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American Horse Council Meets With DOT-FMCSA Over ELD Mandate

Trailers of the East Coast/Flickr/CC.

Last week the American Horse Council (AHC), which advocates for the nation’s equine industry, met with leadership in the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to clarify some of the concerns raised by horse owners and equine professionals regarding the new electronic logging device (ELD) mandates.

At the end of January, the AHC sent a letter to Secretary Elaine Chao of the Department of Transportation, raising concerns about ambiguous language and requesting an equine industry-specific statement about who will be required to comply with the ELD mandate. In efforts to help clarify what is considered a CMV and who is affected by the ELD mandate, the AHC also created two brochures defining who needs a commercial driver’s license and describing the need-to-know information about electronic logging devices.

The DOT reported to the AHC that a new website would be released this week, specifically designed for the agricultural industry and including a contact dedicated specifically to agricultural questions. An FAQ page will also be developed to specifically address agricultural-related questions.

The DOT also clarified that drivers who are not engaged in business, regardless of combined weight of truck and trailer, are not considered commercial drivers and do not need to comply with CMV regulations. Going to an event issuing prize or prize money does not in itself constitute a commercial activity for amateur/non-professional horse owners.

Federal regulations started phasing in ELDs over the course of several years, with the latest step to require ELDs in all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) by December 18, 2017. The ELD records driving hours in an effort to better enforce laws stating that operators of CMVs cannot drive more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period; drivers need to rest for a mandatory 10 hours before they can hit the road again. Drivers found breaking this rule can be fined.

The definition of a CMV can be a little murky — anyone engaged in a business venture with their truck and trailer, write their rig off as a business expense, compete professionally or even haul their friend’s horse and split the gas money can all be considered professionals and the rig classified as a commercial vehicle; rigs of a certain combined weight are classified as CMVs as well. There are also additional (and confusing) exemptions.

Many equine professionals who had either previously “flown under the radar” with logging hours or were not aware of their commercial vehicle status were suddenly faced with the reality of having this law enforced to the detriment of horses’ well-being: imagine having to stop during your long trip home from a faraway show for 10 additional mandated rest hours, due to unforeseen circumstances or delays on the road. What do you with your horses on the trailer?

The DOT issued a 90-day waiver for the agricultural industry to comply with the latest step in the ELD mandate, pushing the deadline back to March 18, 2018 — which has bought some time for advocacy and industry groups to work with the government to find a better solution for both commercial drivers and the livestock they’re hauling, taking the health and well-being of the animals into better account.

Further reading:

Huufe: The Equestrian Social Network We’ve All Been Waiting For

The first viable social media platform just for equestrians, Huufe combines a marketplace and ride tracking with your favorite social media functionality to create a unique experience. Horse Nation speaks with CEO Charlie Trietline for an exclusive first look.

For those of us who post more on social media about our horses than anything else in our life, for those of us who track every ride with another between-the-ears photo, for those of us whose various feeds look like a horse show lineup, for those of us who use social media as a way to buy, sell and network with other horse people all over the globe: Huufe is coming to combine all of these functions into one platform, developed by equestrians for equestrians.

Huufe CEO Charlie Trietline knows this equestrian world well: his father was a National Hunt trainer with 80 to 100 horses under his care. “As soon as I was able, I was riding,” Trietline details to Horse Nation. “I rode as an amateur jockey for awhile, then joined the army.” It wasn’t just any army regiment: Trietline was a member of the famous Household Cavalry, serving both as reconnaissance all over the world and “the ceremonial stuff,” as Trietline calls it. He followed his service with a decade working for Hewlett-Packard in the technology sector.

This combination of experiences gave Trietline plenty of ideas, but there was one idea in particular that he mulled over for weeks, then months: a social media platform that was part marketplace, part ride tracker, part community and all for equestrians. “I looked back at my life, I took the best bits of everything, and put them together. The more friends I spoke to about it, the more told me, ‘Charlie, this is quite good.'” Huufe was born.

Activity feed as shown in the web app.

More than an app

“There’s an emerging trend among these big, general platforms,” Trietline describes. “The big platforms are fragmenting a bit, and smaller communities are coming out of these larger networks. People are after a unique experience, which is what’s led to the creation of separate social media platforms for other niche groups, like cycling or running. The equestrian world has so far been underserved with such platforms… and I saw the opportunity to create something bespoke and special.”

Huufe is more than another app to add to your phone: it’s a free and fully-fledged social network of its own, with functionality on both mobile and computer. On Huufe, users will be able to post their user profile, connect with other equestrians, post photos and videos and track their equine-related activity — using a smartphone, users can track their entire ride in real time. Users can create and join groups to foster community within Huufe, based on anything from geographic location to favorite breed to discipline to whatever users can come up with.

Activity feed as shown on mobile.

Premium users — Trietline ballparks the price for a premium account around $7 a month — can add horse profiles and then use Huufe’s management tools to track health schedules as well as a stable management calendar. Premium accounts also have accident detection technology at their disposal: the user’s smartphone will be able to detect a fall and text three designated contacts if a fall alarm is not turned off within a certain amount of time.

Users can also access the marketplace, where horses and equipment can be listed for free. Huufe’s marketplace, in conjunction with its in-depth horse profiles, offers a comprehensive look at a horse’s background and experience like no other network.

Marketplace, as shown in the web app.

Trietline emphasizes that once the initial network is launched, Huufe will be user-driven: “Added functionality will be based on what the Huufe community wants to see.” In the works are a set of features for equestrian service providers, such as farriers and vets, to be able to build a service directory, as well as eventual gait analysis for the ride tracking feature.

User experience

While many aspects of Huufe might visually look similar to Facebook, there are a few key differences — namely, that there will be zero advertising. “That’s a strict rule for me,” Trietline states. “It will be a unique experience for users, rather than scrolling through ads to get to what you want to see.”

Instead, Huufe seeks to emphasize the community aspect through its groups feature. “It’s a more intimate experience,” Trietline describes. “Individual members’ activity will flow into the group setting and build that sense of community.”

Ride tracking as shown on mobile.

Of course, social media has become known not only for bringing people together, but sometimes tearing them apart — Trietline was quick to address the concept of bullying. “We have a very strict code of conduct for all users, and reporting functionality for all posts so that they can be reviewed by the team for anything that goes against that code of conduct. This is a very serious point for us: that kind of behavior goes against everything we’re trying to do here, and we will not tolerate it.”

It’s clear from speaking with Charlie Trietline that his passion truly lies in developing and sustaining an equestrian community via Huufe, and it appears that no stone has been left unturned on the long road of development and design.

What’s next?

Alpha testing will begin in March with a small group of about thirty to forty users. “There will still be a bit of tidying up to do at this stage, and those alpha testers will be making sure everything is ready to go.”

By late spring, Trietline plans to have the beta version available for download in smartphone app stores and open online, with users able to operate in test mode. If all goes well in beta version, marketing the full version of Huufe will take place in early June.

You can sign up now at huufe.com to join the email list for updates and become a beta tester, and follow on social media so you’ll know when Huufe is ready to welcome you: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Go riding!

Best of HN: Rehoming Racehorses & the Thoroughbred Makeover with Amy Lynn Paulus

Since its inception in 2013, the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover has helped bring awareness to the versatility of the off the track Thoroughbreds (OTTB) in secondary careers. Each year, the number of applications for participation have grown immensely, an exciting development not only for the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) but also for those who are passionate about finding OTTBs second careers — such as Amy Lynn Paulus.

With each Makeover that passes, the number of entries with horses rehomed by Amy grows in size. We caught up with Amy to hear how the Thoroughbred Makeover has impacted the industry and what makes her so passionate about the Thoroughbreds.

With a family history on the racetrack, Amy was destined to have a heart for the industry. At the tender age of two years old, Amy rode her first OTTB and she was hooked on the breed. “I officially rehomed my first OTTB that I retrained at the age of thirteen,” she mentioned. “And I have been rehoming them ever since!”

