Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Choosing the Right Horse Breed

What, exactly, is a breed of horse? It’s a collection of horses that have been selectively developed by breeders to carry certain traits. Since the beginning of time people have bred horses for particular jobs and tasks, and that’s why there are so many distinct breeds today. Some people needed big, heavy, and strong horses to get chores done around the barn, while others were more interested in breeding light and fast horses for racing or riding. Traits that stand the test of time that are passed down from generation to generation often become traits by which the breed is known. The breed of horse you select can be very important to whether or not you and your horse are well matched. So how do you determine which breed is right for you? Ask yourself a few questions: • What discipline am I planning on enjoying with my horse? Those who plan on enjoying barrel racing with their horse will have dramatically different needs than someone whose goal is to reach the Grand Prix level of dressage. • What is my experience level? If you are a novice rider, you will likely need a horse with a calm temperament. More advanced riders can handle hotter horses. • What is my temperament like? A good rule of thumb is that you and your horse should balance each other out, and that means you shouldn’t have the same weaknesses! If you are hotheaded, go for a horse with a calmer temperament. Now that you’ve asked yourself all the right questions, make a list of the traits that are important to you. It’s easier if you make two columns—one for conformation, and another for temperament. Once you have your list, you can start doing some research to find breeds that share these traits. Light horses. Light horses refer to just about any breed of horse used for riding, and there is a great variety when it comes to color, size, conformation, and temperament. Popular light horse breeds include the American Quarter Horse, whose athleticism, versatility, short-distance speed, and sturdiness make it ideal for ranch work, cutting and reining, and short-distance races; the Arabian, whose beauty, incredible endurance, and high spirits make it ideal for endurance trail riding, showing, and pleasure; the Dutch Warmblood, whose conformation, athleticism, and size make it perfect for jumping, dressage, and driving; the Morgan, whose excellent temperament, strength, endurance, soundness, and versatility appeal to people engaged in just about any discipline; and the Thoroughbred, whose speed, endurance, and “never-give-up” attitude make it well-suited to racing, jumping, dressage, and cross-country. Ponies. By definition, a pony is any horse standing under 14.2 hands. Despite their small stature, ponies can be excellent mounts for adults and children alike, and often excel at jumping, driving, and trail riding. Popular pony breeds include the Chincoteague Pony, whose wonderful temperaments and pretty faces make them ideal first mounts for children; the Connemara, whose stamina, strength, and jumping talent help them excel in jumping, hunting, dressage, driving, and other sporting pursuits; the Hackney Pony, whose high action, great stamina, and effervescent personalities make them just right for pleasure, harness, and roadster driving; and the Shetland Pony, whose versatility and great temperament make them ideal for carrying children or for driving. Heavy Horses. Heavy horses are those horses that are selectively bred to be tall and massive, and were originally used for farm work. Today, some heavy horses are used for riding. Popular heavy horse breeds include the Belgian, whose sturdiness of bone and high-stepping action make it ideal for pulling; the Clydesdale, whose size and fluid and powerful movement make it well-suited to draft work and being part of multi-horse hitches; and the Percheron, whose elegance make it ideal for harness and carriage driving.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

So, Your Wife Wants a Horse...

By the time a man finally decides to marry the love of his life, he thinks that he knows exactly who she is and that he will be able to get along with her for the rest of his life. The first few years of your marriage are wonderful. You have got a promotion at work and your wife has turned out to be the perfect spouse. Then one day you come home from work and your wife drops a bomb. She tells you that she wants to purchase a horse!

You do not know what to do. You think that purchasing a horse will ruin your wonderful lifestyle, but what many men do not realize is that letting your wife purchase a horse will score you some major brownie points. Most of you are thinking to yourself that there is no way that this could be true. You think that you are going to have a huge monthly expense because owning a horse is not cheap and you just know that eventually your wife will want you to purchase a horse so that both of you can go horseback riding together. If you stay calm and keep your cool, you will be able to come out ahead, your wife will be happy, and everyone knows that if the wife is happy, the husband will be happy.

If you refuse to let your wife purchase a horse, your relationship could eventually end in a divorce and that will be much more costly than paying for feed and boarding. If you let your wife purchase a horse, you will be able to benefit just as much as she does.

By letting your wife purchase a horse, you will be able to get just about anything that you want. This means if your wife tells you that you do not need a 72 inch flat panel plasma screen television all you have to tell her is that she did not need a horse and before you know it you will be watching your favorite football team play on a 72 inch flat panel plasma screen television.

This tactic can be used over and over again because a horse is not a one time expense. As long as your wife owns a horse, you will be paying for feed, veterinary costs, and various other expenses. This means that anytime your wife tells you that you cannot have something that you want all you have to do is mention how much you spend every month on her horse and she will not be able to stop you from purchasing new golf clubs or anything else that you want.

So, while purchasing a horse for your wife may seem like a huge expense all you have to do is think of owning a horse as a get out of jail free card. You will be able to pressure your wife into purchasing things that you would not be able to buy if she did not own the horse.

So what do you think? Want to share your thoughts? Post here or stop by our beautiful equine forum atEquestrianHorseForum and share, we would love to hear from you.

Women's Love of Horses

For many women who own horses, their horse is one of only a few constant factors that they have in their lives. In a way, their horses are like their children. Women have to watch over them and take care of them on a daily basis, just like their children. This is one reason that women love their horses so much.

To a woman, a horse is just an extension of their family, why else would a woman get up at five O’ clock in the morning and go outside in the freezing cold to feed a horse and clean out their stall? There has to be a great amount of love involved for anyone to do that. Many women see their horses as not only members of their families, but also as their best friends.

Many women could easily spend hours in the barn telling their horse about all of their problems or other events that are happening in their lives. This is because horses are great listeners, much better than most men.

Men cannot help the fact that they do not listen well. All men know that their ears are not able to hear the frequency that a woman voice is produced in, however; they are very skilled at listening to a sports analyst when they are predicting the outcome of a game. This is why most men cannot remember a single thing that their wives tell them, their ears cannot determine what is being said. This is similar to listening to someone speak in a different language; you can hear sounds, but you have no idea what is being said.

This is why women will turn to their horses. A horse will stand quietly in their stall or in the pasture and will listen for hours and they do not even have to be bribed with food. Many women will even tell you that their horse understands what they are saying because if a woman is feeling down, a horse will often give her a nudge with their muzzle as a way of saying “I understand”.

