Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association


  • 09/27/2016 8:27 AM | Deleted user

    By Susan Harris

    Continuing Education is amazing! Last winter I was very fortunate to receive a scholarship form MSEDA.  This scholarship allowed me to attend the outstanding USDF Trainers Conference in Wellington, Florida.  The symposium was with Johann Hinnemann.  He has been the coach for German, Dutch and Canadian Olympic Teams.  He also is a Reitmeister or Master Rider.

    Every year the seminar is held at a beautiful farm in the White Fences Equestrian community.  The participants range from 1st level through Gran Prix.  The horses and riders are outstanding!  Each pair has specific issues that are addressed in their sessions.

    It is such a wonderful learning experience to sit around and watch these amazing athletes.  It is always good to hear the about new techniques in dealing with training problems and to refresh yourself on the basics.

    The following are some of the ideas and exercises I found particularly helpful:

    Focus and structure:

    1. Saying out loud what you plan to do at each letter.

    2. Visualize each movement you plan to do.

    3. How should it look - how to prepare to do the movement – finish & evaluate.


    1. Not to go so deep in corners as to upset the rhythm or cadence.

    2. Always shoulder fore.

    3. Canter to achieve more activity.

    4. Many transitions within the gaits and in lateral exercises.

    5. Renew activity – example, medium to collected to medium.

    6. Look where you want to go.

    7. Clean simple aids and repetition.

    I am still excited about the seminar.  Learning so many great exercises and new ideas is wonderful.  I continually refer to the extensive notes that I took during the conference.

    In addition to attending the MSEDA Trainers Conference, I went to the USDF Certified Trainers Symposium with featured speaker Shelley Francis. (Shelley and her horse, Doktor were the alternates for the United States in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio).

    Shelley gave an overview of her training philosophy.  I loved her simple and quite approach, while maintaining the utmost attention to detail.  We viewed her instructing to several of her students. She also gave a fabulous demonstration on her Grand Prix horse, Danilo.

    Fortunately Shelley made room for me to take several weekly lessons the entire time I was in Wellington. My 6 year old horse, Endeavor, who is just starting 3rd level greatly benefited from Shelley’s patient training methods.  Shelley really helped with his overly enthusiastic Flying Changes.

    My students benefit every day from the new exercises I learned, my better eye on the ground and the enthusiasm I attained while in Florida.  I appreciate the financial help from MSEDA very much!  Florida 2016 was such a wonderful experience.

    Thank you for your sponsorship!

    Susan L. Harris

  • 09/27/2016 8:19 AM | Deleted user

    By Sarah E Coleman

    This year’s MSEDA at the Park was held on September 9 and 10. Though the show was a bit smaller as many riders has just returned from the American Eventing Championships in Tryon, N.C., and it ran between some United States Dressage Federation Regional Championships.

    A total of seven USDF teams competed, with five adult teams and two youth teams.  The results can be found here: http://showsecretary.com/rs.asp?Show_ID=602

    The 2017 show dates are September 8-10 at the Kentucky Horse Park. There will be both USDF Youth and Adult team competition once again.

    We would love your feedback on the competition!

    We look forward to seeing you in 2017!

  • 09/21/2016 9:10 AM | Deleted user

    While choking in humans can be a very violent, noisy affair, choke in horses can present in a very different way.

    By Sarah E Coleman

    What horses are at risk?

    The main cause of choke in horses is a lump of poorly chewed food, though horses can choke on non-food items, as well. These objects are typically rocks or some other item a horse samples, or could be wood if a horse is a cribber.

     Horses that bolt their feed are more at risk for choke than horses that eat more slowly, as they eat as much food as they possibly can as quickly as possible. Additionally, older horses that have bad (or no) teeth are also at higher risk for choke as they have a harder time chewing their food properly.

    Horses that eat specific types of feed can also be predisposed to choke: pelleted feeds, in particular, can cause a horse to choke as they are compressed during the processing of the feed, then expand when exposed to moisture, like saliva. 