Amy with two of the OTTBs at her facility. Provided by Amy Lynn Paulus

What started as a side gig for fun developed into a demanding career over time. Amy has rehomed thousands of horses into new careers and has no intention of stopping any time soon. “My goal for last year was to total a horse a day by the end of the year; that goal was far exceeded rehoming over five hundred horses,” she revealed. “I’ve decided to push myself and give myself a goal of almost double and I’d like to single-handedly rehome eight hundred this year.”

As someone who has purchased not one, but two “Paulus ponies,” the driving factor for me behind buying from Amy was her years of experience, close relation to each horse’s track connections, and passion for the breed. Her understanding of each horse helps her place them in new homes where they will be successful and several of her graduates have gone on to bigger and better careers.

April Moritz-Dye and Paulus graduate, Triple Down. Photo provided by April Moritz-Dye

“The great thing with what I do is I get to see a wide variety of disciplines and horses that I know excelling in them. I’ve had several horses make it to American Eventing Championships, jumpers go south to Florida for the winter show circuit, barrel horses clocking right outside of 1D times, Huntmaster horses, great working ranch ponies, and polo horses competing successfully in Wellington all within a year of them coming off the track. These horses are so smart and their work ethic and willingness to learn is amazing.”

Amy acknowledges that a great place for these horses to get their start is at the Thoroughbred Makeover. “The Makeover has opened up a door for these OTTBs that would have never existed. The Makeover is filled with both knowledge and experience, being one of the only places where amateurs can show against professionals on a level playing field in an atmosphere that feels like a rated show while also feeling like a family,” she shared. “The RRP puts so much work into not only the show itself but also sharing the education needed for buying an OTTB, and they try to put everyone on the right path and set riders and potential buyers up for success.”

Holly Tiszai and Paulus graduate, Peace at Last. Photo provided by Holly Tiszai

Each year, horses rehomed through Amy make up the largest number of entries placed by one connection. Last year 35 trainers from all over the country got together to create Team RRPaulus, a group of trainers who purchased their Makeover mounts through Amy. This year, she anticipates an even larger turnout of RRPaulus riders. “So far we have 53 trainers accepted with horses purchased from me for 2018. There are still trainers looking for their RRP mounts so I am hoping I’m able to find at least a handful of those that are still looking their mount.”

But this career path isn’t just about the numbers for Amy. “Seeing breeders, owner, trainers, grooms, and jockeys happy about horses they have been affiliated with makes me happy and makes me feel like I am truly making a difference for these horses’ lives after racing.” Often, those race connections make the trek to the Kentucky Horse Park to watch their former racers excel in their new homes and at new careers. “Those who can’t make it always are so thankful and happy to get pictures or videos I take for them and at the end of the day I believe they’re the horse’s biggest fan.”

Erica Addison and Paulus graduate, Aristarchus. Photo provided by Erica Addison

When asked if she would ever step into the ring as a competitor, Amy gave this humble reply: “I can’t say if I’ll ever make an appearance competing, though this year I debated entering because it would be such a fun experience. Over the years I’ve been able to schedule, multitask and find a balance so I’m able to get back in the saddle and continue doing what I love. But, I feel like my purpose at the RRP is to be there catching all the moments I can for these horses I’ve rehomed, to be there cheering them on, helping however I can and being a part of the family I’ve created.”

To learn more about Amy Lynn Paulus and her “Paulus ponies,” join the Facebook group here. Go riding!

Sorry, Folks: No Budweiser Clydesdale Super Bowl Commercial This Year

If you’re one of the many equestrians who watch the Super Bowl expressly so you can eat junk food and watch the annual masterpiece that is the cinematic Budweiser Clydesdale commercial, I have a bit of bad news this year: there is no Budweiser Clydesdale commercial.

For some of us (such as myself) this is kind of good news, because I usually have to excuse myself from the room so I can dab at my eyes in private. (The draft horses, man! They just GET me!)

For most of us, however, this is kind of a rip. Budweiser did attempt to mollify what it probably foresaw as a wave of public outcry, however, and released this Internet spot, featuring a noble Clyde thundering all over the country like some sort of harbinger of beer:

Well, it’s better than nothing. (This ad will also run on TV on the days after the game.)

Budweiser has also promised that it will again be hosting its Clydesdale Super Bowl party, so you can keep an eye out for a quick spot during the game’s many commercial breaks that will let you know where you can watch the big horses on live cam just being horses. (Or, you know, you can go outside and look at your own horses. That works too.)

Until 2019, when we hope that the Clydesdales will be back for some Super Bowl tear-jerker action, here are the best big-game commercials from the past few years. Enjoy!

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009 (bonus: there were two this year!)

2010

2011 wasn’t very Clydesdale-y, so we skipped it… moving on to 2012:

2013

2014

2015

Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section!

As seen on …

Best of JN: The German Riding Instructor is the Hilarious Hero the H/J World Needs

In a hunter-jumper world that could desperately do with a laugh and a little light-hearted fun right about now, the German Riding Instructor — that is, Ronny Reimer of RCR Equestrian — is here to help.

His selfie videos “live from Ockla, Tyron and Weglington” point out the funnier things about that strange circus that is the winter showing circuit. Here are a few of our favorites.

Wellington is like Oprah Winfrey …. #ronnyriemer #GERMANRIDINGINSTRUCTOR #wellington #pbiec #horses #jumper #rcr #rcrequestrian #palmbeach #westpalmbeach #horseshow #grandprix #welcome #amazing #awesome #great #marketing #advertising @esp_wef @ronnyriemer @rcrequestrian @chnullie

Posted by The German Riding Instructor on Thursday, December 28, 2017

Impressive ! Must see architecture 🐴😊👍🏻💚 #rcr #rcrequestrian #GERMANRIDINGINSTRUCTOR #video #tampa #castle #king #amazing #awesome #twist #soda #coke #cola #pepsi #horses #horseshow #grandprixsundays #funny #love #advertising #marketing @germanridinginstructor @chnullie @rcrequestrian

Posted by The German Riding Instructor on Sunday, December 10, 2017

Top of the standard !!!!
Holy cow ! (Like the Indians would say) 😂😂😂
#TBTuesday #oldbutgold @marcusgruenthal

Posted by The German Riding Instructor on Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Follow The German Riding Instructor and never miss a video.

Go Jumping!

Best of HN: ‘Down the Fence’ Documentary Review

Explaining one’s discipline to onlookers — even onlookers within the equestrian world — can be a tricky business. In every discipline, from hunters to eventing to fine harness driving to reining, there are nuances and details that are difficult to explain, and few of us are up to the even more difficult task of explaining why we were attracted to that discipline in the first place.

While competing has taken a backseat to other goals in my horse life, reined cow horse was my discipline of choice for many years, and while it may appear to simply be chasing cattle in circles, there is of course much more going on than observers can possibly see: even for a naturally-gifted animal with cow sense, reined cow horse is a true triathlon involving three unique skill sets that calls on horse and rider to give everything they’ve got in grit, heart and courage. This is the world depicted in Down the Fence.

The documentary skillfully intertwines the individual stories of five professional trainers along with the history of reined cow horse, tracing what is now an arena discipline back to its roots in vaquero horsemanship and Spanish riding traditions. Down the Fence highlights the bygone traditions of reined cow horse and the living, evolving history of western horsemanship while thankfully avoiding getting bogged down in a “how the west was won” tale or the complicated landscape of modern ranching and the cowboy way of life. The documentary remains purely a look at the sport itself.

“Show, don’t tell” is a guiding mantra in creative writing, and the filmmakers heeded this advice in the documentary as well: through telling the stories of the five trainers — Brandon Buttars, Kelby Phillips, Erin Taormino, Jake Telford and Doug Williamson — I got a distinct impression of what makes each story unique and each individual relatable without assigning stereotypical roles (while some of these folks could probably be described as “underdogs,” “up and comers” or “old hands,” the film doesn’t ever apply these labels). There’s no antagonist; I wanted to root for everyone as the documentary follows the progression of the reined cow horse season through its five major shows, ending with the Snaffle Bit Futurity.