Many women (and men) will also tell you that their horse is a very inexpensive form of therapy. An observant person may notice that if a woman has had a bad day and goes out to the barn for a “therapy session” with their horse that ninety percent of the time she will come back from the barn with a smile on her face and with a new outlook on life. How many therapists can you think of that can produce an effect like that during an hour long therapy session?

This is why many men love women who own horses. They know that if their wife is having a bad day, after a short trip to the barn her day will be much better. A smart husband knows that the horse listens to all of his wife’s problems, which means that he will not be disturbed while watching his favorite football team.

For more great fun with women who love horses please join our equine community at EquestrianHorseForum and list your equine stuff for only .99 cents! Tell a friend.

Equine Website Network Eliminates Competition for Small Businesses

In the dog eat dog world of equine sales small businesses often find themselves crushed under the hooves of their larger competitors; however, a new website recently launched by equine enthusiast Ron Petracek has made great strides in leveling the playing field. provides a strong platform for individuals specializing in equines and related equipment, and its unique network ensures that no advertisement will be swept to the wayside by a competitor with more marketing dollars to burn.
Ron Petracek was raised in Southern Idaho and has been working with equines in some manner or another his whole life; however, some time ago he and his wife began to grow frustrated with the difficulties they faced buying and selling their horses.
“I have a Master’s Degree in the School of Hard Knocks,” say Petracek when asked about his experience in marketing and equine sales.
Petracek took his education and what he had gleaned by attempting to work with other sites specializing in equine sales and created Sellers can list their horses and related equipment, such as trucks, trailers, saddles and tack (both new and used) for only .99 cents per ad.
After listing the ad will be duplicated across all twelve sites in the Equineinternet network, a network that includes such sites as ClickEquine, ClubEquine and EquineJunction. Sellers are not expected to compete for exposure on the basis of the size of their bank accounts; no one is lost in the pasture of technology, as is so common with many of the free listing services currently available.
When they choose to advertise with sellers will be given access to a vast directory of equine services at no extra cost and instant self-serve business banner advertising for as little as ten dollars a month. also, for a limited time, is providing owners and breeders with the opportunity to list their stallions for .99 cents for a full year, with quality leads guaranteed.
At’s network site horse lovers will have the opportunity to buy and sell equine related arts, crafts and gifts, and members will have access to a vast assortment of articles and community resources through a feature known as HorseChitChat, where owners and equine enthusiasts can gather together and exchange ideas and advice on a variety of different topics.
For more information about visit Or to view the entire network visit

Saturday, March 17, 2007

To Switch or Not to Switch? - Trainers that Is..

Hey everyone how in the heck are you doing? Hope everyone is well. It has been an interesting week with horses. Had an old horse we had to say goodbye to, he was 24 and became a cronic colic guy. I was amazed at how well my children handled the loss. It is always a weird feeling when you loose something close. It was a habit I will miss to give the old man his evening treat. Dealing with any type of loss is weird for me, I don't handle it well.

Someone just had a very interesting topic on the HorseChitChat forum and I thought I could go into a little more detail. The question was whether or not it was okay to switch trainers as get better at riding or if you should stick with your current trainer?I think that you should definately switch trainers if you feel like you have learned as much as you can from your first trainer or riding instructor. Most riders begin with riding instructors or trainers to either learn to ride a specific discipline or compete in a specific event. If you feel that you have learned everything that you can from your current trainer and that you are not progressing any more, then you should definately look at a more experienced trainer that you feel you could learn more from and compete at a higher level with. If you find that you are no longer interested in one discipline or area of competition and you are thinking of making a change, then you may want to consider making a change in trainers as well. You wouldn't want to stick with a reining trainer if you have a new goal of becoming a Grand Prix show jumper. There's not a lot that your reining trainer could help you with. Many riders may also find themselves with a riding instructor that doesn't compete, but the rider wants to. This is also another reason that you would want to switch trainers. Your instructor may have been very beneficial in teaching to ride, but if he/she doesn't want to compete or has no experience in competing then he/she won't be very helpful in preparing you for the show ring.A lot of trainers and instructors are also constantly seeking a new education and if you feel that you are ready to move to the next leve, then your trainer may be able to refer you to a trainer that competes at a higher level than them. They will definately understand if you need to switch trainers, just sit down and talk to them about it.

Hope everyone has a blessed weekend and hope to chat with you again soon.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Understanding Horse Show Judging

Hey Everyone hope the last couple days have been treating you well had some more thoughts to share!
Showing can be a wonderfully rewarding and inspirational experience for riders. It can also be a source of great stress and confusion. Many new riders start showing without having an understanding of the rules for horse show classes and, as a result, do not understand why some issues may be judged—in their perspective—more harshly in one class but not in another.

Often, judging is a matter of not only finding the winner—either the best horse or rider in the class—but it is also a matter of weighing the offenses of those who do not win the class. Faults are weighed against each other; for example, a rider’s heel coming up and leg moving a bit back on jumps is less of an offense than a rider who gets left behind. The greatest offenses could include a dangerous ride, an abusive rider or a rider who very much gets in the way of his horse (like the one who gets left behind).

For example, in hunt seat equitation divisions, the rider is judged on position and control. Additionally, diagonals and leads count (as does dropping one’s head to check if one is on the correct lead or diagonal!) In equitation over fences divisions, refusals, break of gait and wrong leads are faults.

In hunter classes, such as hunters under saddle, hunter hack and hunters over fences, the horse’s movement and attitude are judged. The hunter should look like a willing participant in the show with an alert, quiet, relaxed, balanced and happy expression and way of going. As a good mover, he’s obviously not lame or stiff. He is balanced and not on the forehand. He’s softly round and traveling on the bit instead of hollow backed and evading the rider’s contact. Pinned ears, tail swishing, spooking, bucking, kicking out, and inability to maintain a consistent rhythmical gait are penalized. In the over fences classes, unsafe form is flawed such as dangling legs and lying on the side over the fence. A nice hunter over fences jumps in a calm rhythmical approach without rushing to the base and popping over the jumps. He tucks his legs up and uses his neck and back in a soft roundness over each fence. Refusals, bucking and taking down rails as well as missing lead changes are all faults. Horses showing dangerous behavior such as lameness, kicking or rearing, will be eliminated.