    How to diagnose choke

    While not all chokes present the same way, some indications that your horse may be choking include:

    • Standing with his neck held straight out and down
    • Repeatedly trying to swallow (the horse might seem like he is gagging)
    • Drooling
    • Saliva and/or food or grass coming out of the horse’s nose
    • Coughing

    How choke is handled

    No matter what, choke is a veterinary emergency. While you’re waiting for your vet, if you’re comfortable doing so, you can sedate your horse to try to get him to relax. Sometimes the sedation alone will allow your horse to relax enough that the mass will pass. Once your vet arrives, she will administer anti-spasmodic medicine to try to get his esophageal muscles to relax. If this does not work, she will pass a tube through your horse’s nose until it hits the obstruction. She will them pour warm water into the tube and empty it repeatedly as she tries to gently push down the mass. The goal is to soften the mass with enough liquid to allow it to pass into the stomach. If your vet is unable to get the mass to pass manually, your horse may need surgical removal of the obstruction.

    Once your vet gets the mass to pass, which may take quite a bit of time, you will most likely be advised to not let the horse eat for 24 hours. This time allows the throat to rest and begin healing from the trauma of the lodged mass. Once your horse can eat again, he will most likely need to eat food that has been softened with water before transitioning back to dry food in a few days.

    Your vet will administer pain medications to your horse to alleviate the inflammation from where your horse had the obstruction. Choking horses are also at risk of developing pneumonia, so your vet may opt to place your horse on a round of broad-spectrum antibiotics. 

    Reasons why horses choke

    Horses can choke for a variety of reasons, but some of the most common are:
    • Anxious about grain meals (there are also many causes of this, but it could be related to having had food withheld from him in the past, being low in the pecking order, etc.)
    • Not enough saliva
    • Poor dentition
    • Complications from EPM (where muscles surrounding the larynx may not work as well and allow food to get trapped
    • Injury to the esophagus (either from trauma or a tumor)

    How to prevent choke

    There are certain things that can be done to prevent choke. These include:

    • Getting your horse’s teeth checks at least twice a year, more if he is older or having issues
    • Feeding a non-pelletized feed
    • Using a slow feeder for grain meals or drop some large, smooth stones in his bucket if he bolts his feed
    • Adding water to his meals to make them more moist
    • Feeding more grain meals so he is not as anxious to bolt feed
    • Feeding hay first so he is not as hungry when his grain comes
    • Separating him to eat if he is fed in a herd and bolts his feed
    • Having water available to him when he eats grain meals

  • 08/30/2016 11:32 AM | Deleted user

    By Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS 

    The Mid-South Eventing and Dressage Association welcomed Missy Ransehousen on August 21-22nd at Masterson Station Park in Lexington, Kentucky.  Missy has made her own mark on the equestrian world through her chosen sport of eventing. Many would view her to have an obvious advantage of growing up with an Olympic legend (her mother, Jessica), but proving herself in this sport has been based on hard work & dedication. When you grow up in the shadow of a three-time Olympian, you work hard, develop your own style, and choose what you love the most:  coaching & eventing!

    Photo by Erica SpradlingPhoto by Erica Spradling

    Saturday's Dressage Lessons

    Day one began with individual dressage lessons at the Dressage Complex under cloudy and sometimes rainy skies.  Tiffany Smith and the lovely bay gelding Indigenous Gent (currently competing at the preliminary level) took to the sandbox first.  Missy and Tiffany joked about her horse “assuming the position” in dressage, so they took to challenging him to take his frame outside of his comfort zone.  After a brief warm-up, Missy instructed Tiffany to canter a 20-meter circle in the center of the ring, working on stretching the horse’s head and neck downwards.  Keeping him supple through his jaw will his body to follow suit.  “This horse doesn’t need to be low in his frame but should be through,” Missy said.  

    Photo by Kristen Janicki

    Then, staying on the circle in that downwards stretch, Tiffany worked on bending him to the outside for several strides, allowing him to straighten and then bending to the inside.  By straightening her upper body, Tiffany brought Indy’s head and neck up.  “If, when you lift, he starts bracing, bring his head and neck back down and ask again,” Missy explained.  She encouraged Tiffany to keep the canter swinging, and, if it starts to feel up and down, push forward for a bigger stride.  

    Tiffany Smith. Photo by Kristen Janicki

    Tiffany also admitted that riding the corners are a challenge for her, so Missy reminded her to keep her eyes and chest up to prevent the upper body from tipping forward in the corners.  Instead of using her inside lower leg to support and bend the horse’s body, Tiffany should close her inside thigh with steady lower leg contact.  

    Beginner novice level riders, like Claire Mulhollem and Anastacia Curwood, worked to create a steady rhythm throughout the three gaits.  At the trot, Missy had them work off the rail and leg yield over on the long side, using their legs and body to move the horse rather than directing with the reins. 