Peppered with interviews and conversations from not only the five featured trainers but a huge array of professionals and horsemen from the reined cow horse industry, I was moved by the real sense of camaraderie in reined cow horse: no one can make it alone. The segment in which horsemen spoke about the relationship and bond between horse and rider definitely had me reaching for the box of tissues — and there wasn’t a single moment of anthropomorphism or mysticism, just honest, open talk about why humans will always love horses.

Down the Fence isn’t a behind-the-scenes training doc or exposé, but it’s a beautiful piece of cinematography, a love letter to the discipline of reined cow horse. For me, it was a reminder of what made me fall in the love with the discipline in the first place and inspiration to look forward to returning to the show pen again soon. I’d love to hear the thoughts of a viewer who has never ridden reined cow horse before to see if the film hit all the same high notes, but I suspect that it will.

Screen shot via trailer

Down the Fence is brand-spanking new to Netflix to watch for free, but is also available for rent or purchase on DVD as well as a number of streaming services. Click here to view all options. Learn more about the film at the documentary’s website.

Ah-ha! Moment of the Week from Attwood: The Best Advice You’ve Ever Received

Many eventers have encountered a special horse, had a breakthrough competition, or experienced a revelation during training that changed … well … everything. In a new weekly series presented by Attwood Equestrian Surfaces, eventers share their ah-ha! moments. 

Earlier this week EN’s sister site Horse Nation asked readers to share the best piece of advice about horses they had ever received in their lives.  Readers had plenty to say, and Kristen Kovatch decided to put all of that good advice in one place for the horsey Internet to enjoy. Now, we’re passing it on to you — and we want to hear YOUR best advice in the comments!

“Have a great ride” is always good advice! Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Sit back. Sit BACK! SIT BACK!!!” –Denise Kirby

“1. Forward. 2. Inside leg to outside rein.” –Diana Guttenberg DeYoung

“‘When turning out a horse, walk all the way through the gate and turn the horse toward you. Unsnap the lead as you’re backing out of the gate.’ I understood the importance of that advice after watching one person get dragged about 50 ft. and another take a hoof to the face from a frisky buck. Thanks, Stephanie England-Grey!!!” –Elsa Hale

“In working with OTTBs: love, patience and kindness.” –Lexi Poteat Pejnovic

Look where you are going and stay by yourself. Told to me by Victor Hugo-Vidal.” –Dee Kysor

Steer with your boobs!” –Jill Lowe

“Breathe.” –Jan Moller, Aradia Diane Willard, Mary McGaughy Neely and MaryAnn Isaacson

Train a horse well and you’ll never have to worry about his future.” –Jamie Maguire

Don’t micro manage your horse. Let them make mistakes so you can make the corrections. That’s how they’ll learn.” –Nissa Sjoberg

“Wet saddle blankets make good horses.” –Melissa Brown

Leave your emotions out of the saddle.” –Ashley Rose

80% of the time, things are going to work out just fine no matter what you do. 10% of the time everything will go wrong no matter what you do. You really only need to be a good enough horse person to deal with the remaining 10%. If you think of it this way, it gets easier to not second guess yourself.” –Abigail Emily Martin

If it is not fun at any time… get off.” –Gidget Treadway

Not one training method will work for all horses or riders. Do what works for you.” –Stephanie Cantrell

A. Wear a helmet always, even on the ground. B. Ride the horse you have, not the horse you want. (As in, don’t force the horse to be something he’s not, and don’t skip ahead in training.)” –Caitlin Last

“If you come off get back on!!” –Robbyn White Gray

Always be planning several steps ahead. You can’t expect your horse to move forward with confidence if you have no idea where you’re going.” –Karina Brown

Smile, smile, smile!” –Joy Pernat

You will never know enough.” –Pauline MadEye Wheeler

You are either training or untraining.” –Brigette McGhay Cosgrove

Never take on more horses then you can afford on your own. A free horse is NEVER free.” –Michelle Larsen

Quiet but firm, leg before hands, no matter what you are doing… you are either training him or untraining him.” –Roxann Gill

You’ve already committed to getting in the saddle. Do not hesitate, breathe and get on. Picture what you WANT to happen, not what you THINK will happen.” –Nina Amelung

Don’t worry about one ride; don’t look at it day to day. Look at your progress on more of a monthly basis. That way, one bad ride will be overshadowed by multiple good rides.” –Danielle Vance

Things take time.” –Lea Ditte Marsk Lauridsen

Where you look is where you’ll end up. Stop looking down!” –Barb McCaslin Riffey

As gentle as possible, as firm as necessary.” –Karen Boates

NEVER buy a problem.” –Margreta Wenzloff Flach

Look where you want to go.” –Linda Light

Get the arch out of your back and sit on your butt.” –Bird McIver

The horse you own is always the best horse in the world. Stay positive. Do not listen to rail birds.” –Lynn Howland

It’s not the horse’s fault, you need to ride better.” –Vernita Frens Mullen

Let the active/nervous horse move its feet, you’ll only make matters worse if you try to stop it.” –Wendy Fowler

Make corrections going forward.” –Deb Howatt

Don’t sneak up behind them.” –David Simpson

Heels down, eyes up, & relax in the seat, have a great trainer for lessons & advice.” –Ann Lee Francis Boone

Always remember what a blessing it is to be around horses at all.” –Merwie Garzon

Now, it’s your turn, Eventing Nation. What’s the best piece of advice about horses that you’ve ever received? Share in the comments!

Best of HN: 3 Ways to Deal With ’52 Free Thoroughbreds’

Remember that viral post about the 52 free Thoroughbreds in need of homes immediately or they’re all going to slaughter due to lack of interest from an inheriting family member?

Guess what’s just come back around, harder to kill than a cockroach.

The post itself, and its many slightly different iterations, reads as follows:

FREE HORSES!!! 52 thoroughbred horses need homes. Will go to Sugarcreek this Sat. for slaughter. Gentleman died and his son wants nothing to do with them. Most broodmares are broke and some are in foal weanling, yearlings, 2yrs. and 3yrs. old most are gelded. FREE and papered. Friend of the deceased is trying to find homes. 440-463-4288 Barnesville, OH.
Please copy and paste this on your status.
I would hate to see all these house put down. PLEASE someone help they FREE and papered!!!!!

I hope someone can help!

Somehow, due to the magic of the Facebook algorithm, this thing rears its head almost annually — it would be a fascinating study in the mysteries of social media to figure out just exactly how this post manages to resurface, catch a few unsuspecting, well-intended individuals and take off yet again to bedevil horse people everywhere.

In case you’re not familiar with the full, original story, this WAS a real, desperate need in late January of 2011 — Daniel Steans, DVM passed away on January 27, 2011 and his good friend Lynn Boggs took to Facebook to try to find homes for his 52 Thoroughbreds. Thanks to the power of social media, all 52 horses found homes in just four days — read the story on Eventing Nation.

Unfortunately for all of us seven years later, the presumable posts of triumph and gratefulness didn’t go viral. Now, the original plea for homes comes back to haunt us, somehow becoming the punchline to a thousand equestrian jokes and driving us to distraction. It catches everyone from your sweet Aunt Judith who knows you’re into horses and thinks maybe you could help to actual horse people who simply never heard about it the first half-a-dozen times — I myself was sent this from a horse owner who was convinced it was a different set of 52 Thoroughbreds in need of homes.

It’s the Nigerian Prince email for horse people, only without the actual scam.

Fortunately, there are several productive ways we can contend with the 52 free Thoroughbreds:

1. Share the good news about the original 52 free Thoroughbreds and thank the sender for their concern.

Whether it’s sweet, clueless Aunt Judith or your fellow boarder who sends you the message/tags you in a post/writes this on your Timeline non-ironically and in all seriousness, they’re acting based on genuine concern and belief that you might be equipped to help these horses in a time of crisis. Isn’t that a good thing?

