AJ Dyer
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AJ Dyer


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About AJ Dyer

Visionaire is one of the foundation writers of Eventing Nation from the very early days in 2010. She has ridden up to Advanced level and spent six years as head groom for Dorothy Crowell. After a few years in the Thoroughbred industry, she now spends her time writing for EN, riding a few nice OTTBs, and working with her husband's hay business, A.T. Acres Farm.

Latest Articles Written

FLAIR Nasal Strips Doubtful for California Chrome’s Belmont

Trading Aces is one of many eventers who wears a FLAIR nasal strip.  Photo by Kasey Mueller. Trading Aces is one of many eventers who wears a FLAIR nasal strip. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

California Chrome is one of many racehorses that now wear FLAIR Nasal Strips when they run.  As eventers, we’re pretty familiar with the product– I remember receiving the first black ones in my show packet some ten years ago.  Since they can help open nasal passages, perhaps allowing for better oxygen intake, it makes sense that racing trainers would jump on board with any possible advantage to improve their horses’ performance.  Most tracks allow it and consider it an optional piece of equipment like blinkers or front bandages.

Two years ago, I’ll Have Another won the Derby and the Preakness in his FLAIR nasal strip, but speculation ensued when Belmont Park announced the strip was prohibited.  New York racing does not recognize FLAIR nasal strips as most other states do.  I’ll Have Another was scratched and retired just days before the Belmont Stakes due to injury, so he never faced the reality of running without it.  But California Chrome now sits in the same position: no FLAIR strip for the Belmont.

USA Today has an article on this very subject, and points out that harness horses are allowed to wear the strips, but Thoroughbreds are not.  Also, this decision seems to be up to the New York racing stewards, not a New York State Racing and Wagering Board rule.  Perhaps there is a little wiggle room to permit the FLAIR strips, if the stewards’ minds can be swayed?

California Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman admits that using the FLAIR nasal strip was owner Perry Martin’s idea.  And since the horse has won six times wearing it, why change?  Chrome’s owners could put some pressure on New York officials by taking their horse elsewhere should their “normal” equipment not be allowed — but really, would you take your horse away from a possible Triple Crown win just to make a point?  Still, the general public will not see the harm in the nasal strips, which are fundamentally a springy piece of adhesive tape, especially in a racing state where multiple medications are allowed on race day.  What’s the harm, and where’s the unfair competitive advantage?

If California Chrome is good enough to win the Belmont, he’s probably good enough to do it without a FLAIR nasal strip.  But the “people’s horse” will have so much support it’s hard to see how New York stewards will turn him down.  With or without his nasal strip, I hope we see a big white nose crossing the finish line first on Belmont Stakes day.

Chase Creek Returns to Canadian Eventing

Former Canadian Team member Sandra Donnelly jogs at Chase Creek.  Photo by Trish Bosch. Former Canadian Team member Sandra Donnelly jogs at Chase Creek. Photo by Trish Bosch.

It’s been ten years, but Canada’s jewel Chase Creek is back to hosting events again.  This weekend features the Mustang Powder Horse Trials offering pre-training, training, preliminary, CIC*, and CCI* divisions.  Sandra Donnelly currently leads the CCI* with Belshazzar, while Nikki Ayers and Rubicon top the CIC*.  [Live Scores]  Many thanks to Trish Bosch for keeping us informed!

From Trish:

The setting is Chase Creek, which will be a name familiar to those on the West coast as well as all the Canadian team migrants now based in the East or abroad, who grew up eventing at Chase. Rebecca Howard was a working student for 1988 Olympian Nick Holmes-Smith. Hawley Bennett, Steph Rhodes-Bosch, and Shandiss Macdonald all spent their formative years stabled in the rustic woods of Chase Creek and iced their horses in the creek.

The event has not run in 10+ years, everyone is excited and grateful for the opportunity to once again compete here. Nick and his wife Ali have completely rebuilt the course using the talents of builder Laurie Rowan. See the virtual course walk here: [Course Walk].

While only 13 CCI/CIC horses presented under beautiful British Columbia sunny skies it promises to be an exciting weekend for everyone.

Lightning Strikes Eventing Spectators in Bulgaria

Rain at the AEC's. Photo from Liz Hall Rain at the AEC's. Photo from Liz Hall

According to Horsetalk.co.nz, four people were struck by lightning at an international event in Bulgaria on Saturday.  The spectators were reportedly standing under a tree watching cross-country when the lightning hit.  They sustained non-life threatening injuries and were taken to a hospital for observation.

Let this be a warning to all of us– take thunderstorms seriously!  Most US sporting events have a policy where the event cannot continue until thirty minutes after the lightning was last seen.  While it sometimes feels unnecessary, it’s done with competitors’ (and spectators’!) safety in mind.   Lightning can hit within five to ten miles of a storm, so if you can hear thunder, you are within risk.

According to the National Weather Service,  an average of 25 million lightning strikes are detected each year in the United States. The peak season for lightning strikes is during the summer — prime eventing season — with most deaths from lightning strikes occurring in June, July, and August.  Over 400 people are struck by lightning each year; don’t let one of them be you!


California Chrome Wins the Preakness!

The Triple Crown dream is still alive, as California Chrome looked spectacular winning the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.  Jockey Victor Espinoza rode a safe race to get California Chrome in the clear, lying just off the pace for the first half mile.  He made a big move around the home turn and held off a determined bid from Ride On Curlin in the final furlong.  Social Inclusion finished well beaten in third.   The time was 1:54 and four fifths, which should silence the naysayers who picked at his slow Derby fractions.

Could there be a better story than “the people’s horse,” a flashy chestnut splashed in white who runs with his heart for the wire?  Could this be the Triple Crown winner we’ve been waiting for?  Bring on the Belmont!

Doug Payne and Crown Talisman Arrive In France

Doug Payne's view from Crown Talisman in Chantilly, France.  Photo via Doug's facebook page. Doug Payne's view from Crown Talisman in Chantilly, France. Photo via Doug's facebook page.

After a very successful spring season, Doug Payne and Crown Talisman have made it to Chantilly, France ready for the Saumur CCI3* next weekend.  Fresh off a win in the Jersey Fresh CIC3*, the pair has high hopes for an excellent finish in Tali’s first European trip.