    Anastasia Curwood. Photo by Kristen Janicki 

    To improve your horse’s walk, Missy suggests stretching your leg downwards and be conscious of your position in the saddle, sitting tall.  If you are wearing spurs, turn your toe outwards keeping your legs long rather than shortening your lower leg position.  Riders should “feel your horse’s hind legs stepping underneath them,” Missy said.

    Sunday’s Stadium Jumping 

    Beginner Novice

    Beginner Novice group, consisting of Sharon Anthony and Claire Mulhollem, worked on creating a steady rhythm to the fences either at a trot or canter and keeping the same rhythm throughout their courses.  For Sharon, Missy wanted her to think about keeping her eyes and chest up with her weight in her heels.  This helped to create better balance over the fence itself.

    Photo by Erica Spradling

    Claire’s big mare tends to get very enthusiastic about jumping and the key element to controlling that energy included maintaining a steadier canter to the fences.  Staying centered to the fence, especially off of a turn, requires preparation.  Making sure the horse remained on the aids helped Claire prepare for the fence ahead. 

    Photo by Erica Spradling


    Martha Lambert. Photo by Erica Spradling

    Hannah Hubsch and Martha Lambert were up next aboard their mismatched mounts, a tall Thoroughbred and Connemara pony.  For Martha, Missy concentrated on keeping the connection and hind legs moving.  Keeping the horse on the aids and maintaining connection helps the horse balance his body.  If the horse loses balance in the turns, “finesse the reins and use a half halt,” Missy said.

    Hannah Hubsch. Photo by Erica Spradling

    Missy really challenged Hannah’s position over fences, having her shift her hips more underneath her and forward.  “That way, as you jump, you don’t have to move as much with your body,” she said.

    With her tall and lean mount, Missy told Hannah “don’t get in a hurry to get to the jump with a big horse,” especially one with a lot of scope.  Keep the rhythm of the stride you want and close your leg rather than using your upper body to meet a distance.


    It was all about pace and energy for Bridgette Aickelin’s big grey gelding who would rather poke his way around the course.  Missy worked on getting Bridgette to use more power while maintaining the same ground-covering stride, resulting in a steadier smoother round and scopier jumps.

    With Megan Lynn, Missy emphasized her position to help Biggin’s jump.  “Don’t throw your shoulders forward, he has to jump up to you”.  Maintaining a firm lower leg in the last stride to the fence helped to keep the stride moving forward.  

    Photo credits:  Kristen Janicki (Saturday), Erica Spradling (Sunday).

    MSEDA would like to thank Missy Rasehousen for sharing her eventing expertise with all of the horses and riders.  

    For more information about MSEDA, go to www.mseda.org

  • 08/16/2016 8:15 PM | Deleted user

    Weed control in pastures can seem futile, especially if you have limited space and resources, but proper pasture management is key to making sure your horse’s get the most nutrition from turnout.

    By Sarah E Coleman

    We all know that horses can be picky eaters, so it behooves farm managers and owners to eliminate as many weeds as possible in their fields. While it may not be possible to eliminate every weed single weed, in reality you may not want to: some weedy plants provide horse’s with nutrients, as odd as that may seem. In Kentucky, some of the most common non-palatable weeds include curly dock and tall ironweed, but crab grass is readily eaten by most horses.

    Thankfully, most horses will not eat poisonous plants unless there is no other forage option available. Here in Kentucky, the most poisonous to horses are horsechestnut, red maple, wild black cherry, Japanese yew, mountain laurel and rhododendron.

    Weeds are tough buggers: they tend to be more aggressive than grasses and other desired forages, competing with them for water, light and soil nutrients. If nothing is done to stop them, weeds tend to win and take over entire fields.

    Ways to Win the Weed War

    The way you manage your fields will have a major impact on the presence (or lack thereof) of weeds. While it may not be possible to incorporate every weed control strategy, the goal is to incorporate some practices that promote the growth of desired plants instead of weeds, which thrive on low soil fertility levels.

    To maintain fields well, you need to use some of the following strategies:

    • Use controlled grazing practices
    • Maintain proper soil pH and fertility levels
    • Mow at the proper time of year and for the stage of maturity of the weeds and forage
    • Renovate pastures as needed
    • Allow new plants to become established before turning out horses on the fields
    • Apply herbicides

    Typically an effective program will need to incorporate a few of these strategies.