The last thing we should do in these situations is curtly tell the concerned friend that this is fake and that you’re sick to death of seeing it (even if you are). Instead, take this as an opportunity to educate and inform your friend about the true story, let them know you appreciate their concern and belief that you can help, and maybe gently, casually remind them how important it is these days to vet your sources for basically anything you read on the Internet.

After all, for some of your Facebook friends, this is one of the only interactions with the horse world they might have, and it’s important not to give them the wrong impression.

2. Turn it into a benefit for real Thoroughbreds — or any horse — in need of a home ASAP.

I’ve seen this now in a couple of different places online and I think it’s a great idea — for every 52 free Thoroughbreds post out there, there are plenty of very real horses in immediate crisis who are in need of a soft landing. Social media users are encouraging one another to make a small donation to a favorite equine charity every time they see the 52 free Thoroughbreds post — some are aiding other Thoroughbreds via off-track aftercare, others are reaching out to rescues plucking horses from slaughter sales. The charity isn’t as important as the intention — use this slight annoyance as an opportunity to do some good and save more horses destined for an untimely end!

3. When all else fails, there’s always this.

Go riding!

Better, Faster, Stronger: Genetically Engineering the Horse

A video is rapidly circulating on social media, boiling down a complex scientific achievement into just a few seconds for public consumption:

The first genetically engineered super horse could be born by 2019

They run faster, jump higher, and might be coming to the Olympics. Learn more: http://wef.ch/2m0XMCe

Posted by World Economic Forum on Sunday, January 7, 2018

The science

Kheiron Biotech, based in Argentina, first made international equestrian headlines as a cloning headquarters, successfully cloning some of living polo legend Adolfo Cambioso’s greatest mounts. In fact, Cambioso rode a string of six clones of one of his favorite mares to help propel his team to a win in the Argentinian Open.

Clones are genetic copies of the original, which can provide some advantages to breeders and owners but do not genetically further a breed. Some clones are used as breeding stock, especially if the original horse is unable to breed (for example, if the original horse is a gelding). Others are trained for competition, with one theory being that a clone could feasibly be better than the original with a carefully-regimented training schedule to set the horse up with all available advantages. Clones are not recognized by some breed associations or registries, but the FEI does allow them to compete.

Kheiron Biotech has now pushed the envelope even further, revealing late in 2017 that the lab was able to not only clone but to genetically enhance the genomes of a clone: using a process referred to as Crispr (Clustered Regularly Inter-Spaced Palindromic Repeats) the research team can boost a gene sequence critical to muscle development, endurance and speed. The team was able to produce healthy embryos with this process, and there are plans to implant embryos into surrogate mares within the next two years.

The reaction

The research team believes that this process helps to speed up breeding — selected traits could be enhanced in the lab rather than over generations and generations of breeding with uncertain results. There are also plans to use the Crispr mechanism to edit other genes, with the possibility of eliminating genetic defects.

It’s a bit disingenuous to say “these horses will be allowed to compete in the Olympics.” The FEI has stated that as of right now there are no bans in place to bar genetically engineered horses from competition — simply because it hasn’t happened yet. The organization, however, does plan to continue to monitor these developments.

While the concept of being able to remove genetic defects and hereditary disease, speeding up efforts by breeders, certainly sounds appealing, the concept of “playing God” has been an ethical debate for years ever since Dolly the sheep, the first live cloned animal, popped onto the scene. As science continues to push the boundaries of what we believe is possible, the debate is sure to rage on.

Weigh in, Eventing Nation — what are your thoughts on genetic engineering in horses? Let us know in the comments — and go riding.

[Genetically engineered ‘super-horses’ to be born in 2019 and could soon compete in Olympics]

Best of HN: Too Cold To Ride? Using Common Sense & Science

Photo by Kristen Kovatch.

A recent Facebook posting from Yates Equine Veterinary Services has been going viral around equestrian social media concerning what temperatures could be considered too cold to work a horse. The post has sparked plenty of lively discussion, with plenty of equestrians on both sides of the issue cherry-picking a few key facts to back up their own theories. We’ll establish the facts, combined with common sense, to help readers decide for themselves in the middle of the United States’ intense cold snap (not to mention this coming “bomb cyclone,” whatever on earth that might be…).

The post that launched a thousand comments:

I am frequently asked, and I wondered myself, about working horses in extremely frigid weather like what we are…

Posted by Yates Equine Veterinary Services on Friday, December 29, 2017

Thanks, Dr. Yates, for digging into the research!

The tl;dr version in bullet facts:

  • The horse’s respiratory tract is designed to warm and humidify air by the time air reaches his lungs. Intense exercise (anything more than a walk) speeds up and deepens breaths so that air is not as warm or humid when it reaches the lungs
  • Scientists discovered in three studies that respiratory tracts in horses can become damaged by breathing cold air (23 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Damage to lower respiratory tracts was found 48 hours after exercise, including elevated white blood cell counts and inflammatory proteins as well as narrowing of the tracts
  • While full text was not available for two of the three studies, the third study was performed on nine horses on a treadmill in a climate-controlled facility. No further information is given on the horses
  • Dr. Yates observes that there are no studies done in natural environments (outside) and no studies done in relation to horses’ acclimatization — are horses who live outside in cold environments better acclimated to working in cold temperatures?

Dr. Yates’ conclusion is that she will likely avoid exercise (trotting, cantering and jumping) when temperatures are under 20 degrees F.

Interpreting the results

Some riders are taking these studies as evidence that all riding should cease when temperatures are below 25-20 degrees F, while others are reading this post as justification to just bundle up and keep on training. As with lots of discussions in the horse world, the best path may lie somewhere in the middle — and with the unknown factor of how acclimatization might affect a horse’s ability to work in the cold, common sense should continue to dictate the ride.

Here are a few considerations when deciding to ride in the cold:

How is your footing? Frozen hard-packed bare ground at 25 degrees is a far different riding surface from a snow-covered pasture at 25 degrees. No matter how warm it is, icy conditions should be a no-go for any rider.

Where does your horse live? Again, while acclimatization did not come into play with the above referenced studies, I believe you can make a case that a horse coming from a heated barn to a cold outdoor arena would likely have a harder time both breathing cold air and physically/mentally settling in to work, while a horse living out 24/7 working in the same environment should feasibly be more likely to be ready to go.

What’s your horse’s level of fitness? Going hand-in-hand with considerations of acclimatization, cold weather is not a good time to decide to bring a horse back into work if he’s going to be breathing that cold air into his out-of-shape body as you make him trot and canter. It may take some creative management to exercise a fit horse in extreme cold; hand walking and ground work are good strategies that will protect his respiratory system while keeping him mentally and physically engaged, especially if he’s not the sort of horse who can go out for a snowy trail ride around the property.

Take your time in warm-up. Regardless of your horse’s acclimatization, both his muscles and his respiratory tract need plenty of time to warm up in this weather. The golden rule from multiple sources seems to be a 10-15 minute walking warm-up if you’re planning a regular work in colder weather. If it’s under 20-23 degrees, it’s advisable to walk only to avoid damaging your horse’s respiratory tract.

Cooling down is equally vital. Even if your horse is clipped to allow him to work without sweating up a long, shaggy coat, an appropriate cool-down is essential. For unclipped horses who have worked up a sweat, cool-down is critical to allow the horse’s coat to dry before it freezes, giving the horse a chill.

Discretion is the better part of valor. Seriously, very few of us are in true life-or-death scenarios where we MUST work a horse hard in extreme cold. (And those of us who are — I’m thinking of ranchers with livestock to tend — may have horses who are acclimated to working in the cold and therefore may not be as prone to respiratory damage — again, we’ll need another study to look into this). While it’s frustrating in the immediate moment to be “grounded” due to weather, in the long run our horses and we ourselves may ultimately be happier and healthier if we skip a training ride and instead slow things down for this period of intense cold.

Take a look at your own conditions, your horse and your weather forecast to make decisions in your riding life. And if you can — go riding!