Doug is not alone in representing the USA; Liz Halliday will also be there with Fernhill By Night.  Liz had HHS Cooley also entered, however a foot bruise will keep him out of the competition.  Saumur features the French course designer Pierre Michelet, who is responsible for the WEG track at Normandy later this year– hopefully they can gain some valuable intel for the rest of our US Team riders!

Be sure to check out Doug’s blog, facebook page, and photo gallery for more from Chantilly.  [Saumur Entries]

Jon Holling and Proper Timing Win the CHC International CIC3*

The top three celebrate in the CIC3*. Photo via Wallace Eventing Facebook page. The top three celebrate in the CIC3*. Photo via Wallace Eventing Facebook page.

Jon Holling and Proper Timing managed to overcome their three rails in show jumping last night with a clear trip on cross-country today to take home the win in the USEA Adequan Gold Cup CIC3* division at CHC International.  Only four riders went clear in the small division, with three riders who did not finish cross-country and three others who had a stop– including overnight leader Jessica Bortner-Harris and Win The War.

In the two-star division, Sarah Dunkerton went fast and clean with Matapeake to move up for the win.  Caroline Martin and Roller Skate finished second adding no jumping penalties to their dressage score, and Andrew Palmer with the Trakehner stallion Tatendrang finished third.  The CIC2* course seemed to ride well, with 16 clear rounds out of 17 finishers, and only three horses who did not complete cross-country.

[Chatt Hills Live Scores]

Final CIC3* Results

  1. Jonathan Holling / Proper Timing  75.5
  2. Nilson Moreira da Silva / Muggle  80.4
  3. Elisa Wallace / Simply Priceless  88.2
  4. Leah Lang-Gluscic / A.P. Prime  90.2
  5. Jessica Bortner-Harris / Win the War  97.7

Final CIC2* Results

  1. Sarah Dunkerton / Matapeake  60.5
  2. Caroline Martin / Roller Skate  61.9
  3. Andrew Palmer / Tatendrang  67.7
  4. Katherine Rivera / Royal Lufftanzer  68.0
  5. Ellie Van Gemeren / Gemini Pilot  70.2

Connecticut Finally Decides Horses Are Not Vicious

Who wants a cookie?

Vicious?  I think not.

In 2006, a child was bitten by a horse in Milfort, Conn., and a mess of lawsuits followed. TheHorse.com reports that the case has now been settled, but not without drama. An initial court ruling in 2010 sided with the horse’s owner, as the horse had no history of ill behavior. However, this ruling was overturned in a 2012 appeal. That decision stated that horse owners and caretakers have “a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent injuries that are foreseeable because the animal belongs to a species or breed that is naturally inclined to cause such injuries, and that the owner may be held liable for negligence if he or she fails to take such reasonable steps and an injury results.” This decision resulted in court decisions on a case-by-case basis.

By classifying horses as “vicious” and dangerous, equine businesses in Connecticut were facing the possibility of increased insurance rates or losing insurance coverage altogether. Thankfully, the state legislature stepped up and created a bill to prevent domesticated horses from that classification. Going forward, lawsuits will be based on the presumption that a horse, pony, donkey or mule is not inherently dangerous, which could then be rebutted by evidence pertaining to a particular animal of the equine species.  You can read the bill itself here.

Scores from CHC International Going into CIC Cross-Country

Screenshot of Jessica Bortner-Harris and Win the War via RNS Video Screenshot of Jessica Bortner-Harris and Win the War via RNS Video

CHC International had a great day yesterday, culminating in show jumping under the lights for the CIC3* division.  EN’s own Jessica Bortner-Harris was tied for the lead after dressage, and a beautiful clear jumping round with only one time fault gave them the sole lead after Jon Holling and Proper Timing pulled three rails.  Cross-country begins today for the CIC3* division around 2:25pm.  Check out the PRO site or their Ustream page for the possibility of live streaming radio on XC from John Kyle at Chatt Hills.

[Live Scores]  [Ride Times]

CIC 3*

1. Jessica Bortner-Harris / Win The War  56.1
2. Zachary Brandt / Cavallino Cocktail  56.5
3. Will Faudree / DHI Colour Candy  57.7
4. Jonathan Holling / Proper Timing  67.1
5. Buck Davidson / Wiley Post  73.2

CIC 2*

1. Katherine Rivera / Royal Lufttanzer  52.8
2. Caroline Martin / Roller Skate  55.1
3. Bonner Carpenter / Basco  55.2
4. Sarah Dunkerton / Matapeake  59.7
5. Ellie Van Gemeren / Gemini Pilot  60.6

CIC 1* – A

1. Sara Beth Anton / Blitz Volo  47.6
2T. Elizabeth New / Uppercrust D  50.5
2T. Daisy Trayford / Exmoor Denver  50.5
4T. William Hoos / Brookfield Cult King  53.2
4T. Nobie Cannon / Bust A Groove  53.2

CIC 1* – B

1. Bill Hoos / Celtic Rhythm  48.9
2. Lynne Partridge / Zoe  51.2
3. Kelly Taylor Kynynmont Indeliby Irish  53.9
4. Megan Wilson / Ghypsy  54.5
5. Kelsey Regan / Revelation  57.5

From Horse Nation: 5 DIY Jump Projects Under $20

Carley Sparks over at Horse Nation put together these fantastic jump making ideas on the cheap.  Even if you are the least crafty person in the universe, you can turn your field of jumping dreams into reality. I especially love the jump cup alternative!


From Carley:

When Martha Stewart does a DIY project, the result looks simple and picture-perfect. Then you find out there are 500 steps that require a bunch of tools you’ve never heard of, rare vintage materials only available in countryside antique shops and obscure ingredients you’re not sure even exist. Like unicorn tears.

The result is that by step 17 you’re ready to cry. And/or put a pencil in Martha’s eyeball. These are not those kinds of projects. Presenting DIY jumps so easy ANYONE COULD DO THEM. Even you…

1. DIY Barrel Jump

Two ways. One easy.

">barrel jump barrels


Total cost: Liver damage from all the homemade wine. Or free! (When you pillage your neighbour’s homebrew stock.)

2. DIY Jump Rails

This tip is from John Mahlendorf at the Oakhill Farm, NY and is perhaps the most advance, based solely on the fact you need an electrical tool to do it. The difficulty ends there.

DIY-Jumping-Poles1 (1)

[John Mahlendorf]

With a table saw, cut 1 1/2 inches at a 45 degree angle off the corners of a 4″ by 4″. Bingo! Eight sided rail.

