanship, sportsmanship and fellowship. “To give that base level for people to be able to ride and show without that high level, high expense ... you can bring any kind of horse,” said Swackhamer.
Rockwood trail riders - The Rockwood Trail Riders, the oldest continuously run trail riding organization in Ontario, is still going strong. ABOVE: Cooper Turner takes a break with Twilight Sparkle. Page 34 photo: Shelly McIntee rides Mr. Hancock Photos by Shari Lovell Blues during a western show at the Rockwood Trail Riders club in Rockwood.
“It’s a building block, a foundation; just a clean, quiet, peaceful environment.” The club has evolved over the last 54 years. “For quite some time,
there was a lot of trail riding and the shows were secondary. Then the shows became more prominent and less trail riding,” said Dales. “It’s still the same core
values: let’s go and learn stuff on our horses, let’s go and compete on our horses, let’s go and meet people.” The club has faced some challenges over the years,
mostly due to the loss of trails. “We’ve lost a lot of trails with development and privatization,” said Dales. The club used to ride on
many properties all around Rockwood, but with its growth, Dales said it’s not as easy to bring the horses out on the roads. Instead, the club uses the farm property as well as Camp Brebeuf, which is located behind the farm and farmland that stretches over to the 6th Line. Dales added, like any volunteer-run organization, finding and keeping helpers can be challenging too. “Doing a horse show is a lot of work, and it takes a lot of hands, and that’s the biggest challenge, having people step in,” she said. Dales said the shows are still competitive, but it’s friendly, and the shows are not sanctioned. “It’s where people start. A lot of people start here. They feel safe here, they feel that they can get their feet wet, they learn here,” she said. “The horse world brings together such varied people, and we all share that common horse thing.” Dales said the club has become a community - one where she has developed lifelong friendships. Rockwood Trail Riders will celebrate its 55th anniversary next year as well as the 50th year of the new arena. For more information about the club visit www. rockwoodtrailriders.ca.
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36 | THE WELLINGTON ADVERTISER | SEPTEMBER 15, 2017
Education opening doors and eyes in racing industry BY JACKIE BELLAMY-ZIONS
GUELPH - “Knowledge acquired in Equine Guelph online courses has opened doors for me in the industry,” says standardbred breeder Cameron Lago. “The racing industry is a tight knit community and since taking the courses, I have seen a few big-name trainers pushing towards hiring Equine Guelph students and have motivated a few friends to look into them.” In the fall of 2016, Lago applied for, and was awarded, the Stuart Stocks Memorial Equine Award. This enabled him to enroll in two online courses, furthering his knowledge in training horses to perform at their peak while maintaining their welfare. A representative on the Canadian Council on Animal Care, Lago already possessed a deeply rooted passion for horses. “When you are training horses to their maximum performance level, it is important that you treat them humanely,” he said. After taking the online Exercise Physiology course, Lago said he gleaned important information on how different muscle fibres are being used and how their composition will reflect on how well the horses perform at the track. Learning about bone
remodeling has had an impact on how he will train his foals; walking at increased rates progressively as they grow up to ensure bone structure can handle training, while maintaining a balance of not pushing so hard that it becomes an animal welfare issue. “The networking component and online community was an awesome experience,” Lago said. “It was probably my favourite part.” Lago explains they were learning, from other online students, about racing in Australia and New Zealand, while also learning about how dressage riders and jumpers train differently. Lago also took the online genetics course looking for ways to maximize his breeding program and is planning on taking Equine Guelph’s nutrition course soon. Lago says the courses so far have been a huge asset. “You are gaining an inside view on what is happening in individual athletes and making sure each individual’s needs are met to 100 per cent,” he said. In the exercise physiology course Lago explained he learned the importance of sourcing an equine nutritionist. Like a human athlete, what you put in is what you get out. Lago says he is really looking forward to taking the nutrition course.