Further reading

SmartPak: Ask the Vet: Too Cold to Ride?

Certified Horsemanship Association: Exercising Your Horse During Winter

Study: “Cold air-induced late-phase bronchoconstriction in horses” (subscription needed for full article)

Study: “Influx of neutrophils and persistence of cytokine expression in airways of horses after performing exercise while breathing cold air” (subscription needed for full article)

Best of 2017 Video Countdown #2: This Extensive Sales Video May Blow Your Mind

Each day between now and the New Year we’re counting down the most popular videos shared on EN in 2017. The #2 spot goes to “This Extensive Sales Video May Blow Your Mind,” which garnered 10,359 views when it was posted on January 19, 2017.

This sales video for a Missouri Fox Trotter named Walter is SO straightforward and dry that it’s hard to tell if trainer and seller Zackery Stevens is just that much of a straight shooter or a total genius or both. We can’t decide if we should laugh, marvel, take this man seriously or buy him a beer. Or maybe all of those things.

Let’s just establish before you watch this 20-minute sales video (the man is nothing if not thorough) that Walter appears to be perhaps the greatest horse that has walked this planet. We promise, this is worth the 20 minutes just to listen to this guy talk about his horse in the driest voice you’ve ever heard from someone trying to sell something.

As a side note, we took a peek at the TheHorseBay.com online auction page for Walter, whose sale ended about a week ago. If the page is reporting accurate information, Walter sold via online auction for $50,000. Well done, Walter. And well done, Mr. Stevens.

Best of 2017 Video Countdown #5: One Way To Tackle a Bank

Each day between now and the New Year we’re counting down the most popular videos shared on EN in 2017. The #5 spot goes to “One Way To Tackle a Bank,” which garnered 4,871 views when it was posted on June 2, 2017.

One of the many things we love about Laine Ashker as an eventer in the social media age is her willingness to share the less-than-pretty moments with good grace and good humor — because she understands, like we do, that we’ve all been there. Horse life is messy, unpredictable and definitely has its fair share of SMH/LOL/OMG moments, whether you’re an amateur or a professional.

That’s why we’ve fallen head over heels for Laine Ashker’s new ride Debakey, a four year old Holsteiner gelding owned by Lena Perger. His latest adventure — his unique take on a bank — has the internet in stitches:

(Don’t worry, Ashker confirmed that Debakey was totally fine.) He was also pretty fun to watch when he saw his first skinny and chevron…

If you’re scratching your head right now, fear not — here’s Debakey on something he has a bit more experience with, demonstrating the springs in his feet.

Los Angeles Area Barns Burn Amidst Deadly California Wildfires

Screenshot via video

Fueled by dry conditions and Santa Ana winds, rapidly-moving wildfires are burning hundreds of thousands of acres in Southern California, threatening many homes and barns in the greater Los Angeles area.

A lack of seasonal precipitation has created bone-dry conditions in Southern California, providing plenty of fuel for rapidly-moving and unpredictably-spreading wildfires in the greater Los Angeles area. Fanned by the gusty Santa Ana winds of late autumn, four large fires and several smaller fires have burned an estimated 116,000 acres as of Thursday morning.

Thousands of firefighters are battling the Thomas Fire outside of Ventura as well as the Rye, Creek and Skirball fires closer to Los Angeles, with an estimated 300 homes and business already lost.

The Creek fire burned the well-known Middle Ranch of Lakeview Terrace, home to several well-known barns including Archie Cox’ Brookway Stables and Dick Carvin and Francie Steinwedell-Carvin’s Meadow Grove Farms. Fortunately, all horses on the property were evacuated to safety on Tuesday in advance of approaching flames.

Video from Jorge Hidalgo of Brookway Stables shows a terrifying scene, in which Hidalgo and others still on the property are sent to the riding ring as the safest place as flames take the barns around them. Conditions on the roadways made leaving impossible. Fortunately, all are now safe.

Fire is on

Posted by Jorge Hidalgo on Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Getting very very bad

Posted by Jorge Hidalgo on Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Video from Francie Steinwedell shows the barns — now mercifully long empty of horses — going up in flames:

So sad to see our barn go up in flames

Posted by Francie Steinwedell on Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Equine evacuation centers have been set up at Hansen Dam Equestrian Center, Los Angeles Equestrian Center, the Fairplex grounds and Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. Many smaller farms and ranches are also opening their doors to horse owners in need.

Some farms and ranches have not been as lucky as Middle Ranch — due to the fast-moving nature of these wildfires, some larger facilities had only enough time to get people to safety. Thirty horses reportedly died in the Creek fire on Wednesday when the owners were forced to flee for their lives early in the morning with no time to evacuate stock to safety.

As fires are still raging, with only 15% estimated to be contained, few wide-scale relief efforts have been set up at this time. So far, Damoor’s Feed and Tack of Glendale, California has pledged support to affected horse owners:

While no announcement of aid has been made formally by US Equestrian, interested individuals can always donate to the Disaster Relief Fund to help fellow equestrians in need. We will continue to monitor this story as fires burn; the weather forecast for Friday and Saturday shows that winds may diminish which may allow firefighters to gain some control over the flames.

For networking and information about evacuations, visit the Southern California Equine Emergency Evacuation Facebook group. More information about disaster preparedness and evacuation plans can be found here.

Update 12/7/2017 7:14 PM EST:

Two fires at 0% containment –called the Lilac and Liberty fires — are spreading rapidly north of San Diego, threatening numerous farms and equestrian centers. Evacuation points for horses have been opened up at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Del Mar Equestrian Center, among other locations.

The San Luis Rey Downs race training facility was a scene of chaos as an estimated 50 horses were turned loose by track staff when their barn caught fire. Some horses were able to evacuate to Del Mar Fairgrounds before road closures forced drastic measures, emphasizing the speed at which the Lilac fire has progressed in just one afternoon, growing rapidly from a thousand to two thousand acres. Individual trainers have confirmed equine deaths, but with fire still active in the area both rescue trailers and individual autos are not being granted access so a total head count of loss is not yet known.

We will continue to follow these stories as they develop.

Best of HN: Songs About Horses: ‘Dressage Girls’

Tweaking lyrics is a time-honored tradition at Horse Nation — every December we love to re-release our re-imagined Christmas carols so we can all sing about our equestrian problems in the holiday season, for example.

This song, performed by Tom White O’Connor, however, might just take the cake. Accompanied by a video by Joseph Newcomb, Tom croons away about the perils of falling in love with an equestrian. And not just any equestrian — a dressage girl.

Without further ado:

The lyrics, if you’d like to sing along again:

Dressage girls are easy to love, they’re just hard to afford
They ride big fancy horses that cost more than most Porsches, I’m sure
Saddles and bridles and vet bills and clinics
You say “darlin’ we just can’t go on”
Then she rolls those brown eyes and your heart nearly dies
It’s time for a new credit card.

Daddies, don’t your let your daughters turn into dressage girls
Don’t let ’em ride warmbloods that cost way too much
Let ’em play softball and soccer and such
Daddies, don’t your let your daughters turn into dressage girls
You’ll lose ’em for sure, for dressage there’s no cure
You’ll be left mucking their stall.

(So good. Oh, but wait, the second verse gets better. Way better.)

Dressage girls ride horses in shows like you’ve never seen
They ride sideways and backwards and all alphabetically
There’re no cattle or ropin’, barrels or whoopin’
The crowd’s quiet like a Sunday church hall
You’ll be proud just to see her, even if you can’t figure what the hell she’s a doin’ out there.

(BRB DYING.)

Daddies, don’t your let your daughters turn into dressage girls
Don’t let ’em ride warmbloods that cost way too much
Let ’em play softball and soccer and such
Daddies, don’t your let your daughters turn into dressage girls
You’ll lose ’em for sure, for dressage there’s no cure
You’ll be left mucking their stall.

Truer words have never been sung. (“They ride sideways and backwards and all alphabetically” — GENIUS.) We’re officially adding this one to our Horse Nation playlist.