Total cost: $12

3. DIY Jump Cups

You know jump poles need? Jump cups. If you can string a chunky necklace, you can make this version.

Homemade jump cups


For added safety, cap the pin with an old squash ball on each end.

Total cost: Under $3

4. DIY Liverpool

Make your own liverpool. WITH A TARP.

DIY Liverpool


This tip is courtesy of Bridlewood Equestrian. And it requires an 8′x6′ tarp, two 7′ landscape poles and a heavy duty stapler.

To start, fold the tarp in half, slide one pole into the folded half and staple the tarp down. Roll the other pole with the open side of the tarp and staple. Then fold up the short ends up to form the side edges and staple again. Boom! You’ve got a lightweight liverpool that can be easily rolled to shorten the width or pack away in storage.

Total cost: $11

7. DIY Gate Jump

Repurpose an old pallet with paint.

pallet jump


Hook on jump cup. Done.

Total cost: old paint and your artistic ambitions.

Go riding!

Carley Sparks covers show jumping and related ridiculousness atgetmyfix.org.

One Year Later

Harley at 6 days old.  Photo by Ivegotyourpicture.com.

Harley at 6 days old.

My husband woke me up from a light nap at 2am May 13, 2013.  “It’s time,” he said.  “She’s been restless the last twenty minutes, and she’s down for good now.”  Sure enough, looking at the TV, my mare was down.  It was Go Time.

“Remember, you said I get to name him!” my husband said, “Whatever name *I* choose, you have to call him that!”  We’d made an agreement: he was allowed to give the foal a barn name, I got to pick the show name.

We moved quickly but quietly in the barn, turned on the light and brought the foaling kit.  I wrapped her tail, where two tiny hooves appeared.  My mare looked up, wondering why the hell her belly hurt so much and what was going on back there.  We stood back and watched a few moments as she strained and pushed, but didn’t seem to get anywhere.

“I’ll check her,” my husband said.  With years of foaling experience on TB farms, we both knew what was normal and what was not.  But it’s so different when it’s YOUR mare!  She got up again.  My husband tried to approach her hind end but she was restless, nervous, upset, and he didn’t trust her (he doesn’t trust her much anyway, as a rule).  After years of running intermediate and a few advanced events together, I knew her and trusted her. Not waiting for a pair of gloves, I reached in. My heart was in my throat.

I felt front legs, a nose, a chin, and jawbones.  A jaw where the forehead should be.  The foal was twisted.

To make matters worse, my cell phone– with the vet’s phone number– was dead.  My husband went to the house to plug it in and try to call the vet.  My mare was down again, and rolled.  I got her up and got her moving.  Walking her around the yard, it gave the foal a chance to slide back down a bit and re-position.  It doesn’t always work, but it was worth a try.

I brought her back to her stall where she promptly went down again.  I reached in and felt the nose and a forehead. A forehead: SUCCESS!  I helped pull as she pushed, and my husband grabbed a front foot as well.  Finally, he was out.  A fancy dark bay colt with a brilliant white face and three white feet.  He whimpered a shrill little whinny, and my mare’s head shot around– What Was THAT?!  And then she nickered back, the deep calming voice that every mare says to her newborn, the nicker that tugs at your heartstrings no matter how many times you’ve heard it before.

“So, what will you call him?” I asked my husband.  “Look at all that chrome!” he said.  “He’s all chromed-up.  Let’s call him Harley.”  And thus, Harley was born.


Of course, that was just the beginning.  We still had to get him up and nursing, a chore my maiden mare was not so thrilled about.  After a few tries, though, it seemed they got the hang of it.  After re-bedding the stall, we left them alone to rest, and get a couple hours sleep ourselves. After he was fully dry, you could see a tiny, faint rim of gray around his eyes, and he lacked the mousy brown color of a true bay.  Sadly, the pretty dark bay was not going to stay: Harley would eventually be gray like his mom.

Nursing, 8 hrs old

When I went out at a more civilized time to feed, I found Harley sleeping quietly with my mare standing watch over him like a guard dog. She’d hardly eaten any hay, and grabbed her grain by small mouthfuls only when he wobbled near her food pan.  She would not leave his side, and stared high-headed over the stall walls looking for predators– you never know when wolves or lions might attack!  Thankfully, her protective instincts did not extend to people, and she was quite cooperative for us to handle him.

Standing guard, watching for predators!

Standing guard, watching for predators!

The vet came out later that day to do an IGG test– to make sure Harley had received proper antibodies from colostrum.  Unfortunately, due to her leaking milk the few days prior to foaling, Harley’s IGG count was very low.  The timeframe to administer extra colostrum was rapidly closing, and we decided to give him plasma to be on the safe side.  It’s a bit expensive, but really just a drop in the bucket when you look at the whole cost of breeding.  Harley was always healthy and active, and I’m glad we kept him that way.

Crooked legs, eyes turning gray, but that white face!

Crooked legs, eyes turning gray, but that white face!

As with most foals, Harley came out all kinds of crooked.  He was very knock-kneed, a little upright in front, and a little down in the pasterns behind.  Being all balled up for 11 months tends to make a long-legged creature look like a pretzel, so there wasn’t too much to worry about just yet.  I did limit his turnout a little the first month, just to make sure he didn’t stress those crooked legs and make them worse.

knock-kneed      About two months old, those legs are still wonky.

As Harley grew his legs slowly straightened out on their own, with some regular farrier work.  He had some ugly growth spurts, as they all do, but he’s turning out pretty nice.  Breeding is always a crapshoot, and the first thing you want is a healthy foal and mare… then you start hoping you get what you wished for in that master plan a year ago.  Still, you won’t know the true success of your matchmaking until several years later.

About three months old-- legs a little better, and that bay baby fuzz is growing out.

About three months old– legs a little better, and that bay baby fuzz is growing out.

Harley has been a good colt with a fun personality, pretty easy to work with from the very beginning.  He learned to tie at feeding time around two months old, and cross-tied by six months.  He leads respectfully at walk and trot, stands for a bath, and loads on a trailer.  I’ve ponied him off my Training level gelding, and he’s been body clipped twice (like a pro!).  I don’t overhandle him, though, and he gets plenty of time to be a horse with his grown-up friends.  He plays pretty rough, but the old guys let him know when to knock it off.

