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Amanda Uechi Ronan


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Holiday Horse Safety: Fourth of July

July is my most nerve wracking time of the year. Here’s how I deal. This post originally appeared on Horse Nation.

Why does this child appear to be holding TNT?

Why does this child appear to be holding TNT? Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Before the Crazy

1. Take a current photo of every pet — including horses — in case they escape.

I photograph both sides and get a detailed shot of each horse’s face. A police officer once recommended taking the photo with myself or a family member, to be used in the event someone else tries to claim my horse. *Ideally the photos below should be on flat ground where his white stockings would be easier to identify.


2. Don’t be afraid of supplements.

One of my horses is a nervous wreck if the neighbor mows their lawn at an odd time, so I’m definitely not afraid to give him a little “happy paste” when small scale explosions are expected. I prefer non-presription options such as chamomile, but if you have a competition in the near future I’d go with something along the lines of SmartPak’s SmartCalm.

3. Don’t ride, but spend lots of time hanging out.

This is entirely my opinion based on my horse’s preferences. Some horses might feel more tense if they don’t get worked, but my crew tends to enjoy a refreshing bath and – our only 4th of July tradition – eating watermelon.

4. Prepare for injury.

Keep an appropriate first aid kit on hand to treat any wounds should your horse spook and hurt him or herself.


5. Make a goodie basket for neighbors.

This is something I just started last year and the goodwill came back in folds. Basically, I threw together a bunch of snack foods and drinks in goodie baskets and gave them to every neighbor within a quarter mile. Attached was my cell phone number and a little note asking them to text a quick head’s up before they started shooting fireworks. The plan worked beautifully, giving me plenty of time to safely tuck my herd away.

During the Hoopla

1. Check everything twice.

Keep horses and livestock in safely fenced areas and as far from the excitement and noise as possible.

2. Leave on the lights and radio.

In my opinion, it’s not the loud noises and bright lights that scare horses but the sudden loud noises and bright lights. Having a base line from a radio softly playing and a few overhead lights can help soften the blow.

3. Load them up with hay.

A horse that’s eating is a horse that’s happy. Keep them stationary and plugged into that small hole hay net.


The After Party

1. Check your pastures for firework debris.

2. Smile knowing you’ve survived yet another instance of otherwise sane people blowing things to kingdom come. Happy Birthday, ‘Murica!

Memorial Day: Honoring the Horses of War

“As a person who has enjoyed the company of many horses over the years, I thank heaven that I have never had to take one to war.” — General Sir Frank Kitson

The first records of horses used in warfare date to Eurasia between 4000 and 3000 BC. This Sumerian illustration, dated from 2500 BC, depicts horses pulling wagons.


Public domain.

The earliest written training manual for war horses was a guide for training chariot horses written at approximately 1350 BC followed by a guide to training riding horses in 360 BC, written by Greek cavalry officer Xenophon.

Muslims …

Public domain.

Public domain.

Knights of the Crusades ….

Public domain.

Public domain.

Japanese Samurai …

Public domain.

Public domain.

American Indian tribes, such as the Comanche …


Public domain.

… and Civil War soldiers all used the horse as a powerful weapon of war.


Public domain.

A few of the more interesting facts I discovered were, “that stallions were often used as destriers due to their natural aggression. However, there may have been some use of mares by European warriors, and mares, who were quieter and less likely to call out and betray their position to the enemy, were the preferred war horse of the Moors, who invaded various parts of Southern Europe from 700 AD through the 15th century. Geldings were used in war by the Teutonic Knights, and known as monk horses. One advantage was if captured by the enemy, they could not be used to improve local bloodstock, thus maintaining the Knights’ superiority in horseflesh.” – Wikipedia

Public domain.

Public domain.

At the turn of the 20th century during WWI, millions of horses were sent to the war front.


Public domain.

In an effort to protect them from mustard gas, experimental gas masks were produced.

Public domain.

Public domain.