Go riding!

Electronic Logging Devices & CMVs: What New Regulations Mean For Horse Owners

Photo via Trailers of the East Coast/Flickr/CC.

The “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century,” or MAP-21 bill, was enacted in 2012 by Congress with ongoing implementation for the next few years. Of most concern for livestock haulers and horse owners is the phasing in of a requirement for commercial motor vehicles to install and use an electronic logging device, or ELD.

The purpose of an ELD is to log the hours of driving time performed by a driver: Legally, a driver can only be on the road for 11 hours in a 14-hour stretch before they are required to take a mandatory 10-hour rest period. The ELD records drive time and alerts the driver when he or she is over their hours; any infractions are recorded by the ELD and can be viewed during inspection. Drivers found to be in violation during inspection or traffic stop can be fined.

Currently, we’re in the “awareness and transition phase” as described by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) — commercial drivers are not currently required to have an ELD but are encouraged to start the transition now from paper log books, logging software and automatic on-board recording devices. The next stage, phasing in the ELD, begins on December 18, 2017.

While we typically picture tractor-trailers when we mentally envision a commercial driver or commercial motor vehicle (CMV), the reality is that CMVs can come in many shapes and sizes, and these rules and requirements apply to all of them.

What is considered a commercial motor vehicle?

The full legal description of commercial motor vehicles can be found here. The commercial motor vehicle definition as would apply to horse owners can include a truck and trailer with a total gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,000 pounds, as well as a truck and trailer that have been written off as business expenses or are used for business — if you’re a professional trainer and your rig is part of your business, it’s considered a commercial vehicle. Even if your vehicle does not actually require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) but is part of your business, it can be considered a commercial vehicle. If you haul horses for compensation, your truck and trailer are considered commercial vehicles.

If you’re a sponsored rider, you are considered a professional and your truck and trailer are also considered commercial.

Essentially, if your truck and trailer is used for profit or for business purposes, it’s considered a CMV and all of the CMV rules apply, as they always have. You need a Department of Transportation (DOT) number, and some states may require a state number as well.

Exemptions

A full list of exemptions can be found here. The most key exemption for horse owners reads: “Unless otherwise specifically provided, the rules in [Subchapter B, including the definition of a CMV] do not apply to the occasional transportation of personal property by individuals not for compensation and not in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise.”

In explanation, amateur owners/non-pros are exempt from the commercial vehicle status if they’re hauling for recreational purposes: you can still load up your horses and go trail riding, and you can still haul your horse to go show for fun as long as you are not deducting your expenses for tax purposes for a business and counting any prize monies as ordinary income (not business income). Essentially, for the recreational horse owner, there’s no need to worry about installing an ELD as hauling is not considered commercial.

Agricultural exemptions also apply to CMVs: the full list of agricultural exemptions can be found here. For transporting horses under the agricultural exemption, you may travel within a 150-mile radius from the source of your commodity without requiring an ELD — in this case, let’s assume your load of horses from your home barn. You may also travel outside of that 150-mile radius no more than eight days every 30 days with the use of a paper log (no need to use an ELD).

Clear as mud, right?

The upcoming ELD requirement starting on December 18, 2017 will definitely impact professional horsemen and horsewomen who spend a lot of time and miles on the road; individuals who are already following rules and regulations for CMVs will likely not have to modify their individual practices. The changes coming in December are increasing the potential for these rules to be enforced more strongly.

More information can be found at the FMCSA website.

On Giving Tuesday, Remember Equine-Based Charities

A therapeutic riding lesson. Photo: Flickr/Andrew Hutchinson/CC.

Happy Giving Tuesday: this growing annual movement reminds us to keep some room in our plans this holiday season for charitable giving as well as gift-giving to family and friends. If you’re looking for ideas or inspiration for an equine-based charity to support this year, we’ve highlighted a few of our favorites.

The Brooke

In developing regions of the world, equines are still a critical aspect of the workforce — an estimated 100 million working horses and donkeys support 600 million people in such tasks as carrying water, hauling fuel and feed or pulling loads. The Brooke seeks to improve the lives of these working animals through community-level change, including education, health care and networking with local veterinarians. The Brooke also works with governments in these countries to develop legislation to better protect working animals. Learn more about The Brooke.

US Equestrian’s Disaster Relief Fund

2017, frankly, was a terrible year in terms of natural disasters: from wildfires all across the American west to hurricanes in the Southeast and Puerto Rico, the United States was hit hard — and of course, where there are people there are horses. US Equestrian’s Disaster Relief Fund was a resource for horse owners in need in these times of crisis, providing funding for emergency veterinary care as well as feed. We’ll never know what tomorrow might bring, but the Disaster Relief Fund could very well be our parachute. Learn more about the Disaster Relief Fund.

Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation

The TRF is the largest and oldest organization of its kind in the world, devoted to protecting the Thoroughbred racehorse when his racing days are over to prevent him from possible neglect, abuse or slaughter. To this mission, TRF has sheltered thousands of animals, with many going on to second careers while some remain at sanctuary. TRF has also partnered with State of New York Department of Correctional Services to create a vocational training program for inmates, focusing on equine care and management. Learn more about Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

PATH International

The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH International) is the credentialing organization for therapeutic riding centers and also certifies instructors and specialists. PATH International provides training and educational resources for therapeutic riding schools all over the world, insuring that students, teachers and horses are safe, healthy and happy and that the maximum benefit can be reached by all. Through PATH International, prospective students can find an accredited organization that will best match their needs to enrich their experience. Learn more about PATH International.

Your local rescue or therapeutic riding center

Keeping your donation in your own community can be one of the best ways to help affect change at the local level — search for reputable horse rescues or therapeutic riding centers in your area that could benefit! Keep in mind that donations don’t have to be in the form of cash: many rescues or programs are desperately in need of volunteer help, either for day-to-day operations or for larger projects. Your individual talents will be appreciated, whether you’re able to groom rescue horses, repair fence, repaint the barn, muck stalls, be a sidewalker champion, design marketing materials, write articles or build a mounting ramp.

Need more ideas? Check out our past weekly Standing Ovation by Ovation Riding columns, which spotlight an individual or organization doing good work in the horse world.

Go riding.

SmartPak Cyber Monday: Sales on Sales on Sales!

Not actually my horse, but he’ll be snug as a bug in this new rug thanks to SmartPak’s sales! Photo via SmartPakEquine.com.

Whether you’re getting a jumpstart on your holiday shopping list or investing in a few new pieces for yourself or your horse, Cyber Monday is a great time to visit SmartPakEquine.com!

Cyber Monday sale: Using code Holiday17, enjoy 15% off your eligible purchase (plus an additional 5% off with your association discount for certain memberships) — PLUS, orders over $100 are eligible for a free $15 SmartPak gift certificate, which can make a great gift or be applied to one of your own future orders!

25 Deals of Christmas: SmartPak’s annual ongoing holiday sale is in full swing, with a special deal available daily! Today’s deal? 30% off SmartPak and Rockin’ SP turnouts! There’s a different deal every day, so keep checking SmartPakEquine.com to see the ways you can save big every day.

Christmas is already coming early for my new horse Jobber, who is in need of a new turnout sheet after just two weeks of romping around in an old sheet I already owned, happily punching holes right and left. Armed with sales on sales on sales, I snagged him a brand-new SmartPak Ultimate High Neck Turnout Sheet, which comes with SmartPak’s 10-year Indestructible Guarantee — if he punches holes in THIS sheet, I can send it back to SmartPak, no questions asked, and get a replacement or refund!

Normally a $199 purchase, the 30% Deal of Christmas combined with the Cyber Monday sale gave me a bottom line of $119 for this sheet, PLUS a SmartPak Gift Card for $15, PLUS free shipping! That’s definitely a heck of a way to kick off my holiday shopping… plus ensure that Jobber will be comfy and dry in the rain and snow this winter.

Go SmartPak!