July 2013 65

There’s still a lot he has yet to learn, and there’s still much to prove before I know if my decision to breed was ultimately correct.  As my husband likes to point out, it’s definitely cheaper to go buy a four-year-old OTTB (that already is broke to saddle and proportionately grown!) than it is to breed, foal out, and raise a youngster who may not turn out at all what you want.  But I cannot put into words the pride at watching your baby– your planning, your hopes and dreams, out of your favorite awesome mare– grow up before your very eyes.  It’s all worth it, to me.

July 2013 75

I try very hard to be objective and not “barn blind” when evaluating my horses, and especially Harley.  I’m ultra critical…does he move well enough?  Is that leg straight?  Could he use a little more weight, or a little less?  Is he too small?  Is he as nice as I really think he is?  Without other yearlings in my care, I don’t have anything to measure him against on a daily basis.  When I took him to the Future Event Horse Seminar in February, I was very eager to get an outside opinion; imagine my pride when he was scored as a “9” on conformation and type (this, the once crooked, floppy-legged foal!), and received many compliments on his correctness, proportions, and balance.  He doesn’t have a warmblood trot with floaty suspension, but that’s what I was willing to sacrifice in breeding a full TB.  What I wanted was a true galloping and jumping athlete with brains, stamina, and heart.  The FEH seminar confirmed my breeding decision was a good one so far, and made me so excited for what’s to come later as Harley grows into his potential.

Ready for the FEH Seminar at 10 months old

Ready for the FEH Seminar at 10 months old.  Photo by ivegotyourpicture.com.

Until then, I’ll enjoy every day as I get to watch him run and play outside, goading my Training level star into a game of chase, or ambushing my 21-year-old “grandpa” gelding.  I love seeing his big white face greet me over the gate, with ears that remind me of his mother.  Most of all, I look forward to the day when will I see the world in front of me between those ears.

Winona Horse Trials Steps Up Safety

Julie McElhaney with her young CANTER prospect Scappare  hang out with the chopper and crew.  Photo from Jackie Smith. Julie McElhaney with her young CANTER prospect Scappare hang out with the chopper and crew. Photo from Jackie Smith.

While Badminton and Jersey Fresh were taking center stage this weekend, the Winona Horse Trials in northeast Ohio was taking safety just as seriously as the ‘big time’ events do.  In addition to the usual medical crew on grounds, a Med Flight helicopter was also on site.  Pilot Herman Valentine contacted Jackie Smith to get the idea off the ground.  He had attended the Mini Trials with his daughter and witnessed a few people falling and he thought that it might be a good idea to have a plan in place with Med Flight Ohio in case their services may be needed.  Sunday was a trial run with the local volunteer fire department and competition officials. Everything went without a hitch and many of the spectators and competitors, and at least one horse got to check out the helicopter.  Happily, the air flight services were not needed but  it’s nice to know that they were readily available.

Jackie reports that “local firemen were pretty excited about their practice run as helicopters dropping into a rural hay field is not exactly an every day occurrence around here!”

Many thanks and a round of applause to Jackie Smith for orchestrating another fantastic event and taking further steps in competitors’ safety.

Med Flight Landing

Event secretary Penne Colao & her great Dane puppy Peaches.

Event secretary Penne Colao & her great Dane puppy Peaches.

Phillip Dutton and Icabad Crane Chosen For America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred Contest

Icabad Crane schools cross country with Phillip Dutton. Photo by Maggie Kimmitt. Icabad Crane schools cross country with Phillip Dutton. Photo by Maggie Kimmitt.

The second annual Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover-A Marketplace and National Symposium will be held this October 4 and 5 at Pimlico Race Course. At the event, a winner will be crowned for the new “America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred” contest. This year’s event features 10 teams of an off-track horse, a trainer and the horse’s racing connections. Follow them on the RRP website all summer long and they will compete at Pimlico this fall for a $10,000 grand prize.

RPP will announce ten teams later this month.  However, in honor of the Preakness Stakes this weekend, it was released today that Phillip Dutton and 3rd place Preakness finisher Icabad Crane have been named to participate in the contest.  Phillip has had Icabad Crane in training since last fall, and it will be exciting to see how far they progress together.  Icabad is owned by Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion and his wife Anita.


Leaving a ‘Paper Trail’ at Greenwood Horse Trials

Angela Grzywinski and Make A Fuss at Greenwood Farm. Photo by Photon Hunt. Angela Grzywinski and Make A Fuss at Greenwood Farm. Photo by Photon Hunt.

Many thanks to the official show photographer from the May 3 event, The Photon Hunt, for passing this picture along to us!

We are the show photographers for the Greenwood Farm Horse Trials. The attached image by Cosmo Flores-Kinney, of Angela Grzywinski riding ‘Make a Fuss’ in Open Training, might appeal to your readers.

Angela had apparently been storing sheets from several past shows in her pinny holder.

She was “leaving a paper trail.”

Let that be a lesson to us all — remove those old paper numbers before you add a new one, lest you leave a flurry of past pinnies behind you!

Badminton Wrap Up from Around the Net

Harry Meade and Wild Lone at Badminton. Photo by Jenni Autry. Harry Meade and Wild Lone at Badminton. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Now that Badminton 2014 is over, let’s take a look at the words flying around the interweb.  [Final Badminton Horse Trials results]

From the fabulous At Badminton Blog:

What Did the Prizewinners Have to Say?   Riders offer some positive reviews of the tough cross-country course, and third placed Harry Meade says, “I just did what I’ve done for the last nine years. I was pretty relaxed – the last 6 months have put things into perspective so I wasn’t feeling over ambitious. I simply wanted to enjoy it. The result has exceeded all expectations though!”

Frangible Pins — Where Were They Triggered?   Of the nine fences equipped with frangible pins, the safety devices were put into use at four different obstacles– up to seven times at one in particular.

Riders Reactions to Cross-Country   Hear it “straight from the horse’s mouth” as riders offered their thoughts on how the course rode.  Many agreed that the footing really took a lot out of their horses, and praised the heart and effort of their mounts.

An Owner’s Tale: Charlotte Opperman  Charlotte Opperman owns Harry Meade’s mount Wild Lone– her first time owning an event horse.  She admitted to feeling nervous about cross-country after watching the “carnage” happening earlier in the day– but at the end, the feeling of total elation.

If #nicholsonontwitter was the spring fling of 2013, #WheresWhittington is the hit of 2014.  The twitter hashtag garnered plenty of attention throughout Badminton week, making Francis Whittington photos pop up everywhere– even with the EN Chinch!  Francis even had his own contest going, much to the delight of his fans!