When selecting classes, riders need to know what equipment is allowable and what equipment is not. For example, dressage shows are very strict about bit rules, and riders must ensure that their bits are regulation dressage bits. Similarly, in hunter under saddle classes, martingales are prohibited. Boots on horses are allowed in jumpers and equitation over fences but not in hunters. And certain bits that are allowable in jumpers may not be approved for hunters over fences.

When you are entering classes in a show, to save yourself from confusion, heartache and wasted money, study up on the show requirements for winning those classes as well as the prohibited or penalized issues in those classes. If you know before you go, you’ll have a much happier experience!
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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Making the Wrong Horse Right for the Job

As I watch my friends buy new horses, the same theme keeps repeating itself over and over—suitability. We’ve all seen it; the wrong horse for the job. I see people buying horses that are not suitable because of conformation, age, previous work, movement or incompatibility with the rider, among other reasons.

Most common seems to be the young horse buy—the four-year-old horse for the child or someone who just intends to ride on the trails. Sure, you can find a nice quiet four-year-old, but, really, what are the chances he’ll be a trustworthy mount for a weak inexperienced amateur or the older recreational trail rider?

Another wrong horse scenario involves conformation. One friend was looking at horses that were billed as “dressage or hunter” prospects. (Frankly, I don’t see how a horse could be both except if you intend to ride just the lower levels of dressage, but that’s just my feeling.) She was shopping for a dressage horse and came back with a trial horse who seemed pleasant enough in personality, but he was a big draft cross type, maybe Irish draught.

“I dunno...,” I mussed, taking in his big, draft body, huge legs, and clunky feet. When he cantered, he sounded like a medieval war horse. “I’m no expert, but he looks more like he’d be real happy as a field hunter.”
“Really? They said he’d probably go to fourth level, maybe higher,” she said.

“I thought you said you wanted something small enough so that you could mount it from the ground in case you got thrown?” I wondered aloud, figuring he was over 17 hands. She didn’t answer. She was shorter than me, and I knew I’d have to vault off the side of the arena to get on this monster. And it’s not like she sticks like glue either; she was off her previous horse more often than not.

Needless to say, her instructor did not feel he’d make an upper level dressage horse, and he went back before his trial week was up.

Maybe I’m not one to comment. I've never sold my horses. I’ve loved them for what they could do. I don’t really know what it’s like to go horse shopping with the intent on finding a horse for a particular job.
In a recent lesson with my dressage trainer, we began to push Lady’s training a little further, encouraging her to carry herself in a more advanced frame. Because we’re going slowly and carefully, she’s picking up the work quickly and agreeably (that is, when she isn’t distressed by squealing pigs.) I am well aware that she is not built to move through the upper levels of dressage, but that’s okay. She doesn’t like jumping and she’s not terribly bold without a lot of encouragement. But she’s a nicely forward, pretty mover for an ex-racehorse, with a lovely head and neck. I’m happy to work with what she’s willing to give while keeping her sound and sane. My riding aspirations revolve around what my horse is capable of doing—her suitability for the task. I will find the right job for her so that she can be the right horse.EquestrianHorseForum

The Mechanical Horse: Now at a Gym Near You

Have you seen these new horseback riding simulators? They’re marketed as exercise machines that build strength and endurance while simulating the gaits of a horse.

I guess it’s nice to know that someone, other than a horseperson, finally realizes that riding is exercise!

For one of the simulators, the marketing photo that accompanies it features a woman sitting on a machine that looks like an exercise bike saddle with stirrups. In front of her is a large plasma television screen of rolling grass hills. (The television is not included.)

Another one looks like a teapot on an ergonomic chair. A third simulator doesn’t look much different from the mechanical plastic rocking horse I grew up with, springs and all.

They’re the rage in Japan, a place where there’s not much room for horses, and are making their way into gyms in America. They probably do assist in building core strength and balance. Perhaps, like the marketing literature for the latter states, they’re good for rehabilitation after an injury.

Of course, now I can’t see ever using one of these simulators instead of riding a real, warm, independently thinking horse. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned or I hear the call of the open range (as open as it gets in New York), but I can’t ever see substituting a ride on a horse for this inanimate object. Then again, when it’s 20 degrees and my car is buried under snow, I might think differently. And at $600-$2000, they may cost as much as a horse, but they don’t eat, buck or go lame.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Cribbing & Colic

Many people recognize that some horses have vices and all horse owners tend to live with them as best we can. Many people do not realize the seriousness of cribbing and how detrimental it can be to a horse's health. In Equine Health and Boarding Horses you will find an article called "Combatting Cribbing". Many boarded horses are cribbers and I thought it appropriate to include the article in this category as well. Now, I am going to tell you my horror story with cribbing.About three years ago I acquired a 4 year old Appendix Quarter Horse Gelding. He was easily pushing 17 hands and was named appropriately, "Big John." He was a beautiful bay and I had a lot of plans for him. Unfortunately, I only had him about a year before I lost him.Big John was an extreme cribber. The previous owner failed to alert me of this until after I had the horse and the owner of the boarding barn called to tell me he was cribbing on a t-post in the pasture. Then she gave me the cribbing collar that she had bought for him before. I didn't think much of it at the time, but I didn't really know the extent of it yet either. It seemed that the cribbing collar was helpful and he didn't really do it all that much.Then, I moved to a really nice boarding barn and he had a nice size stall and a good size run of his own. Then he became a cribbing monster. As soon as his last piece of grain was gone he turned to the nearest pole on the stall and started sucking air. So, we upgraded the cribbing collar. We got a Miracle Collar and it seemed to work pretty well.Months went by and all was good. The summer came and went and then in January my husband and I and some friends went to Las Vegas for a little vacation. The boarding barn manager took care of Big John and all was fine while we were gone. About three weeks later though that was it.I was on my way to feed when I got the phone call that he was down in his stall. When I pulled up to the barn they had him up and walking but he was shaking. He had prolapsed, which means his rectum was coming out of his rear. He was in extreme pain. We called every vet in town and nobody would come out!!! Only one would answer the phone, but he couldn't leave. There was no way this horse could ride in a trailer, he could barely stand up on his own. So, we were instructed to give him Banamine, and walk, walk, walk. I walked that horse all day. I did my best to keep him up. He had rolled and thrashed so viciously in the early morning that he had given himself a black eye and had rubbed hair of his body. I talked to the vet and he said it looked like he would be okay since the prolapse went in on its own, but he wasn't sure if were out of the forest yet. I sat with him until I had to go to work and then I switched shifts with my barn manager. I hadn't got 15 minutes away when she called and said he was gone. I attribute this horrible case of colic to cribbing. He had sucked himself so full of air that when he rolled he twisted a gut and that was it. So that, is my horror story with cribbing and why it is a vice that cannot be ignored.