    Overgrazing is typically the most-probable cause of weedy pastures, but if you have only one pasture or your field is small, consider sectioning off portion of the field using electric fencing tape that is easy to move. While this may not be possible on every farm, keeping horses off of parts of the pasture to allow the grass to grow is one of the best ways to improve pasture quality.

    Now is the time to seed (just be sure that the seed tag tells you how pure the seed is you are applying!)! Seeding in late summer or early fall will let the crop get established and compete with weeds like yellow foxtail and crabgrass that will come on in the spring; a spring seeding will have to compete with these weeds. However, weeds like chickweed will compete with the grass seed in the fall. There is no time of year where you can seed that will 100 percent guarantee that your seed will take, sadly.

    It may be most beneficial to apply grass seed in late summer or early fall and then seed legumes the next spring. Application of seed in this manner would allow you to apply a broadleaf herbicide in the spring before seeding the legume species if you wanted to.

    You should test your soil before applying any herbicide or seeding so you know if any additional steps will be necessary to give your seed the best shot at surviving. Knowing your soil’s pH and nutrient levels will help you judge whether or not you should add lime or fertilizer first. The addition of lime or fertilizer alone will not usually help control weeds—in fact, some weeds respond well to lime application in the field—exactly what you DON’T want!

    Herbicides can be used on fields, but to just apply them willy-nilly will do no good. If the forage in the herbicide-treated field is not strong enough (and actively growing), new weeds will begin to grow in the bare areas where the older weeds died. 

    Know When to Mow

    Mowing can help control weed growth, but it is mainly effective in preventing and reducing seed production—which means you need to mow when weeds are growing, but before flowers or grass seed heads come on. Fields mowed after weed seeds become mature don’t prevent future weed development. In fact, some weeds grow better once they have been clipped (cocklebur)!

    Mowing should be done when weeds are about 12 to 18 inches tall. Best results come when the vegetation is mowed as close to the ground as possible. It’s even more important to mow pastures that have been selectively grazed by horses as this will help reduce or prevent seed production of the plants that were not eaten.

    Not all weeds are inhibited by mowing, however. Dandelions and crabgrass, for example, tend to be more prevalent in pasture that are mowed frequently; however horsenettle and johnsongrass can be suppressed by repeated mowing (pick you poison, eh?).

    Should You Use an Herbicide?

    The type of herbicide you use on your field will be largely be determined by what weeds are present, but that is not the sole deciding factor as to whether or not using an herbicide on your farm is necessary.

    Other things that should be considered are:

    • Stage of weed growth
    • Amount of weeds present
    • Temperature and rainfall
    • Time of year
    • Cost
    • Waiting period after treatment necessary before horses can be returned to the field

    If you determined that your farm is a candidate for herbicide application, a good general rule of thumb is to keep horses off treated fields for 7 to 14 days, though some herbicides state that they have a zero day waiting period

    County extension agents are some of the most underutilized tools for horse owners and farm managers. If you have questions on your pasture and its management, it can be helpful to contact your local agent for help.

    Find the agent for your county here.

    For more info on herbicides, click here.

  • 08/16/2016 8:08 PM | Deleted user

    By Sarah E Coleman

    By now, everyone in the state of Kentucky has heard of the equine neglect case involving Chuck Borell and his daughter Maria, a Breeder’s Cup-winning trainer, who, as of early August, had a warrant out for her arrest. With 43 counts of second-degree animal cruelty against her, she has not yet been served, as she has not returned to Kentucky.

    There were 43 horses involved in the case on the 121-acre farm in Mercer County; 28 of the horses in the best physical shape were left on the farm. Eight horses were moved to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Blackburn Correctional Facility and several others that were not Thoroughbreds were taken in by the Kentucky Horse Park (but are not on Park grounds). Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farms took in two Thoroughbreds.

    Though the horses are now being taken care of, those passionate about equine welfare felt that it took much too long for the horse’s health to become a priority. Adding to the confusion, it was clear before the horses were moved to the Mercer County farm that they were being neglected—so how did 43 horses slip through the cracks?

    Why Did it Take So Long to get Anything Done?

    While many people were unhappy with the how long it took for the horses to receive care, the state had to play by the rules—which, like most animal welfare laws in the state, seem to be subpar.

    Trainer Ken Summerville, who used to keep horses with Borell before losing them in a legal dispute, stopped at the farm in Mercer County in hopes of seeing his old horses. What he found was overwhelming; the horses were in poor condition and a volunteer at the farm let him know that neither Borell had been to the farm in weeks.