The Horse & Hound never disappoints with their Badminton coverage:

Read the H&H cross-country report, with plenty of quotes from riders and course designer, Guiseppe della Chiesa.  While it’s disappointing that only 35 of the 78 starters completed, Paul Tapner said “We want it to be influential,” and it certainly was.

Here is the H&H final Badminton report, including interviews with top finishers Sam Griffiths and Oliver Townend.

From a different perspective: The British Grooms Association caught up with Imogen Mercer, groom for winner Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh (Brocks). “After cross country you have to make sure that you don’t miss anything in case you need to get the ice on. If you miss something and a leg blows up that could be game over. After Brocks had cooled off I gave her another bath so that all I had to do in the morning was plait for the trot up. I am lucky with Brocks that she is very tough and we just iced her as you would routinely ice any horse.”

Want some video highlights?  Click here for 3 minutes of cross-country highlights from harveywetdog.  And even if you’ve already seen it, this video of Mary King’s awesome save is worth watching again!  Need some cuteness?  How about the Shetland Pony Grand National?

And last, a touching Instagram:  After a terrible crushing fall last year, Harry Meade wasn’t sure if he’d ever ride again.  He recovered fully, and finished third at one of the most difficult Badmintons in this century.  Two thumbs up, Harry!

William Fox-Pitt Takes Time To Be A Hero

William Fox-Pitt is not just a winner in the saddle, he is a wonderful person and ambassador for our sport. Many thanks to Dennis Holmes for sending us this story of how William took a moment to be someone’s hero.  

William and D-2 Pony Clubber

William and D-2 Pony Clubber Tiernan Holmes.

From Dennis:

I have a great story attesting to the man William is. My daughter, Tiernan Holmes, is a Pony Club D2 who is volunteering at Rolex this year and was working the gate on dressage day. William saw her on his first ride and as she is very small for her age and was remaining extremely quiet, when he dismounted, he asked if she would like a picture with him. It was the experience of her life.

During his afternoon ride she was actually on the gate and he again noticed her as she was quietly clapping at the gate as he exited the arena. He graciously tipped his hat to her. An obvious winner in competition, he is truly a man of character off the horse as well as on it. Winner or not tomorrow, he is a hero to my daughter and very appreciated by a father and mother!

Thanks William Fox Pitt for making my daughter’s first Rolex experience one she will never forget!

Pedigree Analysis of Rolex Thoroughbreds

Michael Pollard and Mensa, an OTTB who won over $92,000. Photo by Jenni Autry. Michael Pollard and Mensa, an OTTB who won over $92,000. Photo by Jenni Autry.

As I chatted along in the EN Live Blog this weekend, I tried to include pedigrees of the Thoroughbreds competing at Rolex this weekend. Now that the event is over, let’s take a look at their breeding and see what they share. When I look at pedigrees of established horses, I tend to focus on the third and fourth generation; that’s probably where most of the common names will be found and is sometimes known as the “engine room” of a pedigree.

Conversely, looking at a pedigree of a young, prospect horse, I pay more attention to the first/second/third generation, which will be more responsible for phenotype and predict what the youngster will grow up like.

In no particular order, here are the pedigrees I could find of the Thoroughbreds competing at Rolex this year. Some horses’ information was unavailable from the Rolex entry list (like Tsunami) so I could not include them here. Click each horse’s name for their pedigree.

Libby and Sir Rockstar at the first horse inspection. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Libby and Sir Rockstar. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Libby Head and Sir Rockstar had a fantastic weekend at their first four-star, moving all the way up to finish 19th with a clear round on cross country and double clear in show jumping. This little powerhouse is only 15.1 hands, but he makes the big jumps look easy. Sir Rockstar is by Rockamundo, a son of Key To The Mint out of a Nijinsky daughter, and out of How Unusual (by Great Sun out of a Jester mare). This is a pretty old pedigree, with three grandparents born in the ’60s, so you’ll see a lot of good names up quite close, namely, Key to the Mint (Graustark/Ribot), Nijinsky/Northern Dancer, Bold Ruler, Tom Fool and No Trouble.

Meghan O'Donoghue and Pirate. Photo by Alec Thayer.

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate. Photo by Alec Thayer.

Pirate and Meghan O’Donoghue smoked the cross-country again this year. Pirate really has an ideal Thoroughbred gallop, allowing him to finish the course so easily and effortlessly with his ground-eating stride. That’s why we love TBs! Pirate is by Pirate Stronghold (a son of Seeking The Gold), out of Stars Heir (a daughter of Risen Star, by Secretariat). He is inbred to Vice Regent 3Sx3D, both through a female line, and to Somethingroyal (4Dx5D).  Inbreeding to a dam is fairly rare, so it’s often a good thing to find, especially when it’s a fantastic mare like the dam of Secretariat. Pirate shows some very familiar sire names down the fourth generation: Raise A Native, Buckpasser, Northern Dancer, Nodouble, Bold Ruler, His Majesty, Northern Dancer again and Sir Gaylord. Can’t get much better than that for an OTTB turned sport horse.

Emily Beshear and Here's To You. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Emily Beshear and Here’s To You. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Here’s To You and Emily Beshear didn’t have a good weekend at Rolex this year, but “Quincy” is a gorgeous animal just waiting to fully prove himself at the four-star level. Here’s To You is by Will’s Way (a son of Easy Goer, by Alydar) and out of China Sky (by Skywalker). Once again, a quick scan down the fourth generation sires gives a bunch more names you’ll recognize: Raise A Native, Buckpasser, Intentionally, Hoist The Flag, In Reality (by Intentionally), Damascus and Nodouble.

Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Rachel McDonough and Irish Rhythm. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Irish Rhythm was another Rolex first-timer with Rachel McDonough who went double clear on cross-country. He is by Vice Chancellor (by Vice Regent, remember him from Pirate’s pedigree?), and out of Dawnsari (by Dawn Flight). This is another old pedigree, with grandparents from the 60s. Irish Rhythm’s pedigree is completely free of inbreeding, with a lot of foreign influence (CAN, GB, ITY, FR and ARG). His third and fourth generations include Northern Dancer, Grey Dawn/Herbager and Prince John.

James Alliston and Parker. Photo by Jenni Autry.