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The Dance of Dressage

When the video of top international rider Andreas Helgstrand on his mount Blue Hors Matine at the 2006 World Equestrian Games went around from equestrian email boxes, equestrians and non-equestrians alike around the nation agreed with the commentator--"the mare is absolutely dancing."The video demonstrates the real dance-like movements that the pair is gaining international recognition for--the strong passage and piaffe.The passage is a very collected trot with supsension and higher steps. The movement follows a rhythm (and, in this video, the rhythm really rocks to the music). In a correct passage, the height that the legs are lifted to is more dramatic with the front foreleg bending at the knee to 90 degrees. As in collected dressage work, the horse's poll is the highest point of the horse. His head is close to being on the vertical (that is, vertically pointing to the ground), but his nose is pointing forward just slightly forward of the vertical.The piaffe is an even more collected trot that looks like a trot in place or "trot on the spot." Like the passage, the steps are high and rhythmical. As the collection is to a greater degree from passage, the horse begins to "sit" even more in the hindquarters. The forelegs should lift as high as they do in the passage, but the hind legs do not because there is not a movement forward and because the hindquarters are sitting more.The very basics of teaching a horse piaffe and passage begins by improving his suspension at the trot. Beginning with poles on the ground and raising them until they are raised cavaletti will help a horse attain suspension, balance and rhythm. The goal of the rider is to help the horse maintain that suspension and rhythm when he passes the cavelletti.Just the little bit of suspension and rhythm that you will feel while working cavaletti will make you feel like you are dancing--almost like Andreas and Matine.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Keeping Your Barn Manager Happy Tip #1

#1 Pay Your Rent!
This is an obvious one isn’t it! Rent day is the happiest day for barn managers, especially when they get paid! Many barn managers do most of the barn work and they feel like they are finally getting paid for all their hard work when boarders pay their bills on time. Paying your board on time will also ensure that your barn manager doesn't place an agister's lien against you and your horse. There are many farms that are prepared to do this as soon as you are late on your rent because that is there only way of protecting themselves. If you have a problem paying your boarding, talk with your barn manager about the situation. Everybody has been in a financial jam before and they are generally willing to let you do farm chores or barn work in exchange for boarding your horse. It is always polite and professional to discuss the situation first rather than chance losing more money or a horse in the long run.

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The Tidy Tack Room Tip #1

Plastic storage containers with drawers are great for polo wraps, horse boots, and brushes. You can have a drawer for wraps, brushes, bathing supplies and medical supplies as well. They are also great if you live in an area where dust accumulates on everything, like in my West Texas barn. Everything inside will remain relatively clean and you can empty it and spray it down with the hose if necessary. If you have items that you use regularly, tote boxes with handles are great as well. These can be stored on top of the storage unit with items you use on a daily basis. Large plastic tubs are also handy for keeping unused saddle blankets and ropes in. Regularly check your tubs and containers for evidence of mice holes and chew marks, you may need to change them out periodically if the mice find a nice home in your saddle pads. This generally is problem during the winter months.

Evaluating Riding Instructors and Facilities

Finding a riding instructor suitable to your needs, experience, discipline and expectations isn't always easy. In my 30 years of riding and taking lessons, I've ridden with more than 15 different instructors, and that doesn't include clinicians. And, unfortunately, sometimes you might find a great riding instructor at a less-than-desirable facility. To make your evaluations, follow these easy steps:

> Discipline. First know what discipline you want to ride and select an instructor who is expert in that area. For example, if you want to ride dressage, you wouldn’t go to a hunter/jumper facility and expect its instructors to all know how to teach dressage.
> Certification. You can check with riding instructor associations to see which instructors are certified in your area. Certification is a great method of determining the qualifications of instructors; however, the certification process is very expensive (potentially costing more than $500). Many very experienced and qualified riding instructors choose not to obtain certification because of the expense. Some states, like Massachusetts, have an affordable certification process. But most states do not. (for example, the Certified Horsemanship Association and the American Riding Instructors Association have certification programs).
> Word of mouth. Tons of online equine bulletin boards have members from all over the country who are ready to make recommendations about their favorite riding instructors.
> Watch lessons. The best way to ascertain an instructor’s teaching methods, expertise and suitability for what you want to learn is by observing several lessons with riders and horses of different levels of ability and experience.
> Determine cost effectiveness. One instructor may charge $30 an hour and the other $100 per hour, but you need to determine how much information is being gained by the rider in the different lessons. In some cases, you’ll find the more expensive instructor may be an awful lot of hype over a name and you could have received the very same training, or better, from the $30 per hour instructor. In other cases, you might find the $30 per hour instructor is not nearly as knowledgeable and that you have gained as much information in one lesson from the $100 an hour instructor as you may get in four lessons from the $30 per hour instructor. Watch several lessons from each and watch them teach different levels of riders. You can also speak to their students to see how they feel they have progressed.
> Go to horse shows. Watch instructors with their students as they compete. You may find you are interested in lessoning with the instructor with the most riders who are being pinned first. Or you may find yourself interested in the instructor who, though having new riders who may not be pinning high in the ribbons, spends much quality time schooling the riders and coaching, providing emotional support. Keep in mind that some instructors prefer working with students who may have anxiety or fear when riding or showing, and though those students may not perform well under pressure, their instructors may be very capable teachers.
> Look at the lesson horses and evaluate the facility. Often this can make or break the decision to take lessons somewhere. Some lesson horses just don’t receive the care they should. Do they look fit and happy? Or are they trudging around the ring with sour faces and gimpy, sore legs. Are the lesson horses skin and bones or do they look as shiny and well fed as the privately owned horses? Certainly, many lesson horses are older semi-retired horses that may be serviceably sound with some arthritic or navicular stiffness, but plenty of successful riding academies manage to feed older horses well enough to keep their weight on and coats shiny. They also schedule lessons to ensure the horse’s receive time off. At the riding academy where I taught, several horses in their late 20s and 30s were still being shown and looked as healthy as the privately owned horses. In fact, the academy received on offer on a lesson horse at a horse show—he was 39 at the time, and no one believed his age. At this academy, Monday was dark day and no lessons went. In addition, every horse had an extra day off in the week. Plus, horses were never over jumped. Every other week was jump week (every other week was flat week.) And horses rarely ever went more than 1.5 hours of lessons a day, unless going in beginner walk-trot classes where they spent much of their time walking. When evaluating facilities, keep this in mind and see if you can get an idea of the type of schedules the lesson horses face.