3 Reasons You Should Listen to Horse Radio Network’s Radiothon on Monday

Our friends at the Horse Radio Network are gearing up for another Radiothon – a 12-hour live podcast marathon on Monday, November 27 kicking off at 9 AM and wrapping up at 9 PM. We’ve compiled a few reasons you’ll want to tune in throughout the day:

1. $4,000 — that’s FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS — of prizes to be given out during the day.

Thanks to sponsors, the Horse Radio Network is giving away $4,000 in prizes throughout the day, including (just to name a few) Cavallo hoof boots, a Kentucky Performance Products package, Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Girth, six months’ supply of Stud Muffins, HorseLoverZ.com gift certificates, books, and the grand prizes of a $500 Weatherbeeta package and winner’s choice of Wintec saddle.

How do you enter to win these prizes? Call in live during the day to share your message of holiday cheer, and answer this year’s theme question: what was your best horsey Christmas gift, past present or future. Call in at 435-272-1997.

2. Awesome guests will be featured throughout the day.

If you’re a fan of Stacy and Jesse Westfall, Jared Rogerson, Felix Francis, Darley Newman, Christine Traurig, Janelle Roads, Frank M. Calo, Yvonne Barteau, Wendie Malick, Nic Roldan, Boyd Martin, Shellie Hensley, Susanne Ott, Carter Bass, Lisa Preston, Carly Kade or Leslie Wylie’s husband Tommy, you’ll want to make sure you’re listening to Radiothon. Check out the full schedule to see when your favorite guests are featured!

3. It’s a Horse Nation/Nation Media takeover in the final hour.

Leslie Wylie and Kristen Kovatch are taking over the airwaves at 8 PM to host the Horse Nation Hour and close out Radiothon with a bang. Past Nation Media Radiothon takeover highlights have included reminiscent tales of pony-coveting childhood years, Dom Schramm’s Christmas morning pajamas gaffe and an “I am Spartacus!” international listener drink-off. What’s in store this year? You’ll just have to listen live and find out…

Tune in to Radiothon on Monday in your browser at www.holidayradiothon.com – no download required.

Best of HN: Coming Soon, Equestrians Against Normalcy

All photos courtesy of Equestrians Against Normalcy.

First there was Apples to Apples.

The premise of the game is simple: a group card game, everyone holds a hand of “thing” cards — objects, concepts, proper nouns, etc. The active player in each round draws a “description” card — say, “delicate” or “furry” — and players play the “thing” card in their hand that they feel best (or most hilariously) matches the description. The active player chooses their favorite, and the player who played the winning selection gets a point. This was THE game for many years at gathering and parties.

Then there was Cards Against Humanity: the party game for horrible people.

Same concept, but with a much darker, more cynical, twisted and sometimes downright cringe-y feel. I was coaching a college riding team when CAH first became popular, so needless to say the now-iconic black and white decks made an appearance at basically every away horse show or long-distance competition. Cards Against Humanity launched a hundred spoofs, including a couple of much-loved iterations right here on Horse Nation: check out our first collection and our second collection.

Now, horse-loving ladies and gentlemen, the time has come: introducing Equestrians Against Normalcy, a card game created by an equestrian for equestrians. Viral posts have been circulating early this week featuring Equestrians Against Normalcy, which is in the final stages of development with hopes to be available on the market just in time for the holiday season.

We caught up with game creator Victoria Morrow, a full-time professional horsewoman, to learn more about the game. She’s exactly the kind of sharp, witty individual that you’d expect to find at the helm of a game celebrating the weirder things about horse life — she walks the walk of the equestrian world, finding time to sit down and answer our questions between teaching lessons and thawing frozen water buckets. In short, she’s our kind of girl.

HN: Naturally, we have to ask: how did you come up with the idea for Equestrians Against Normalcy?

VM: Playing card games and board games with regular friends and horse friends has always been a pastime for me — especially when we have been gone to longer horse shows. One of the easiest games to travel with have been card games where you play one card to go with another; over the years quite a few have come and gone. Two of the more popular ones right now are Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity. It was the mechanics of those games that made me think it would be a blast if there was one that was geared towards horse people, and adult horse people especially.

There are some horse-themed games out there, but they are all geared towards kids. This all started to come about last winter while I was laid up from the latest in surgeries from a riding accident years ago. I had a lot of spare time on my hands and can’t stand to sit idle. So I decided that I wanted to make something that would be fun for adult riders to be able to play with each other. At the same time there is nothing in it that is offensive, so it is something that the teen riders could also play.

HN: Who are the masterminds behind the game? Who makes up your team?

VM: Team? That would be great, but it’s just me. I run a stable and offer boarding, training, and lessons.

Horses have been part of my life as long as I can remember. My father grew up on the race track riding horses for his father who was a flat race trainer and was a steeplechase jockey. He started me riding and showing when I was three and later got me into eventing which lead to me being able to compete in the US and Canada and eventually start my own business. I have been very fortunate to have him there for me.

My husband Steve has been kind enough to get the website up and running, and the email working. Luckily he is good with computers as the only thing I use them for is shopping for horses and tack!

HN: There’s certainly a parallel between this game and Cards Against Humanity — did you need to do any special licensing to imitate the original?

VM: I love playing CAH with my friends. And while Equestrians Against Normalcy and CAH have the same game play mechanics of using one card to finish another as do many others, that is pretty much it. EAN was designed specifically for the adult equestrian. All of the cards are equestrian themed and can be safely played in public so that you can play at the shows and stables — trainers can play with their clients.I love CAH but definitely would not play it with my clients or at shows.

Game mechanics are not something that you need special licensing to use — in fact it is one of the things that anyone can use, which is why there are so many games out there using the same ones. EAN definitely is its own stand alone game and we wouldn’t want anyone to confuse it with any other games. We tried to make sure our packaging was not the same as others down to the font.

HN: What is the process like for developing and producing a game?

VM: A lot of work! I couldn’t even tell you the hours that went into just what went on each card. Coming up with unique things for over 500 cards was more work than you would think!

I did have to beg the assistance of a friend of my husband’s for the help type setting the cards. It turns out no matter how much you yell at the computer and computer program it doesn’t help. I also now have a new appreciation of graphic designers and their ability to use Illustrator. It took awhile but I did manage to design the boxes and get the prototypes made.

But before we even had the prototype cards made up we made a basic one at home to play with different horse groups to see if it was as much fun as we hoped it would be, and it was. After the prototypes were printed, that was when we started to send them out to other people to play. Since this is a side business that we are doing, it is taking longer to get to production for sale than it would have if I wasn’t trying to do it between working horses, teaching and running a stable.

HN: There aren’t a lot of games that exist specifically for “horse people” — there are games for horse-loving kids, but I can’t think of any equestrian-specific games off the top of my head. What are your thoughts on this niche market?

VM: I think people definitely have a desire to have a game geared towards the adult rider. Especially after seeing the reaction to our Facebook page! There are so many things out there geared towards riders and their horses, but not things for them to have fun together with. We spend so much money on making sure our horses are happy and have fun in their stalls and paddocks. It is about time we got something too.

HN: What’s next? Where will people be able to purchase a copy?

VM: The biggest thing is getting EAN ready for sale to the public. We are trying really hard to have EAN available for purchase online at the very start of December so that people can have it for the holidays. As soon as it is available we will be posting links to the online purchasing area on our Facebook page Equestrians Against Normalcy and on our website http://equestriansagainstnormalcy.com.

Since it is such a small company — just me with the assistance of my husband — we’re partnering with a company that specializes in card games. Since the decks will be printed on demand, there’s no fear they’ll run out. And their turnaround time for producing and shipping has been fantastic. Plus they ship worldwide so anyone can order!

If the game does well we would love to be able to provide tack stores with them as they have inquired about the game, and to develop different decks for different riding disciplines and breeds. We definitely will keep everyone posted via the Facebook page and website about the game’s availability!

Update 11/14: Equestrians Against Normalcy is now available for purchase! Visit https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/equestrians-against-normalcy to order a copy.