James Alliston and Parker. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Parker and James Alliston are no strangers to eventing’s upper levels, and it was evident on cross country at Rolex. The pair blazed around the course, finishing on the fastest time of the day. With a couple rails in show jumping, they ended in 22nd place. Parker is by Marquetry (by Conquistador Cielo); Marquetry is often known for splashy white markings, so Parker’s small star and socks is pretty tame. He is out of Hello Mom, by Caveat. You’ll also notice names like Mr. Prospector, Vice Regent, Cannonade, Raise A Native, Bold Commander, Northern Dancer, Never Bend, Bold Bidder, The Axe and Olympia.

Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Shiraz put in a good effort in dressage and rocked around cross country double clear. While a strained shoulder kept him from completing the event, he has proven himself time and again at the four-star level. Shiraz is by Gallapiat (by Buckpasser), out of Bold Blossom (by Fountain of Gold). Going through his third and fourth generations, you’ll see Tom Fool, Sir Gaylord, Mr. Prospector, Boldnesian, War Admiral, Turn-To, Somethingroyal, My Babu, Raise A Native and Bold Ruler. Are you starting to notice some trends yet?

Katie Frei and Houdini. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Katie Frei and Houdini. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Houdini was one of the younger Rolex first-timers, and he really impressed Karen O’Connor with his athleticism and type. Ridden by Katie Frei, Houdini was a bit green at times but looks like a super horse for the future. This 10-year-old gelding is by Hot Rock (by Geiger Counter, a son of Mr. Prospector) out of Nancy’s Star (by Big Sal, by In Reality). Houdini’s fourth generation includes Raise A Native (twice), Citation, Nearctic, Intentionally and Riva Ridge.

Kaitlin Spurlock and Expedience. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kaitlin Spurlock and Expedience. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Expedience and Kaitlin Spurlock’s four-star debut was a little rough in dressage in the pouring rain, and then their good cross-country round was cut short when the mare suffered an unfortunate injury at the Head of the Lake. Seventeen-year-old “Spedy” has been a steady campaigner at the Advanced level and has earned a great retirement when her broken foot heals. She is by Ayes Turn (by Best Turn) out of Promenador (by Cannonade).  Her third and fourth generations show sires like Turn-To, Bold Bidder, Royal Charger, Swaps, Native Dancer, Bold Ruler, Ribot and Promised Land.

Lindsey Oaks and Enchantez. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lindsey Oaks and Enchantez. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Enchantez and Lindsey Oaks put in a decent dressage test, and then things got a bit wild on cross country. After a glance off at the first water, Enchantez took aim at a Rolex sign and jumped right into the crowd! Lindsey got him back on track to finish the event. Enchantez is by Devil’s Joy (by Devil’s Bag), out of Class Reunion (by General Assembly). Looking at the third and fourth generations: Halo, Chieftain, Secretariat, Tambourine, Hail to Reason, Herbager, Bold Ruler (twice), Native Dancer, Princequillo and Sword Dancer. Enchantez has some good strength in his female relatives as well, including Ballade, Cosmah, Pocahontas, Somethingroyal and Exclusive.

Rachel Jurgens and Ziggy. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Rachel Jurgens and Ziggy. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Rachel Jurgens and 18-year-old Ziggy had a brilliant trip on cross-country, going clear with just a few time penalties and finished 27th overall. Ziggy is by Ziggy’s Boy (by Danzig), and out of Berry Blush (by Foolish Pleasure). The engine of the pedigree includes Northern Dancer (top and bottom), What A Pleasure, Nearctic, Double Jay, Bold Ruler and Tom Fool.

Kyle Carter and Madison Park. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kyle Carter and Madison Park. Photo by Jenni Autry.

After recovering from a devastating injury to his hock, Madison Park made it all the way back to Rolex with Kyle Carter. He was looking super on the cross country until a fall at the Head of the Lake ended their weekend. Still, “Parker” has nothing left to prove at the four-star level. He is by Monaco Magic (by Alymagic), out of Mistress of Mine (by Band Practice). The third and  fourth generations include Alydar, Stop The Music, Raise A Native, Never Bend, Hail To Reason (twice), Honest Pleasure and Fleeting.

Kate Chadderton and Collection Pass. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kate Chadderton and Collection Pass. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kate Chadderton and Collection Pass weren’t on their game this time on cross country, but this 12-year-old Thoroughbred still has a big future. He also has some European influence through his sire, but the bottom half of his pedigree is classic American Thoroughbred. Collection Pass is by Collection Agent (by Dancing Master (FR)), and out of Winged Passage. His third generation features BuckfinderMajestic Light, and a good mare, Laughter. The fourth generation shows Native Dancer, Buckpasser, Majestic Prince and Bold Ruler.

Michael Pollard and Mensa G. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Michael Pollard and Mensa G. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Mensa G and Michael Pollard produced a stunning dressage test to lead Thursday’s group with a score of 49.5. Mensa went clear around his second four-star cross country, picking up two time penalties. Unfortunately, rails and time moved him from top five to a 14th place finish. This 16-year-old gelding is by Belmont winner Colonial Affair (by Belmont winner Pleasant Colony). That’s some serious distance-breeding there! Mensa is out of Fire The Secretary (by Stop The Music). Tell me if you’ve heard these names before — His Majesty, Nijinsky, Hail To Reason, Secretariat, Ribot, Northern Dancer, Raise A Native, Turn-To, Tom Fool, Bold Ruler and Somethingroyal. I think he covers a lot of bases!

So we’ve seen a lot of common ancestors in these pedigrees of successful Thoroughbreds. To be sure, a lot of these names will be found in ANY Thoroughbred pedigree;  the fourth and fifth generations of many horses tend to run together, so U.S.-bred racehorses are sure to share a lot of sires. It’s rare as hen’s teeth nowadays to find a horse without Raise A Native or Northern Dancer somewhere. Still, studying pedigrees is a neat way to explore what makes these horses so successful — along with great training, management and super riders, of course.

RF Smoke on the Water Euthanized After Being Cast in Stall

Marilyn Little and RF Smoke on the Water during Rolex week. Photo by Jenni Autry. Marilyn Little and RF Smoke on the Water during Rolex week. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Marilyn Little has just announced on her facebook page that her fantastic Rolex partner, RF Smoke On The Water, had to be put down following a severe injury after being cast in his stall. Smoke, owned by Raylyn Farms and Phoebe and Michael Manders, had a brilliant weekend at his first four-star, finishing in fifth on his dressage score, and it seemed he was destined for great things. We offer our sincerest condolences to Marilyn and her team during this time. It is so heartbreaking to lose such a special, talented horse far too early.