    Summerville alerted the local sheriff, Ernie Kelty, and waiting for the sheriff to begin to investigate the case. That step alone took weeks, though they did provide the horses on the farm with a limited supply of hay. Once Summerville called again, saying that the horses were now in dire straits, and when the press got ahold of the story, things began to move.

    The state veterinarian in Kentucky, Rusty Ford, became the point person in the case. The first that had to be tackled before anything else could be done was discovering just who WERE the horses on the farm? As they were having no luck reaching either Borell, the onus fell on the state to determine who each horse was who was on the farm.

    Thankfully, The Jockey Club stepped in to help determine who the Thoroughbreds were. DNA samples were taken for every horse on the Mercer County farm and The Jockey Club has worked diligently on identifying the horses. Work was also done to not only identify the horses, but their owners, as well.

    In some cases, however, the horses had not been registered, so there was no way to locate an owner. So what happens to these horses? 

    What Happens to These Horses?

    Previously, in Kentucky, any horse that was a “stray” had to be held for 90 days before anything could be done with it (given away, sold, etc). This means that if a horse was abandoned at a boarding barn, the barn owner had to feed and care for the horse for at least 90 days before he or she was allowed to take possession of the animal; from there they could do with it as they wished.

    Thankfully, in 2015, this stray hold period was cut from 90 days to 15 days—a huge boost for those working to save horses from dangerous situations. This law, while helpful for potentially cash-strapped communities without the resources to care for stray horses, also is helpful to farm owners who must care for a horse for a shorter period of time before trying to recoup some of their losses.

    The horses involved in the Borell case are now listed on the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s website on the “Stray or Abandoned Horses” page. This page is searchable by both county and breed; every effort is being made to locate the owners of the horses that are not registered.

    Why Didn't More Thoroughbred Entities Step Up?

    While it would seem like a logical choice for Thoroughbred aftercare organizations to rally around the horses abandoned on the Mercer County farm, it’s not that simple. Very few Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance-(TAA) accredited organizations could provide shelter to the Mercer County horses because of the way the organizations operate: To take in a horse, the horse must transfer ownership to the accredited organization; the organizations are not entities that provide foster care. Transfer of ownership was not an option in the Borell case as it was still under investigation; horses rightfully owned by someone could not be given away without the proper protocol having been followed.

     But the equine industry didn’t let the case go unnoticed. They quickly rallied, with multiple veterinarians and shipping companies offering aid; donations rolled in to local feed companies and volunteers willingly gave up hours upon hours to care for the horses at the farm. 

    So What Happens Now?

    While the horses in this care are gaining weight and being cared for, their owners are still sought. While things seemed to move slowly in this case, it has shed light on some of the inadequacies in the equine welfare system, and things are in the works to change them and strengthen equine welfare laws.

    The Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Council unanimously approved a motion to examine changes to animal welfare laws. The council is chaired by Ford, who has first-hand knowledge of how poorly the system has worked in this case in particular. It is hoped that Kentucky laws will be clarified so that officials might take control of abandoned horses more easily. As a comparison, law enforcement officials are able to more-easily take possession of smaller animals like dogs and cats.

    Also suggested for additional changes are increased sanctions for those who have committed crimes as well as a possible emergency fund safety net for horses that are in dire situations. 

  • 08/05/2016 8:17 AM | Deleted user

    By Excel Equine Feeds

    One of the issues that I hear often from horse owners is that they have trouble keeping weight on one or two horses in the barn.  Most barn managers have had to deal with the finicky eater or hard keeper at least a few times in their lives.  Sometimes horses start to lose weight from being introduced to a more demanding training schedule, stress, bad health care, or they are just picky eaters.  Whatever the reason, there are steps that you can take to get your horse on the right track towards achieving a healthy body condition.

    First, make sure you rule out underlying issues that could be keeping your horse from gaining weight.  Poor teeth are a common problem in older horses.  Make sure you are getting your horses’ teeth floated once or twice a year and always do a check yourself to make sure there are not any sharp points on their teeth if you are suspicious that they are experiencing mouth pain.  Also, your worming program needs to be up to date.  Make sure you are giving your horses a wormer that your veterinarian recommends.  This could change based on everyone’s different geographical locations.  Aside from teeth and worming…one of the biggest health issues that could hinder weight gain is ulcers.

    Ulcers will cause the horse to have a lack of appetite and be ill tempered due to pain.  This happens more commonly with horses kept in stalls that do not have access to walking around on pasture and grazing for at least a portion of the day.  It is also prevalent in competition horses that experience stress from travel and competing at a high level.