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Equine Story Contest in March

Cribbing & Colic

Many people recognize that some horses have vices and all horse owners tend to live with them as best we can. Many people do not realize the seriousness of cribbing and how detrimental it can be to a horse's health. In Equine Health and Boarding Horses you will find an article called "Combatting Cribbing". Many boarded horses are cribbers and I thought it appropriate to include the article in this category as well. Now, I am going to tell you my horror story with cribbing.About three years ago I acquired a 4 year old Appendix Quarter Horse Gelding. He was easily pushing 17 hands and was named appropriately, "Big John." He was a beautiful bay and I had a lot of plans for him. Unfortunately, I only had him about a year before I lost him.Big John was an extreme cribber. The previous owner failed to alert me of this until after I had the horse and the owner of the boarding barn called to tell me he was cribbing on a t-post in the pasture. Then she gave me the cribbing collar that she had bought for him before. I didn't think much of it at the time, but I didn't really know the extent of it yet either. It seemed that the cribbing collar was helpful and he didn't really do it all that much.Then, I moved to a really nice boarding barn and he had a nice size stall and a good size run of his own. Then he became a cribbing monster. As soon as his last piece of grain was gone he turned to the nearest pole on the stall and started sucking air. So, we upgraded the cribbing collar. We got a Miracle Collar and it seemed to work pretty well.Months went by and all was good. The summer came and went and then in January my husband and I and some friends went to Las Vegas for a little vacation. The boarding barn manager took care of Big John and all was fine while we were gone. About three weeks later though that was it.I was on my way to feed when I got the phone call that he was down in his stall. When I pulled up to the barn they had him up and walking but he was shaking. He had prolapsed, which means his rectum was coming out of his rear. He was in extreme pain. We called every vet in town and nobody would come out!!! Only one would answer the phone, but he couldn't leave. There was no way this horse could ride in a trailer, he could barely stand up on his own. So, we were instructed to give him Banamine, and walk, walk, walk. I walked that horse all day. I did my best to keep him up. He had rolled and thrashed so viciously in the early morning that he had given himself a black eye and had rubbed hair of his body. I talked to the vet and he said it looked like he would be okay since the prolapse went in on its own, but he wasn't sure if were out of the forest yet. I sat with him until I had to go to work and then I switched shifts with my barn manager. I hadn't got 15 minutes away when she called and said he was gone. I attribute this horrible case of colic to cribbing. He had sucked himself so full of air that when he rolled he twisted a gut and that was it. So that, is my horror story with cribbing and why it is a vice that cannot be ignored.

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Understanding Your Dream Versus Your Horse’s Capability

Kara had gone out in search of a new riding horse after she had retired her aging Thoroughbred out to pasture at a retirement farm. In her mind, she envisioned a trail companion and a horse that she can take over some jumps in the woods—something steady in mind and sound of foot. She came home with a not quite yet 3-year-old gelding. When she realized she had made an impulsive buy of a cute horse, she bought 13-year-old quarter horse and turned the almost 3-year-old out to pasture to finish growing before she starts him under saddle.

When planning to buy a horse, potential owners need to ensure they know exactly what they want or don’t want. For some like Kara, even after realizing the mistake, she had already grown attached to the new horse and didn’t want to return him.

When purchasing a new horse, many new owners don’t just make the mistake of buying something that overfaces them by being too much to handle for their level, but they also fail to keep in mind their goals and the intention they had for buying a new horse.

When selecting your new horse, make a list of your goals and keep it with you to remind yourself as you are looking at horses. Make a checklist from it for each horse that you see and check off the items that the horse matches. Consider the items that he doesn’t match and decide if you are willing to live with that or if one positive offsets that negative.

On your list, consider:
Your budget versus your goal. Can you afford the horse you want?
Your riding goal NOW. Do you want a horse that is ready to show tomorrow? Do you want a trail horse? Do you want to start a youngster and realize that you won’t have something to ride for some time?
Your riding goal five years from now. Does this horse fit into a short- or long-term goal?
Your experience level now. Can you handle the horse now or will you need a trainer to assist you?
Where the horse can take you now. Will you be learning from him? Is he a dressage or jumper schoolmaster who can take you where you want to go now?
The horse’s age versus your plans now and in five years
The horse’s experience level now and how much work you will have to put into him. Do you have the ability to train a young, green horse?
With a young or green horse, are you willing to wait several years before he can even be competitive?
Do you have the time to put into a young or green horse or do you need a been-there-done-that type of a horse who doesn’t require the schooling time to be competitive.
Shopping for horses, especially for those of us who don’t do it often, can be like putting a kid in a candy shop. Each one can seem so beautiful, but you need to check their qualities off against your list to ensure that you keep a level head in the process and come home with the horse of your dreams, even if it means that your dream has changed in the process.

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Taking the First Ride

There was a time when many horse owners would bring their colts in from the pasture in the spring and then would let any cowboy they knew jump on them to begin their training. Well, today, many more people are realizing that doing this might not be such a good idea. They are also beginning to realize what an impact the first ride has on a colt.

Colt-starting clinics are more popular today than they have ever been. More and more people are looking at the mechanics of starting the colt versus just having any willing person jump on. When visiting the clinics, it is important to remember that these are professional horsemen and although you may have a lot of equine and riding experience under your belt, how many colts have you actually started? Not many people have had the experience of taking a colt from the halter breaking stage to the first ride stage and the professionals make it look very easy.