From Marilyn’s statement:

“It is with incredible difficulty that I relate news of the tragic passing of my cherished partner RF Smoke on the Water.

“Along with four other RF Eventers including his close stablemate RF Demeter, “Smoke” had just returned to our summer base at Raylyn Farms in Maryland to begin a well deserved holiday following a brilliant weekend at Rolex, where he produced two double clear performances in cross country and show jumping. Two days after his arrival, during a late-morning habitual roll in the new bedding that had just been placed in his stall before he went out for the day, Smoke became cast against the wall and was struggling.

“Though Raylyn staff and his longtime caretaker Emily Dufort were immediately in his stall to assist Smoke in righting himself, it became clear that Smoke had sustained an injury during his struggle. At the recommendation of Dr. Richard Forfa who was quickly on the scene at Raylyn to evaluate Smoke’s condition, an emergency equine rescue service was contacted to transport Smoke to The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, where he has since been under the care of Dr. Martin Furr and his team.

“Based on examinations, imaging, system chemistry panels and consultations with other veterinarians, Dr. Furr suggests that Smoke had sustained undefined traumatic injury to his central nervous system while he was cast, possibly due to damage to the cervical or lumbar spine sustained during the ordeal.

“For me, Smoke was the most elegant of partners, a loyal teammate, and a truly wonderful friend. For others, he was a magnetic presence that you sensed was sure of himself in every way; his charismatic persona, can-do attitude, super-sized talent, thorough self confidence, prankster character, and acute awareness of his own stunningly good looks couldn’t help but make you smile.

“Whether he was mischievously kicking up his heels in a dressage test, attacking cross country (his favorite pastime) at age 7 with the skill and wisdom of a 12 year old, or making light work of the show jumping phase in his debut 4*, Smoke squeezed every ounce of fun out of every day and put everything he had into every moment.

“Though I am so thankful for the time that I had with him and feel so blessed to have been a part of his journey, I am stunned by his sudden loss, and devastated for the many people surrounding him whose hearts he had captured.”

Click here to read the full statement

Anne Ward: Montana Clinic Report with Sara Mittleider

Anne Ward is a former eventer trying to get back into it after 11 years of not competing. She has been hosting Sara Mittleider in Montana for Eventing clinics, and kindly sent us a report from Sara’s most recent clinic.  Thanks to Anne for writing, and thank you for reading. 

Photo by Erin Corey.

Photo by Erin Corey.

The stars aligned producing beautiful April weather in Montana for the second Eventing clinic of the season with Sara Mittleider of Mittleider Eventing, Kuna, Idaho. The clinic was hosted by Anne Ward of Sapphire Shadows farm, outside of the town of Corvallis in the gorgeous Bitterroot Valley on April 18-20.

Stadium jumping and dressage lessons were on Friday afternoon and Saturday in the grass arena at the farm. Stadium jumping riders were presented with an exercise that appeared at first glance to be very easy, but turned out to be exceedingly challenging to ride correctly and smoothly. The exercise consisted of straight lines and angled lines over multiple jumps with small controlled, cadenced circles in between the jumps. Those riders lucky enough to ride two days of stadium lessons spent the first day mastering rhythm, control and the lines at a trot, then got to add some canter work to the pattern on the second day. It was a wonderful exercise that combined precision, control, and rhythm while also helping develop the rider’s eye for riding the lines in a course and illustrated the importance of using the entire arena to set your stadium jumping lines up properly. This exercise improved the skills of riders ranging from those going over ground poles to those who jump much higher fences.

On Sunday, riders traveled north to Missoula to practice cross country jumping at the Missoula Equestrian Park. These lessons began with Sara instructing riders on how to get into the correct galloping position, how to go from that position to the position that collects and slows the horse down in preparation for the obstacle, then returning to the jumping position with the rider back in the saddle.

Photo by Erin Corey.

Photo by Erin Corey.

Riders had to use these skills to effectively create the transitions within the canter needed to navigate a cross country course where the horse goes from galloping in between fences to the control and collection needed before a fence or series of fences. Next, this exercise was put to use on several fences jumped in succession where riders had to make these lengthening and shortening changes all happen before settling in before the jump 5 strides or so out. Instruction on how to correctly introduce a horse to jumping banks and ditches was also given as well as hints on how to correctly ride the water complex.

Sara is creating a devoted following in Montana, and we can hardly wait for the next clinic scheduled for May 24-25 with another clinic tentatively scheduled for June 21-22. To have the opportunity to train with someone as skilled, intuitive and educated as Sara is truly a wonderful opportunity and we Montana riders are feeling extremely lucky to have Sara share herself with us.

Tuesday Video from SpectraVet: Elisa Wallace’s Rolex Mustang Demo

Those of us watching Rolex at home were treated to awesome coverage of all three phases this year. But there are other special events happening at Rolex we might have missed — like Elisa Wallace’s fantastic demonstration with her famous mustangs, Fledge and Rune. Luckily, Elisa has the video uploaded to YouTube for everyone to see. Just like we saw the partnership between horses and riders galloping over massive jumps on cross country, Elisa’s bond with her mustangs is clearly evident.

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Tuesday Video from SpectraVet: Getting to Know Dr. Kevin Keane

Meet the “galloping vet” Dr. Kevin Keane, as interviewed by PRO.  Dr. Keane talks about how he came to be involved in the sport through Phillip Dutton, and his first one-star event back in the long format days.  Along with the great partnership developed with the horses, Dr. Keane says that eventing is great preparation for life and has allowed him to build great friendships with riders all over the world.


What Names Do You Like to See in a TB Pedigree? Part I

Courageous Comet.  Photo by Samantha Clark. Courageous Comet. Photo by Samantha Clark.

I admit it, I am a TB aficionado.  I didn’t start that way– my eventing career began with Quarter Horses, I’m proud to say– but when my first Thoroughbred took me to the upper levels, I began to see there was something about them.  Then I spent almost five years working in the central Kentucky Thoroughbred industry, and I became immersed in them.

The great thing about OTTBs, assuming you know their registered name, is that they come with a pedigree easily researched through the Jockey Club (www.equineline.com).  Most of them also appear on pedigreequery.com as well, though it should be known that site is equivalent to Wikipedia; it’s user-entered, and can be a great source of extra info but not always accurate.