     Make sure that if your horse acts like he or she might have ulcers, to consult your veterinarian and get them on medication to alleviate this.

    Also, free choice hay helps greatly with ulcers, and should really be a management practice already in place for all of your horses.  The horse naturally needs consistent fiber going through its digestive system to buffer the gut.  Horses produce acid in the stomach all the time, not just when they eat.  So when their stomach is empty, acid is still present and can cause ulcers if there is not roughage running through digestive system.

    So after you have checked into underlying health and management issues and your horses still isn’t gaining weight what can you do?  First, Make sure they have access to fee choice forage.  Also, you can start to add some alfalfa to their forage to increase their caloric intake from a safe source.  Adding Alfalfa will increase their protein intake, which will help with building muscle, and will increase their calorie intake, as it is more energy dense than grass hay.  If a horse will not clean up all of its hay, introducing hay cubes can sometimes work.  Alfalfa is also very palatable, so if you have a picky eater, usually they will take to Alfalfa pretty well.

    The last part of adjusting a feeding program is if all of the above mentioned methods do not provide results, start looking into the concentrates being fed.  When selecting a grain, make sure to look for a higher fat product (between 6-10%).  Fat allows for you to add calories without too much volume, which is important for the horse.  Their stomach is small compared to the rest of their digestive system, so food passes through there very quickly.  You do not want the large intestine to get overloaded with undigested starch, because this is what often leads to colic and laminitis.  So by feeding something higher in fat, you lessen the risk of overload because you do not have to feed as much.

     It is like choosing a small handful of nuts over a bowl of cereal…you might be getting the same calories, but in a much different amount!

    Adding fat can be in the form of purchasing a higher fat feed or adding rice bran or oil to your horse’s ration.  Remember to add all changes to a horse’s diet slowly as to not upset the microbes in large intestine.  Another good point about feeding added fat is that it often provides a slow burn type of energy that does not cause extra excitability…it can actually improve behavior instead!

    Whether you are dealing with a health issue or simply a hard keeper, following these tips and guidelines will help in achieving the desired weight gain. At the end of the day, weight gain is about calorie intake.

     We as horse owners just have to figure out how to get those calories back into your horse and why they might not be enough at the current rate being given.  Make sure to also utilize your feed company’s equine nutritionist and you should be on your way to having a happy and healthy animal that is at a good weight and thriving.

  • 07/28/2016 12:20 PM | Deleted user

    Taking place on Oct. 19 at the Kentucky Horse Park, the Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event and Team Challenge offers a unique format for MSEDA member competitors: the opportunity to ride on a team. Teams are available at the following levels: Beginner Novice, Novice, Training and Preliminary.

    Riders interested in riding on a MSEDA team should email Martha Lambert at landsendfarm@hotmail.com and ask to be placed on a team. If the team is not full, they are added to the team roster.

    Riders will need to send in their entry and fee (on opening day, by mail) to the show secretary—but the check for their entry fee should be made out for $100 less than the traditional price, as MSEDA will “sponsor” the team.

    All MSEDA-sponsored team members get an embroidered ear bonnet and saddle pad.

    This is a great way to ride in a team environment and for MSEDA to give back to their members!

  • 07/25/2016 12:32 PM | Deleted user

    While many people think those of us who are horse-obsessed are crazy to ride when it’s so blessedly hot outside, we all know better: the horse world doesn’t stop, whether for heat, rain, cold or wind (or anything in between!). Though riding through August in the Bluegrass can bring its own set of challenges, whether it’s hydration, proper clothing or finding time during the coolest part of the day to ride, we wouldn’t change it for the world.

    By Sarah E Coleman

    Not all riders have the ability to ride before work before the heat really comes on, whether because of unusual work hours, the distance to the farm or because the farm amenities don’t support riding while it’s dark outside. If you’re forced to ride during the heat of the day, there are some precautions you can take to get the most out of every ride—even if it’s brutally hot outside.

    One thing to note, however, is that there are going to be some days that are truly too hot to ride. While none of us like to lose training days, it’s more important that both you and your horse stay safe. Heat stroke—horse and human--is no joke and can have dire consequences.

    The National Weather Service says that a heat indices of 102-124 degrees F are “dangerous”--so you should begin to contemplate not riding at all. If the heat index is 125 degrees F or higher, you shouldn’t ride at all, as both you and your horse become at risk for heat stroke, which is where the body loses the ability to regulate its temperature because of excessive heat.