Still, horses were struggling to find their place in modern warfare. Trenches, barbed wire, machine guns and finally tanks, introduced in 1917, would render cavalry almost useless. No longer a glorious mount for a soldier, the horses were reduced to pack animals, hauling millions of pounds of ammunition, guns and supplies to the front.

Public domain.

Public domain.

“Horses were easier targets than men, and you could do more damage to the enemy’s supply lines if you hit the horses,” says Simon Butler, author of War Horses. Still, without working railroads, horses were the only transport for heavy equipment, men and supplies. 8 million of these silent, tireless heroes would not survive the war. “Of the one million horses which left Britain for the Western Front, just 60,000 returned,” reports DailyMail UK.

Public domain.

Public domain.

It was the role as pack animal that would make horses crucial in the Second World War. The Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Japanese and American (though to a much lesser degree) forces all used horses and mules extensively as pack animals and for scouting missions. In fact, George S. Patton wished for more on the front, saying, “Had we possessed an American cavalry division with pack artillery in Tunisia and in Sicily, not a German would have escaped.”

The German army used 2.75 million horses – more than it used in WWI.

The Soviet Union used 3.5 million.

Most if not all of these horses died on the battlefields or were abandoned after the war.

Only recently have these valiant actions begun to be memorialized: the Horse Memorial stands in Port Elizabeth in South Africa, specifically in memory of horses who died in the Boer War.


Wikimedia Commons/NJR ZA/CC


Other memorials for war horses through the ages stand in Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and the United States, among others.

And yet the fighting is still not over. A small number of horses are still required for scouting missions and undercover operations even today by multiple countries. The book, Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton, details how American Special Forces utilized horses extensively during the recent war in Afghanistan.

However, the only remaining non-ceremonial, operationally-ready, fully horse-mounted regular regiment in the world is the Indian Army’s 61st Cavalry.

Remember to honor all the fallen veterans this Memorial Day, four legged or two.

Go Riding.


Model Bella Hadid Wants to Be an Olympic Eventer

This post originally appeared on EN’s sister site, Horse Nation.

The model/celebutante has revealed her pursuit for a spot on the 2016 US Olympic team. Heavy reported, “Hadid started her equestrian career at age 3 and has won many awards for riding in her nearly 15 year career, according to Yolanda Foster’s website.”

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star and Bella’s mom has since taken down the website, though she did recently post this photo of Bella and a horse.

An equestrian at Heart, Always and Forever………. @bellahadid #PreciousLove

A photo posted by YOLANDA (@yolandahfoster) on

Bella competed successfully throughout 2013 in Equitation Over Fences classes. Her last three competitions on record with the USHJA were the Showpark Summer Classic, Gold Coast Series and the Los Angeles International Jumping Festival aboard “Night Cap.” Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 12.52.10 PM You can watch Bella and Night Cap at an unnamed event in this video from 2012.

“My devotion stemmed from my mom’s love of horses. I have been riding since I could walk and the fact that my mom knew everything about horses really helped my passion grow,” Bella told Porter Magazine. The model likened horse riding to yoga and claimed it helped her “maintain balance” amidst her globe trotting lifestyle.

A video posted by Bella Hadid (@bellahadid) on

But if you’re looking for the next beloved equestrian celebrity, i.e. Kaley Cuoco, you might want to look away now, because I’m calling shenanigans. While Bella has the very occasional horsey post, like this one from 13 months ago…

A photo posted by Bella Hadid (@bellahadid) on

… or this one which included her horse “Lego,” presumably Night Cap, from 16 months past…

A photo posted by Bella Hadid (@bellahadid) on

I mean, you can’t just decide to be an Olympian overnight, especially not in eventing … the model’s chosen discipline according to Fashion Times. A quick search in the USEA Rider Records proved Bella Hadid is not currently in the system.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.24.43 AM

Whether she was simply toying with the media — a valid theory considering her #squad — or really is making an attempt at Rio for 2016, Horse Nation wishes you all the best, Bella!

Go Riding!