When prepping horses and working the sales at Keeneland, you get one-on-one time with a LOT of horses, from weanlings to yearlings to racers to broodmares.  You watch them stand and walk.  You handle them in the barn.  You get an idea for conformation and temperament among individuals, and for particular bloodlines.  You may not be able to pick out which ones will be good sport horses, but that doesn’t mean time spent with race-bred Thoroughbreds is a waste– an eye for athletic conformation will suit across disciplines, as will a smart, trainable brain.

When you look at enough horses, you start to pick out commonalities among bloodlines.  You recognize which sires throw this type of neck, that type of hip; which ones tend to be sprinter bodies, which ones tend more uphill.  You can’t discount the mare, though– while you may not know what she looks like, you can try to research her damsire, and what he tends to add to the mix.  In breeding, there’s always the element of the unknown, but with a big pool of statistics, sometimes you can get a little bit of predictability.


Remember your genetics course at school? Punnet squares? The most important thing to remember when reading a pedigree is early generations count most!!  Don’t get starry-eyed and expect Secretariat to stand in front of because you see Big Red back in the 6th generation.  That means very little.  Look at Mom and Dad, Grandpas and Grandmas, and then filter your way back.  Yes, you will find common ancestors back there– many horses will show some inbreeding if you go far enough back.

So, a pedigree page sits in front of you.  You don’t know what the horse looks like yet; perhaps you just received a catalog from an upcoming sale with 2000 hips.  What horses might interest you?  It’s largely a personal decision, built upon your own experiences, but here are my stand outs if seen in the first 4 generations.

Here’s Part I of names that I like to see.  These would make me underline, circle, and dog-ear the page; if two or more combined, I consider it a must-see.

A.P. Indy and sons, Pulpit (and sons), particularly when crossed with Fappiano

I’ve yet to have a bad impression with a close-up A.P. Indy descendant. Athletic, smart, balanced horses.  A.P. Indy is considered a good stamina influence; he won the Belmont (1.5mi) and is the sire of a Belmont winner (filly Rags To Riches) and a Preakness winner (Bernardini).  Most of them don’t make it to sport horse homes because they are quite successful and valuable as racing/breeding stock.  Chances are you’ll find him filtered out in a sport horse pedigree for this reason…but I’ve seen multiple instances where the 3rd/4th generation will be a strong throwback to AP Indy himself.  Very prepotent, great damsire as well.  Pulpits, in particular, seem to have a very nice uphill neck and shoulder.

Photos:  A.P. Indy, Malibu Moon, AptitudePulpit, Tapit (AP Indy/Fappiano), Bernardini (AP Indy/Fappiano), Cool Coal Man (AP Indy/Fappiano)

Fappiano and sons, including Quiet American, Unbridled, Pentilicus, Cryptoclearance, Rubiano, and others.

Fappiano is the grandsire of Courageous Comet; a little less commercially appealing than some big name sires, he can be found in many successful sport horse pedigrees.  I find them to have good balance, athleticism, can jump and move well.  The Unbridled line (particularly Unbridled’s Song) has a reputation for unsoundness in the front limbs; perhaps because they are talented juveniles, yet slow to develop structurally, they break before they mature.  I don’t discredit them– they’ll likely be fancy– but I’d vet them more thoroughly.

Photos: Fappiano, Quiet AmericanComet Shine, Rubiano,  Unbridled, Empire Maker, Unbridled’s Song

Pleasant Colony

Pleasant Colony was a big, leggy horse with a tendency to pass that on; the ones I’ve known were tall, 16.3-17h.  It’s often heritable for two or three generations beyond, too.  Good movers and jumpers, big gallop, a bit slow to mature physically, but worth it.  No huge commercial appeal, but gets a good enough racehorse you’ll see them around. I like him as a damsire too.

Photos: Pleasant Colony, Pleasantly Perfect, Behrens, St. Jovite


There are so many more!  Stay tuned for Part II.

Thoughts From a Horse Husband: 5 Things I’ve Learned

An eventer’s significant other recently shared a few things he’s learned from his horse-loving wife.  I thought the “better halves” of EN might appreciate these thoughts.

Thoughts From a Horse Husband: Five Things I’ve Learned

  1. There’s more out there than a western/cowboy saddle.  In fact, there’s one saddle for each day of a three-day event.
  2. I’ve learned many different types of jumps, and how to build them.
  3. You can never have too big of a tack room in a trailer…and you always need a bigger trailer.
  4. I know what it’s like to wake up and load horses on a trailer at 5am to get to a horse show and sit all day in the truck waiting for that four-minute dressage ride, then load up to go home by 6pm.
  5. Buy a motor bike.  Saves you from walking cross-country courses, and makes trips to the food stand much faster.


Thoughts From a Horse Husband: Let’s Start a Club

As eventers, we’re crazy. And we embrace it. But equally crazy, are the significant others who love us: the ones who put up with our horse habit, spend long hours at horse shows, and provide emotional support whether we win or lose. Thanks to a dedicated horse husband for these thoughts.

Photo by Ivegotyourpicture.com

Photo by Ivegotyourpicture.com

From a Horse Husband:

Do you husbands remember meeting that perfect woman that had you head over heels?  Well that happened to me.  When we met, we both managed Thoroughbred broodmare farms in Lexington, KY.  We shared stories of foaling, the horses you have bred and raised, and how they did or didn’t go anywhere on the track.  I now know where those horses go that didn’t win at the track: they come to my wife’s barn, supposedly “resale prospects” that always turn into “they are too nice to sell!”

But back to the point.  My wife had one (I repeat ONE) horse when we met three years ago.  It wasn’t hard with just one horse, it took an hour to ride in the evening then it was off to do something we both enjoyed.  But first we have to be at the barn, and can’t leave until she gives kisses and carrots to her best friend.

Besides owning that one horse at the beginning of marriage, I’m going to explain in future blogs how we ended up with more horses than we know what to do with.  We were able to go to Maui when we had one horse, but now three years later we can’t even find the time to go fishing.  I’ll be back soon to let you know how this all works after I go feed her horses for her–she’s sick today, so I have to step up my game.

I’m going to start a club called the Double H (Horses & Hubs) for us guys out there.  That way while we’re at those shows, we can have skeet shoots, card games, or maybe play horse shoes while the wives are with their “other” best friends.