    Keeping Your Cool

    So if you’re in the “safe” temperature zone to ride, but it’s still uncomfortably hot, consider these tricks to make your hack a bit more comfortable.

    • Hack in the woods. It can be up to 20 degrees cooler in the shade, so consider taking your horse out of the ring to walk on shady trails. A long hack, or one that involves hills, can make your horse exert himself physically, making him use his back and hind end, while not having the sun beating down on him.

    • Consider investing in clothing that’s made of technical fabrics. While it can seem silly at first to spend in upwards of $60 on a shirt you will get filthy at the farm, there really is something to be said about the wicking properties of the fabrics. More breathable than cotton, they can help keep you cooler; shirts with mesh under the arms also increase airflow. And don’t think you have to buy these shirts at a tack shop—Dicks, Target and even Wal-Mart usually have some clothing options in their athletic wear sections (might be a good excuse to check out the new outlet shops!).

    • Wear loose-fitting clothes and consider dampening your shirt before you get on if you’re not ready to take the splurge on a technical riding shirt. While this might not necessarily appropriate for group lessons, if you generally ride by yourself, wetting your shirt before you get on can be a lifesaver. And really, no one will know after about 10 minutes if your shirt is wet from water or sweat!

    • Investing in cooling vests and bandanas is also an option, though they, too, will wet the shirt you’re wearing. While helpful, they may warm up before you ride is over if you’re hacking for a longer period of time.

    • Purchase smaller summer wardrobe upgrades. While new, lighter-weight breeches may not be in your budget right this second, you can purchase breathable summer socks and even lighter-weight gloves to help get you through the dog days of summer.

    • Consider a vented helmet, if you’re in the market to buy a new one. While traditional black velvet caps are always in style, you’ll be amazed at how much cooler your head is if you wear a vented variety. If a new helmet isn’t in your budget, contemplate purchasing a helmet visor to keep the sun from beating on your face and chest.

    • Wearing lighter-colored clothing can help keep you at least a few degrees cooler, so be a bit picky about what you wear to the barn for a ride.

    • Take water to the arena with you and be sure to sip it while you take walk breaks. While many sports drinks tout their hydrating properties, some of them are so sugary as to make you feel sick if you guzzle it while overly hot. Cut these drinks with straight water or a flavored water to dilute some of the sweetness.

    • Consider adding fruit to your barn diet if you can’t seem to drink enough water. Watermelons, peaches and even cucumbers will help you stay hydrated during hot days.

    • Turn on the sprinkler system in your arena while you ride, if your horse is quiet. It’s sure to make you feel like a kid again!

    • Place a personal misting fan near your water and use it when you take walk and water breaks. These tiny-but-mighty tools may also help your steed stay cool.

    • Place a bucket full of cold water and old towels on the side of the arena. Pull one out (don’t wring it out) and place it over your horses neck as he takes a breather. Swipe of the excess water with your hand before you go back to work.

    While there are many options to help keep your cool, there’s bound to be some days where it’s just too hot to ride. Chilling out in front of a fan with your horse isn’t a wasted day—it’s simply more time for you to bond.

  • 07/14/2016 7:56 AM | Deleted user

    It can seem a bit daunting to ride under a Big Name Trainer whom you don’t know, but clinics are wonderful ways to get a new set of eyes on your riding and add additional insight into ways to make your horse even better. 

    By Sarah E Coleman

    We all have equestrian idols, those we admire for their partnership with their horse, the way they get the job done and even the grace with which they accept a less-than-stellar outcome at a horse show or event.

    Lucky for us, many of these equestrian superstars offer clinics as a way to supplement their training and riding income and as a way to give back to the equestrian community. If you’ve never given a second thought to riding in a clinic, now is the time to rethink your decision.

    Erin Strader

    Erin Strader, Barn Manager and Trainer for the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center, tries to attend between two and three clinics a year, depending on what her work schedule will allow. She finds clinics helpful as they can help her refresh her riding and look at how her horse goes differently. “They allow me to get a lot of quality instruction in a short amount of time,” she adds. Erin currently has a 5-year-old Irish Sport Horse she got in the fall of 2015 who is ready to move up to Novice.

    Though many clinics are typically in a one- or two-day format, Erin prefers the two-day format as she feels that the first day is more of an evaluation period for each horse and rider combination. By the second day, the instructor can really hone in on some key areas that need improvement, she notes.