Lago has been away from his home farm in Guelph, working in Alberta and completing studies in agriculture. Due to the 24/7 accessibil-
Stocks Memorial Equine Award in 2016. As a barrister, solicitor and groom at Woodbine race track she sees the value in
“The networking component and online community was an awesome experience.” - CAMERON LAGO
ity of the online courses, he was able to fit everything into his busy life. Deborah Corcoran was also awarded the Stuart
continuing education and is determined to become an advocate for horses and their life cycle planning. With a soft spot for senior
horses and second careers for race horses, Corcoran has been involved in fundraising for Mindy Lovell of Transitions Thoroughbreds, a non-profit organization that provides intervention, rehabilitation, retirement, rehoming and re-training for off-track thoroughbreds for sport and pleasure. Corcoran also has her own ideas for a Fifty for $50 deal, providing 50 minutes of legal opinion, advice, drafting, etc. with all proceeds going to Transitions Thoroughbreds. As a newcomer to the horse industry with five years of experience under her belt, Deborah said, “The equine behaviour online course was a catalyst in my journey to
further my education and to learn more about horses. My commitment is to horse welfare in general and therefore I must keep learning.” Entries for the next Stuart Stocks Memorial Equine Award will be accepted until Nov. 15. Another new award has also just been announced, which will be of interest to participants in the standardbred industry. The Roger L’Heureux Memorial Equine Award was established in loving memory of Roger L’Heureux by David L’Heureux and Crystal Fountains Inc. See Equine Guelph Tuition Awards for entry details on how to apply.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 | THE WELLINGTON ADVERTISER | 37
Local harness racing driver wins World Championship BY JAIME MYSLIK
GUELPH – Local harness racing driver James MacDonald became a world champion this summer. For 10 days in August he competed against the best of the best and emerged victorious at the 2017 World Driving Championships. “It was a lot of fun,” said MacDonald. “I’m from Prince Edward Island so that’s where the last leg was; that was unbelievable, I ... couldn’t have dreamed of a better spot to do it, so it was amazing - something I’ll definitely never forget.” Growing up in PEI, MacDonald, 31, was a selfproclaimed “track-rat,” having spent his childhood at the racetrack. “My family’s been involved in it forever. My mom takes the pictures still at the racetrack in Charlottetown, my dad’s got broodmares and my brothers are all involved, so we’ve been in it ... since we were born,” he said. “I couldn’t help but be involved in it.” Yet it wasn’t until he moved to Ontario that MacDonald began driving. “I moved up here after I finished high school to work for my brother Anthony and then I worked for him for a couple years and I trained for a couple years and then I started driving when I was 23,” he said. His first race was at Georgian Downs in Barrie and his first win was in PEI the same week. “I went back home for a long weekend and I got a drive and ended up winning,” he said. “I think I maybe only have three wins in PEI, but they were some of my biggest
ones.” Driving was always MacDonald’s ultimate goal. “Anyone that’s been involved in horse racing, that’s kind of where they want to get to,” he said. “If you can drive horses it’s amazing and if you can do it to where you can make a living at it ... any kid that’s been involved in harness racing that’s kind of your dream.” MacDonald’s road to the Canadian Driving Championship began last fall when he competed in a regional tournament at Grand River Raceway against other Central Ontario drivers. MacDonald took the win and Trevor Henry came in second. They both then competed in the national championships in London last fall and MacDonald placed second, meaning he did not earn a spot in the world championship. However, when the first place driver was eliminated MacDonald got his chance. The catch? He learned about it two weeks before the World Driving Championship was set to begin in Calgary. He told the trainers for whom he usually drove that he would be away for about 10 days and he said they were understanding. “This is kind of a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity ... you never know when you’re going to get to represent your country so I had to take it,” he said. “I was lucky, this year it was held in Canada. “I had a knowledge of a lot of the horses I was going to be driving and racing against so that helped definitely for sure.” There were 11 drivers in
ABOVE - James MacDonald racing. RIGHT: MacDonald at Industry Day at the Grand River Raceway Photos by Dave Landry
the competition: two from New Zealand (the defending World Champion and national champion), one from Australia, one from Austria, one from Belgium, one from Finland, one from Malta, one from Norway, and one from the U.S. They all raced each other in 22 races during the championship. MacDonald explained that there were post positions from one to 11 and each driver had to start in each post position twice. However, choosing a horse was a completely random process. The championship began at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino in Calgary on Aug. 12, then continued at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville on Aug. 14,
Georgian Downs in Innisfil on Aug. 15, Hippodrome 3R in Trois-Rivières, Quebec on Aug. 16, and Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park in Prince Edward Island. The international competition brought different challenges for MacDonald. able to go with the flow and “The North American see what happens.” style of racing is completely While his friends and different than the European family where there to or the Australian and the New Zealand, any of those different countries,” he said. SERVING “They’re used to sitting three-wide the whole mile HALTON & and just kind of waiting WELLINGTON whereas in North America FARM it’s more of a single-file style COUNTRY of racing. “You had to have aRESTOCK quick FOR YOUROVER learning curve and just be 25 YEARS
ing several different exercises at different gaits with a rider on,” said Danielle Halucha, a student in Thomason’s lab. “Then, the shoes are removed and the horses are allowed time to adjust. The same horses are then re-evaluated performing the same exercises and gaits, with the same rider on, but without shoes.” The horses are evaluated moving in a straight line and around corners, and researchers use four different sensors, as well as reflective equipment, to monitor the horses’ speed and movements. The effects of shoe versus no shoe are investigated with several variables, including differences in footing/surfaces, direction, gait and lead and counter-lead. If you’re interested in learning more about your horse’s joints, visit Equine Guelph’s interactive Journey through the Joints learning tool.