We’ll have a sneak peek and game review of Equestrians Against Normalcy coming soon! Keep it locked on Horse Nation and the EAN Facebook page/website for updates about the game. Go riding!

Best of HN: This OTTB’s Second Career in Horseback Hawking is #Goals

Nothing to see here, just a man and his horse and his golden eagle out for a hack. Screen shot.

Mounted falconry or hawking is quite possibly one of the most [email protected]$$ disciplines in existence. In some parts of the world, such as Mongolia, it’s not so much a fun leisure sport as a legitimate way to acquire food for the family — but in other places, including Europe, hawking has traditionally been a pastime of the wealthy.

All over the world, individuals are keeping this sport alive through hawking or falconry clubs, and in a few places the traditions live on through tourism: Dartmoor Hawking in Dartmoor National Park is perhaps the best-known of such destinations. Established on the grounds of the 40-acre Bovey Castle estate and with access to 15,000 additional acres of open ground in the national park, Dartmoor Hawking teaches guests about the art of falconry and offers the opportunity to take these skills to the saddle.

(There’s also an intriguing link marked Weddings/Engagements — just picturing a golden eagle delivering an engagement ring makes me grin.)

My experience with large birds while in the saddle is mostly limited to wild turkeys exploding out of cover right under the nose of my mounts, some of whom have not taken too kindly to that kind of fluttering be-feathered surprise. Proving, however, that horses can learn to tolerate pretty much anything, including a bird with an eight-foot wingspan flapping away right over their heads, the horses at Dartmoor Hawking look pretty chill with this. If anything, they even seem to strut a little bit, as though they know that they’re the ballers of the horse world.

The latest horse to join Dartmoor Hawking’s ranks? An off-track Thoroughbred, reminding us once again that there’s really no limitations to what this breed can do.

Shubaat is an 11-year-old gelding by Monsun with wins to his name on both the flat and over timber. He’s a graduate of the Godolphin rehoming and retraining program: as one of the largest breeding/racing operations in the world, Godolphin holds itself responsible to the horses in its string and supports its horses through retraining and rehoming with regional partners in Europe, Japan, Australia and the United States.

While “horseback hawking” may not be a common career for any horse, let alone an OTTB, Shubaat is actually the second horse from Godolphin to find his home at Dartmoor Hawking — a gelding named Caymans also came through the Godolphin rehoming program and has been hawking for quite some time!

Shubaat, best of luck in your totally awesome second career. Go OTTBs, and go riding!

Thursday Video: SmartPak ‘Ask the Vet’ November Edition

As long as there will be horses, there will be horse people. And as long as there will be horse people, there will be horse health questions! For all those questions where you can’t ask your own vet, your barn buddies or you’re simply stumped or seeking a different opinion, SmartPak is here. One a month, SmartPaker Sarah and Dr. Lydia Gray answer fan-submitted questions so we can all keep learning about horse health.

Questions answered in this episode:

1. What is the best age to geld a stallion? Is it better to do it before starting them under saddle?

2. I have a young horse that had a locked stifle. It happened twice so far, once when she was 2 years old and the second time was about a year after that. Why does it happen? Is there a treatment for it? And is it a long term problem?

3. Is there any benefit to joint supplements given in feed? I have been told they are helpful but also that horses do not metabolize them when given this way and injections are better. Is this true?

4. My horse recently got her SI injected, and I was just wondering if there was anything I could do to help her be more comfortable, especially after hard work/jumping? Could I poultice/liniment the area or is there something else I could do? Thanks!

5. Clicker training for horses has been growing in popularity. What are the pros and cons of it? Is it a more humane way to train horses?

Never stop learning! And if you have a burning horse health question for Sarah and Dr. Gray to answer in a future episode, you can submit in the following ways: comment on this video (via YouTube, not here at Horse Nation) and tag your question #AskTheVet. You can also post your questions on SmartPak’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or by visiting the SmartPak blog — don’t forget the hashtag! Questions can be submitted directly via [email protected] or at the Ask the Vet Questions submission site.

Bonus: if your question is selected, you win a SmartPak gift card!

Go Riding.

Best of HN: 7 Reasons My Barn is Basically an HGTV Dream Home

So rustic! So homey! All photos by Kristen Kovatch.

Here’s the funny thing: I don’t even watch a lot of HGTV. Truth be told, we don’t have cable at home — we’re a modern couple, and we went the way of the Roku a long time ago. There are, however, a few times a year that I find myself perhaps in a hotel for the night, visiting family at home or otherwise somehow able to access a television to while away a few hours… and somehow, every time, HGTV seems to be on.

Whether you’re watching House Hunters or Fixer Upper or one of the myriad other “dream home” series that give you the perfect arc of action in an hour or less, there are a few things that I’ve noticed make for the perfect home — whether they’re features already part of the place, or a DIY project you choose to add yourself. And I’ve also noticed that my barn possesses all of them already. Step aside, HGTV. We got this.

1. An open floor plan

This space just really flows, you know what I mean? Visual cues help separate the cross-tie area from tool storage, but at a moment’s notice we could open up the goat pens and use that space for additional wash stalls. That’s what’s so fun and flexible about this space — we’re really making the most of one room.

2. Dramatic lighting

We just redid the lighting in the barn’s center aisle so I’m actually really excited about this — it added a fun new modern update to this rustic space while still flooding the barn with warm, traditional light. (In all seriousness, these flat LED lights will save a ton on the electric bill, are virtually indestructible by overeager horse noggins and they don’t get hot — win win win for a barn setting.)

3. Huge yard

It doesn’t matter if you have one Chihuahua or eighteen kids — the house buyers on HGTV absolutely must have a huge yard that provides versatile space for wearing out said dog or offspring while also providing outdoor living and entertainment spaces with fancy things like a fire pit, outdoor kitchen, maybe some of those big-bulb carnival lights that are so trendy right now.

Feast your eyes on this giant yard. And yes, we do sometimes have campfires and sleep-outs in this versatile outdoor living space.

4. Walk-in closet

When we talk about our gorgeous and interior-lit walk-in tack room, my sister-in-law and I like to look at each other and giggle: I’ll say things like “oh, there’s plenty of room for my random bit collection in here!” to which she’ll respond “not if my goat feed goes in there first!” So cute.

“This tack room is so big you could put a horse in it!” Get out of there, Winston.

5. Sliding barn doors

Sliding barn doors are HAVING a MOMENT, you guys. Everyone wants them for everything, from “discreet” bathroom doors to closet doors to random bedroom doors even though a conventional hinge door would actually be about 500 times easier, but who’s counting. As it turns out, my barn was fashion-forward this whole time, boasting not one but THREE sliding doors that only occasionally run off their sliders and drive me totally nuts.

6. Board and batten siding

Overshadowed only by its currently-sexier cousin shiplap, board and batten siding is JUST DARLING for when you want to add that rustic touch to your living room, guest room, random bathroom wall or heck — the whole house. While the front-facing sides to the barn were redone with metal siding more recently, the back sides are still the original board and batten painted in screaming “barn red” which makes our home style sense totally on point.

7. Your adorable hosts

For all of the above reasons plus this super-staged photo for a product review, my husband and I could totally be equestrian home style makers for HGTV. Just call us Chip and Joanna.

Photo by Kim Bentley

Thursday Video: How to Measure Your Horse for a Blanket with SmartPak

Horses are like people: they come in every size and shape, and a horse that you might “ballpark” to fit in a blanket size 78 might actually be more comfortable in a 75. But how can you tell? How can you ensure BEFORE you buy that expensive new blanket that the size you ordered will fit your horse just right?

You measure, of course! If you’ve never measured a horse for a blanket, SmartPak is here with a helpful how-to video to demonstrate exactly how this process works and what you need to do to make sure you’ve got the proper size.

Thanks, SmartPak! Need more information on blankets and blanketing? Don’t miss SmartPak’s in-depth Blanketing Guide. You can also browse the full selection of stable blankets, turnout blankets, sheets, hoods, coolers and more at SmartPakEquine.com!