The point is that starting your own colt can be a very rewarding experience. Taking your colt from halter breaking and building a bond through groundwork is one of the most spectacular feelings you will ever feel. Before you decide to start your own colt, however, make sure that the risk is worth the reward and that you are willing to spend the time it takes to make sure your colt is ready for that first ride. Even if it means waiting a year and working on groundwork before you put your foot in the stirrup for the first time, the wait will be well worth it. The more mature and bonded your colt is with you, the better the first ride will be. Remember that the goal is to get on and he doesn’t buck. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t even want to move. Sitting on him will be rewarding enough.
Whomever you choose to give your colt his first ride, you should research thoroughly. You might even do a little soul searching yourself, because who knows-you might be the one who will give your colt the best start possible.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Reflections on Retraining an Ex-racehorse - Part 2 -" Bombproofing" My Horse

When the junior riders at the barn were working on exercises based on the book “Bombproof Your Horse” by Rick Pelicano, I thought it was a great opportunity to get my ex-racehorse, who is afraid of everything, to build some confidence.

Objects were strewn all over the arena—wood planks, a beach ball, brightly colored squishy foam logs kids use in the pool, and, most frightening of all—a big blue tarp, tentatively anchored in four corners by orange pylons.

As soon as we entered the arena, Lady’s head shot up and her eyes went wide. The girls had been walking their horses over the noisy planks and onto the blue tarp both in hand and under saddle. Getting Lady even near the objects was going to be a challenge.

I remained on the ground, leading her in hand through most of the scary objects, saving the worst for last. Surprisingly, she walked over the noisy wood planks and stepped over the bright squishy foam things, though snorting the entire time.

Then a well-timed wind gust blew up a corner of the blue tarp so it stood nearly three feet. I almost lost Lady as she ran backward with her weird lunging hops. When I caught up to her, I began leading her again, toward the blue tarp.

She snorted at it, her hooves dancing along the edges, as she refused to actually step on the tarp. I stepped on the tarp and faced her. Lady paused and looked at me with the closest look to disbelief a horse has to offer.

“See?” I said, hopping a bit. “It’s noisy, but it’s okay.” If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought she was mulling the idea around in her head. She snorted, sniffed the tarp, went to lift one hoof onto it, then thought better of it and jumped backward again.

After 20 minutes of this, through sheer exhaustion or the final realization we were not leaving the arena, she stepped onto the tarp with both front feet, and leaning way back on her haunches. It didn’t take much coaxing out of this awkward stance to get all four feet on the tarp. She stood and trembled.

After about 10 repetitions of walking onto the blue tarp, I decided to attempt the entire exercise mounted, which was a challenge because Lady had greater confidence when I was on the ground. She seems to forget I’m there when I’m astride.

But I did my driving seat, imaging that I was moving a book across a table with my hips, while closing my calves against her sides, and she walked over the noisy wood planks, the brightly colored squishy logs, and circled the beach ball.

Now it was time to attempt the tarp.

Driving seat. Squeeze calves. Driving seat. Squeeze calves.

Dead stop on the edge. Snorting. Trembling. Leaning backward.

Driving seat! Squeezing calves! Driving seat!

And she was on the tarp. For a second, we were both equally shocked. She sort of tip-toed quickly off of it, but with more urging, walked over the tarp several more times, and with each approach, she moved more boldly than the last.

Once we were done, as a reward, I let her trot long and low around the empty part of the arena. I was talking and laughing with the girls who had been secretly watching our successful tarp adventure when Lady suddenly halted, front legs splayed wide. Not paying attention, I nearly ended up on her neck. There was nothing around to spook her, so I was a bit perplexed. She snorted, lowering her head to the spot on the ground that spooked her.

That spot was her own hoof print.

I sighed. Driving seat. Squeezing calves. Driving seat.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Reflections on Retraining a Racehorse

When I was a teen rider in the 80s, I rode with an instructor who purchased off-the-track racehorses for resale. Because of my slight frame, I was the first rider to get on these horses who were just a day’s trailer ride from their last race.
After some nightmarish runaways, layers of ripped gloves, blistered hands, and some launches through fencing, at least I had come away with some experience, no terrible injuries and a healthy respect for a horse that was bred to run at breakneck speed. That is, until I recently acquired my off-the-track racehorse Lady.
Lady became an option when a horsewoman I knew said she didn’t have much use for her except as a broodmare. But she felt that Lady needed a job besides raising foals. Lady had been taken off the track by her friend who had soon died from cancer. Working with Lady, I had been trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to pull from memories of the racehorses I reworked 20 years ago. She was terrified of any change in her environment, for example, if boxes appeared outside the stall, a new steel feed bin instead of plastic, or a flowerpot in front of the barn. She would rear or bolt if the ground changed in color or consistency, like going from sand to grass. She was even afraid of the flattened tracks that a grass mower leaves behind. Getting her to and from the indoor arena, which was several yards from the barn, had been a challenge, but she began working consistently quietly in the indoor arena.
The biggest obstacle to overcome, however, was riding outdoors, especially if I ever wanted to show her. When maintenance was being performed on the indoor arena one day, I was forced to revisit riding outdoors earlier than I had hoped. Our previous outdoor experiment ended with bucking, rearing and me on my butt. Now I had no choice but to either bag riding altogether for the day or attempt it outside again. It was time to suck it up and see what would happen.
She snorted the whole way to the outdoor arena. Leaves blew across the sand, and she danced over them like they were attacking her. Her body trembled, but I used the longe line to allow her to have me in her sight while she worked quietly at the walk and trot only. Like all our sessions, the workout was about building confidence and learning, never about running the energy out of her.I walked and trotted her on 10 longe circles total. She was snorting, but her eye started to soften. That’s when I decided to get on. I removed the longe equipment and walked her to the mounting block, but as her head shot up, I realized I had made a fatal error.
The mounting block was in direct line of the pig pen, and the pigs had no idea that it was supposed to be too cold for them to be outside of their heated shed. They were milling about, grunting and rummaging for food. Lady was immobilized by terror.
Typically, when we were in this scenario previously, Lady would start rearing. But this day she didn’t. I kept talking to her, apologizing for not seeing that they were out, muttering to myself that I don’t know why they’re out. It’s too darned cold and windy. But, in the back of my mind, I thought, danged pigs know when the gray horse is around, they always come out when they see her. They love to scare her.
I grabbed the mounting block and walked with it and her up to the other side of the arena, the block banging against my bad leg still swollen from when she impaled me into the indoor arena wall last week. She was prancing and snorting, bringing to mind all the "I just love Arabians" comments she gets, even though she's not an Arabian.
Now came the difficult decision. Did I risk mounting? Her head was so high up as the pigs held her complete attention. Her 16.1 hands seemed more like 18 now.
Just get on. See it through, I thought.
"I'm not 20 years old anymore, Lady Jane," I said as I swung my bad leg over her back. "I don't heal that easy. Be good."
I was on. The horse was still shaking, shivering, with fear. Or was that me?
I put her through her usual paces, loosening her up, gaining her attention, asking for more, and after 20minutes of a successful, quiet, forward and submissive trot work, I briefly considered cantering. But as she had the typical ex-racehorse right lead canter issue, I decided it was better to live another day and attempt it tomorrow. Dealing with the pigs was enough of a win.
Teary with pride, it didn’t occur to me that it was going to be an ugly situation trying to get her by the pigs back to the barn.Would I now undo all that we had gained in this session?
Leading her from the outdoor arena, I decided to walk her on the off side, placing myself between her and the pigs, which were grunting acknowledgment to the frightened gray horse. I kept saying aloud softly and encouragingly, as I always do, “It’s okay. It’s okay. They can’t hurt you. You’re bigger than them.” This time, she paused one hoof off the ground, and shocked me by turning full face to look me in the eye, as if to ask “Really? Are you sure?” I patted her, she snorted, looked at me, over my shoulder at them, then turned forward to continue her fast walk pace, but without a rear or a bolt. It’s often small steps with an off-the-track racehorse that mean most, and for me, more than any blue ribbon ever did.
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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Equine Cancer