CONTINUED > PAGE 38
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38 | THE WELLINGTON ADVERTISER | SEPTEMBER 15, 2017
Wellington County equine owners facing hay shortage BY JAIME MYSLIK
Champ - 2017 World Driving Champion James MacDonald high-ﬁves fans along the rail at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park. Photo by Suomen Hippos/Ilkka Nisula FROM PAGE 37
outpouring of support from across Canada throughout the entire championship was a surprise. “When you race horses you usually have maybe five per cent of the people cheering for you; the rest are cheering for someone else or they’re indifferent,” MacDonald said. “Well this was like 97% of everyone at the track was cheering for me so ... it was a lot of fun. “It was something I’ll never forget and never probably experience again.” The Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park was a sea of red and white on Aug. 16 when MacDonald completed the last leg of the championship and earned his win. “Every time I would go by the grandstand the crowd would go crazy,” he said. “I can’t even describe to you how much fun it was and what a great experience
it was.” MacDonald won $25,000 but doesn’t have any plan yet for how he’s planning to spend the money. He is also guaranteed a spot in the next World
He races at Mohawk five days a week. On Sundays and Wednesdays he said he will compete in stakes races at different tracks, including Grand River Raceway.
“This is kind of a once-ina-lifetime opportunity ... you never know when you’re going to get to
represent your country.” - JAMES MACDONALD
Driving Championships in two years in Sweden. “I’ve never been anywhere overseas so it will be a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully I can get it done again.” Until then MacDonald will be “back to the grind with everyday racing,” he said.
He drives for Mark Steacy Stable and whatever other drives he picks up. “I drive between seven and ten different horses a night and usually of those seven or 10 it’s usually for five or six different trainers,” MacDonald said.
FERGUS - Equine owners could have a rough go this year as hay shortages become a reality. Wellington Federation of Agriculture president Janet Harrop explained it wasn’t the hay yield that posed a challenge this summer. It was the weather. “If you looked at what was in the field you wouldn’t have thought we would have a hay shortage because the grass and hay that was grown this year was a bumper crop ... but we couldn’t get it in the barn,” she said. “It was almost impossible ... without it having rain on it.” Harrop said all that was needed was a four- to five-day window of dry weather. “Just enough ... for you to cut it down and have it dry enough and bale it and get it off the field,” she said. “That’s it, but we’ve only had two of those the entire summer.” For equine facilities it is important that hay be completely dry before it’s baled and stored. Even if slightly damp when stored, Harrop said the hay could produce mold, dust and spores, which are very dangerous for horses and could cause respiratory and digestive problems when consumed. “It’s almost like an asthma they get from the dust and then digestively it will affect the way they digest the food and it makes them quite unhealthy,” she explained. “They get quite sick with it.” But all is not lost.
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“This year was a bumper crop ... but we couldn’t get it in the barn. It was almost impossible ... without having rain on it. - JANET HARROP
because it had even more rain than Wellington County. “Northern Ontario didn’t get near the rain that we did so whether we’ll start seeing hay coming in from the northern part of the province or even from Manitoba ... and
then selling at some of the markets because they know that there’s a need here,” Harrop said. “It always does arrive, it’s just you have to pay more for it.” First cuts were also later in the season this year. While it’s ideal to cut hay for horses around the end of June, Harrop said many people didn’t bale their first cut until the beginning of August. “Even if they got it cut and they got it baled and it was dried, it’s a lot of fibre, not a lot of nutrients,” she said. Most hay is a mix of alfalfa and grass, Harrop said. “The reason that they like alfalfa hay is because it’s pretty high in protein and high in the micronutrients and minerals that horses need,” she said. “You can feed them pretty much just hay and it meets pretty much all of the nutritional needs.” But if hay is difficult to come by, Harrop said there’s always an option to purchase a prepared product. “You can buy alfalfa cubes that companies will make, it’s a small compressed cube that’s in a bag but the price goes up significantly,” she explained. “You can find alfalfa and you can find products, but the cost is significantly higher than ... growing it yourself. “Buying hay from somebody at the time of harvest is the most economical.” Harrop said it’s now too late in the growing season and there’s not enough sunlight to bale the dry hay needed for equine purposes.
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