    To prepare for a clinic, Erin ensures that both she and her horse are fit and ready for any jumping or galloping that is asked of them. She also makes sure that her horse is fit to jump the height at which she is entered. She goes into the clinic with a good idea of where the horse will be headed in competition and what specific things she needs to work on. Erin recommends that it’s best to bring up and concerns or issues with your horse at the beginning of the clinic, so the clinician has an idea of what troubles you have been facing and how you have been dealing with them at home.

    And don’t think the learning stops when you step off your horse. To get the most from her clinics, Erin tries to bring a notebook with her to jot down phrases and explanations while auditing other lesson groups. “I also try to write a recap of my own lessons at the end of each day, specifically noting what did and did not work for me and my horse. I will also draw diagrams of any jump grids/courses with distances so that I can recreate them at home.”

    No matter with whom you decide to clinic, “you can always find at least one takeaway from a clinic, and if nothing else, it gets you and your horse off the farm and used to riding in front of other people in a new place!” Erin says.

    Jody Cattell

    Jody Cattell clinic between two and four times a year for a few reasons: “It is one of the only ways I hasve of getting comprehensive cross-country instruction,” she notes. Jody lives in Columbus, Ohio, where event barns are virtually non-existent. “I am usually the only eventer where I board and/or take lessons, so clinics are one way of meeting other event riders--I know more event riders in Michigan than any other state because I’ve attended so many clinics over the years at Hunters Run in Metamora!” she says.

    In addition to the camaraderie, Jody appreciates that clinics are typically relaxing environments; there are “no boots to polish or coats to wear. Often there is a group dinner, which is a good opportunity to ask the clinician questions about conditioning, bits, favorite boots, etc.  Plus, they usually have interesting stories to tell,” she explains.

    Like Erin, Jody appreciates riding under a different set of eyes. “However, they may say things a little differently that brings on the ‘aha’ moment or have a helpful exercise you have never tried before.” She, too, will address any issues she and her horse are experiencing with the clinician beforehand if the clinician is interested in tailoring the lesson for them specifically. Jody has cliniced with Leslie Law, Kim Severson, Kyle Carter, Doug Payne, and Buck Davidson, as well as Cathy Wieschhoff, Diana Rich and Robin Walker.

    Jody has this advice for people who are looking to clinic:

    •  Ask around about the instructor. If you are a beginner novice rider, ask if this person is appropriate choice.  There are some clinicians who have more patience than others. If you have not participated in an event (recognized or unrecognized), you might be better off putting your money toward regular lessons instead of one shot with someone whom you may never see again.
    • Even if you are an experienced rider, you need to know the instructor’s idea of the appropriate degree of difficulty at each level.  For example, when I was thinking about moving up to Preliminary with my current horse, I still rode with Buck in a Training group, knowing full well that we would be jumping a lot of Preliminary fences. With another trainer, a Preliminary group might be more like a Training group.
    • Find out how many riders are going to be in a group.  To me, four riders or less is ideal.  I won’t ride in a clinic with six riders--the wait time is too long.
    • If possible, find out from the organizer how the groups are going to be arranged. I think this is an important factor that many people, including organizers, overlook. Ask other people if the organizer arranges the groups properly. Many years ago, I took a clinic from Jimmy Wofford at Training level. No one in my group had ever gone Training. Only one participant had ever been to a recognized event (at Novice). We spent the day jumping 18-inch logs! It’s even worse if you are over faced in clinic--chances are that both you and your horse will lose confidence.

    Jody also recommends watching the sessions both before and after yours while you’re at the clinic. The “sessions before yours will help you understand the exercises and what the instructor is looking for. The sessions following your ride will solidify what you learned,” she notes. Jody, also, makes notes as soon as she can to help remember what she has learned.

    To make the session enjoyable for others as well, Jody suggest that those riding in a clinic “ask questions, but be careful and be considerate. Don’t ask every question that pops into your head and don’t interrupt the flowing of the session with questions.” 

    Clinics are great ways to ride your horse under a new set of eyes, meet new friends and gain new tools for your riding toolbox. 

Midsouth Eventing & Dressage Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

MSEDA’s mission is to promote and preserve the sports of Eventing and Dressage in the Mid-South area, by providing leadership and education to its members and the community at large. To further these goals, MSEDA will provide educational opportunities, fair and safe competitions, promote the welfare of the horse and rider and reward the pursuit of excellence from the grass roots to the FEI level.

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