Many horse owners are unaware of the fact that horses can also develop cancer. Usually our fair skinned white equines are the ones that are more susceptible because they have sensitive white areas that can develop skin cancer easily. However, horses may develop internal tumors as well and this is something to watch for if a horse does not seem to be doing well, but doesn't really seem sick either. In the Equine Health section, you will find an article that covers the basics of what cancer horses can develop and the treatments used.As I was writing this article it reminded me of an Arabian mare that I briefly knew. I had been at my boarding barn for a month or so and a new girl arrived with a beautiful bay Arabian mare. Her parents had bought it for her and they believed that she was pregnant because of her round belly.In fact, we all thought the mare was pregnant and were happily awaiting the day she would foal. Unfortunately, a very short time later about a week or so, the mare had a horrible seizure. She busted through the wall in her stall and into a pen with some other horses. She also broke through a fence before she finally laid there dead. The event was tragic and happened early in the morning when the other boarders were arriving to throw the morning feed. The event was unbelievable and we didn't know what had happened.Shortly later, the vet came and confirmed that the mare was not pregnant. The mare had a tumor the size of a basketball in her stomach. This was the first experience that I had ever had with equine cancer. The mare was beautiful and it was a sad loss, but she never showed any signs of being ill. It just goes to show that cancer can creep up on our dearly beloved horses as well.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

When You Can’t Have Your Own Horse: Sometimes Life Isn’t Fair for a Reason

As an instructor, I see young students from different economic levels. Many come from families who struggle and make sacrifices to pay for lessons while others are comfortable enough to buy several horses. When one of my students voiced her frustrations that her parents couldn’t afford a horse but her friend was getting a beautiful expensive warmblood, I immediately remembered back to when I was a junior rider still on lesson horses while my friend had two horses.

“It’s not fair,” my student muttered. She desperately wanted her own horse.

“Life isn’t fair,” I answered. “It just isn’t, and that’s way it goes. Once you accept that fact, you can move on instead of complaining about it.”

I told her that though I grew up riding, my family was never rich. My dad was a police officer and my mom a nurse. I worked in riding camp, cleaned my own stalls and took money for schooling horses.

Then we talked about other options to not having a horse like finding free leases, shared leases, half boards, schooling sale horses or even getting paid to exercise privately owned horses. It’s possible to find because I found them even as a young adult before I could afford my own horse.

I told her that now is the time to ride every horse you can, to learn as much as you can and to decide what types of horses you really like. Now is the time to learn how to school different types of horses, to take advantage of not being strapped down to one horse. Now she can look forward to having fun on the college equestrian teams where you can’t use your own horse anyway. So when the day comes when she can afford a horse, she’ll have the requisite knowledge, experience and understanding for buying and owning her own horse.

Having your own horse is a great thing, but it can also be restricting in many ways. A rider who has access to all different types of horses keeps her skills fresh, but a rider who continually rides the same horse or the same type of horse loses her skills and her timing quickly. I see that in my students, and I see it in myself.

Life may not be fair, and some people may have to work extra hard to get what they really want. But it makes it so much more rewarding when it all works out in the end.
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AQHA Helps Us Out Once Again

AQHA is helping us out again by providing us with a free service that we can all use. If you are an owner or breeder this will be of even more value to you. Equine Viral Arteriritis is a devastating infectious viral disease that mainly causes abortions in mares. It rarely kills mature horses, but it can destro your breeding season if mares and stallions have not been vaccinated. Horses that have also been diagnosed with the disease can also be banned from entering foreign countries. For many breeders this is important as even horse semen from from horses with EVA antibodies can be kept from being shipped to breeders over seas. This is an excellent service that is being offered to horse owners and breeders. Breeders need to know if a horse has been tested or if they are positive or negative as this disease can have a dramatic impact on a breeding farm. Breeders can instantly find this information out by making one phone call.The AQHA is offering to keep documentation in your horse's file as to whether or not they have been vaccinated for EVA. A horse may have many different owners over the course of his life and it only makes sense that AQHA keeps the vaccination certificate with the horse's records. The process is simple. All you have to do as a horse owner is have your horse vaccinated and complete the official AQHA EVA Report Form. The form will become a part of your horse's permanent records at AQHA. The form does not serve as an import and export documentation but does allow for owners and breeders to call and confirm that a horse has been vaccinated.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Foaling and Breeding Season is Nearing!

The weather may still be quite cold in some parts of the country right now, but there are many mare owners starting to prepare for their new arrivals. There are also several mares that are being prepared for the breeding season. Because of this, it is important that mare owners begin educating themselves on the diseases and conditions that they want to be sure and prevent.Equine Viral Arteritis is becoming a popular topic amongst breeders these days as they are beginning to realize the effect that the disease can have on their breeding operations. Because of this, the AQHA is helping out mare owners and breeding farms by offering a free service that will allow owners to send their horse's EVA vaccination information to the association for safe keeping. Foalhood septicemia is responsible for as many foal deaths as pneumonia is. The foal is very susceptible to various infections as soon as they are born. Good breeding and foaling practices will help to prevent foals from becoming infected by these various infections. As foals are born earlier and earlier every year, this means that they are going to be exposed to different strains of bacteria and pneumonia because they are exposed to a climate they were not meant to be born in. Prevention methods such as insuring the foaling stall is clean and disinfected and that the barn is well-ventilated will help ensure that your foal arrives healthy and stays healthy. Visit the Equine Health articles for more information on these various infectious diseases that affect many breeders and mare owners on a regular basis. There are many preventative methods that will ensure both mom and baby stay healthy through the breeding and foaling season.
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Rescued from the Killer

Talk about timing. I had been doing a bit of research on the horse slaughter issue, including the types of horses usually sent to slaughter, etc. My friend Joanie and I sometimes get into heated discussions about it because she doesn't support the bill to end horse slaughter and I do. I don't think that a recent event may change our respective stances, but it certainly shone a light on a different perspective. At the very least, it was ironic in its timing and just how it played out. True story...It’s been one of the coldest weeks on record for my area of the country, so when I noticed a new horse at the barn, I was surprised. It was an odd time of year to see one come in. “You like her?” Joanie asked. “Sure, she’s real cute.”

Renamed Lola after the Kink’s song that was playing on the radio when Joanie picked her up, the new horse is just 2 years old and is a draft/thoroughbred cross. Her owner couldn’t handle a young horse and instead of trying to find a new owner who could, called the killer to come pick her up. Soft-hearted horsefolk at the barn went into a flurry of activity to try to find an alternative buyer before the killer truck made its way through town. Amazingly, in one day, they found a new buyer--Joanie--and an available stall--after Joanie shuffled her horses around. So, instead of being sold for $700 of horsemeat, Lola was sold for $700 as a riding prospect—maybe foxhunter, maybe eventer, maybe just a solid all arounder.

Why the disposable mentality for such a horse, I wonder. Is life that cheap to people? Or is it just a horse’s life that is so cheap? Or is it because it’s just too easy to call the killer?

This scenario amazes me especially because this horse is sound, young and healthy and also because draft/thoroughbred crosses are becoming the rage for people who want the athleticism of the thoroughbred without the flightiness or the sensitivity. The draft blood makes for a solidly built animal with a quiet, easy-going mind. Practical Horseman just ran an article extolling the virtues of unique crosses including draft/thoroughbreds, and Rutgers University’s young horse training program specifically targets this type of crossing to produce all-arounders that appeal to many. Heck, I was considering going to the next Rutger's auction for a draft/thoroughbred cross and, in looking at previous auction results for such crossings, thought $1800 would be a great deal!

Plus, Lola really doesn’t look like a draft cross. Whoever bred her took the effort to breed for a baby that isn’t clunky while still having good dense bone and a pretty face that isn’t heavy draft looking at all. And she’s a cute mover and isn’t built like the draft horses that are built to pull carts.

Was it the money? The killer would only pay $700, and if the owner took the time to actually sell her to someone, he could have made more money. The Rutgers babies auction for higher than $700, usually more in the $1500-$2200 range. The lack of logic is astounding. Maybe he’s just cruel and dumb.

But at least the end is a happy one. Lola won’t end up on someone’s plate in Japan and instead has a wonderful new owner who will take the time to train her. And Joanie has a really nice new prospect that is worth more than what she paid for her.

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A Farewell to Horseracing: RIP Barbaro

My mom, now in her 60s, won’t watch horse racing anymore. Some years ago, she and my dad had gone to the track, and several horses in the field tumbled. Two horses were destroyed. It was enough for her to never want to see another race again.

For me and my dad, during my childhood, time at the track was father-daughter time—maybe an odd thing for family interest, but it was a way in which we both shared our love for horses. My dad still laughs at how long it took him to realize that my estimate of a horse as being “pretty” went far deeper into an analysis of the potential run ability. At just 12-years-old, and with only two years of riding lessons under my belt, I would go down to the paddock to watch the post parade and pick which horses I thought were pretty. After those horses won consistently, and the track handicappers were looking over my shoulder for my picks, my dad finally asked what I meant by “pretty.” I told him how I sized them up based on conformation and length of race—big, long-strided horses with nicely sloped shoulders for distance or close-coupled, compact, uphill built horses for short distances that required quick speed.

But the most recent tragedy with Barbaro has brought back memories of other track moments that I’ve tried to forget. Like the death of jockey Chris Antley just one year after his Kentucky Derby win aboard Charismatic. I had such a teenage crush on Antley when he raced at Monmouth Park, N.J. For those who watched the Triple Crown run in 1999, who could forget Charismatic’s Derby and Preakness win and the country’s hopes for a new Triple Crown winner as he moved into the Belmont?

Unfortunately, at the Belmont, Charismatic broke down in the stretch, losing his lead and finishing third, with his left front leg broken in two places. Antley’s immediately dismounted from the horse and as the cameras closed in on the jockey, who was holding up the horse’s left front hoof (and saving the animal’s life), tears streamed down the rider’s face.

Charismatic’s career may have ended there, but surgery saved his life. Unfortunately, Antley faced many demons in his life, including trying to make the weight to maintain his eligibility as a jockey, and ended up overdosing on drugs—a sad end to a talented rider who seemed to truly care for his mounts.

But the racing heartache really began in 1975 for me. I was 8 years old when Ruffian ran her last race—the match race against the top colt Foolish Pleasure. The moment of her breakdown is still fresh as I watched the race and its tragic end unfold with my parents—all of us rooting for the filly phenomenon. I didn’t understand what was happening as the filly was being pulled up, her hoof, flopping uselessly. I glanced at my father for an answer, but he looked stricken. My mother had her hand over her mouth in mid gasp. For someone who barely can recall what she ate for lunch yesterday, I’m amazed at how grotesquely clear the memory still remains fresh in my mind like it was just moments ago.

Remembering this moment, I look at my retired racehorse—now my dressage horse—a sweet, people- , horse- and dog-loving animal without a mean bone in her body-- and think that she could have easily been another track breakdowns statistic.

Now after Barbaro’s death, I’ve become like my mom, I just can’t watch horse racing anymore. Not until the racing rules change so they stop breaking and racing babies so young. I’ll start watching racing again when the industry gives these horses a better chance at maintaining their health and not breaking down.
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