Mid-South Eventing & Dressage Association


  • 06/28/2019 10:36 AM | Anthony Trollope (Administrator)

    Volunteerism has long been a core tenet of the USEA and the new Volunteer Incentive Program makes recording hours even easier.

    by Sarah E. Coleman

    Launched in 2015, The United States Eventing Association’s Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP) was the brainchild of the late Seema Soonad. A tireless advocate for better recognition and education of volunteers, her legacy lives on through the VIP program, explains Claire Kelley, marketing coordinator for USEA.

    The program, presented by Sunsprite Warmbloods, aims to increase the ease of participation in events, provide incentives and recognize the efforts of volunteers, Claire explains. “Without the work of volunteers, USEA and the sport of three-day eventing wouldn’t exist.”

    In 2017, the online management portal, eventingvolunteers.com, became available for download. The app is very used friendly, and creator Nicolas Hinze is available to help with any questions or concerns, Claire notes. “The Volunteer Committee is one of the hardest working committees of the USEA and is continuously thinking of new ideas to build and improve the program.”

    The perks of volunteering with USEA are many; not only is hard work recognized on both a national and regional level, volunteers make connections with others at the event and have the freedom to choose their positions through the VIP app. An added perk for eventing newbies or for those returning to the discipline after a hiatus is the ability to learn more about the sport and become completely immersed in the ins and outs of competition.

    By the Numbers

    In 2018, a total of 30,521 volunteer hours were recorded. The 2018 USEA Volunteer of the Year, Vicki Reynolds, had an impressive total of 330 hours and 35 minutes by herself. As the winner of the USEA Volunteer of the Year, Vicki received a cash prize of $1,000, a custom “USEA Volunteer of the Year” embroidered jacket and a memorial trophy. The Top Ten volunteers on the Volunteer Incentive Program Leaderboard receive a certificate of acknowledgment and a ribbon at the end of each competition year. Area awards are also strongly encouraged, but are decided by each area representative.

    Eventingvolunteers.com has created a “USEA VIP All Time Leaderboard” and since Dec. 1, 2016, eventingvolunteers.com has recorded 54,253 volunteer hours and 3,103 volunteers. The top three on the “USEA VIP All Time leaderboard” as of March 13, 2019, were:

    • Michael Smallwood with 543 hours and 18 minutes
    • Diane Bird with 428 hours and 2 minutes
    • Art Bird with 383 hours and 42 minutes




  • 06/28/2019 10:31 AM | Anthony Trollope (Administrator)

    The internet has revolutionized more than just the business world; it’s made our ability to play much easier, as well.

    by Sarah E. Coleman

    Years ago, when everyone said eventually the Internet would revolutionize our lives, it was easy to scoff. I mean really—who actually thought we would be able to look up equine ailments immediately (including pictures!), get opinions from horse people across the country or chat with specialists literally half a world away? Very few people truly imagined the world that would be opened to equine enthusiasts when the World Wide Web first came about.

    The internet has revolutionized just about everything to do with equine ownership: X-rays can be sent immediately for second opinions; updated association standings no longer needs to postal mailed to all organization members; and entry to horse shows, events and clinics has never been easier.


    Mary Fike, owner of Harrington Mill Farm and organizer of a plethora of events, including Spring Bay, Kentucky Classique, the 2019 and 2020 American Eventing Championships and others, has been hosting and coordinating equine events for decades. While online entries my be easier for the masses, they still have their own challenges. “They [online entries] have made some parts of show management easier in that you can transcribe data easily and the credit card feature helps that there aren’t so many checks to record, endorse and deposit,” Mary says. “But, with electronic entry comes the problem of outdated competitor information. People forget to update their profiles when they would provide current info on handwritten entries, so the competitions have to spend a good bit of time verifying records when it doesn’t match.”

    Though some people are still insistent that they received hard-copy organization-related information, most equestrians have embraced the online revolution. But was it hard for some riders to learn how to enter events online? “I don’t think so,” says Mary; she got no pushback when she began offering online entries. It helps when people are forced to change or potentially be left behind. Though the events Mary runs do still offer postal entries, the majority of people now enter online. “Sometimes the special event terminology gets people, but it seems to work out. I guess if you can order something on Amazon, you can enter a competition online!” Mary says. An added bonus? “We can always read the handwriting!”

    Though results had been submitted digitally for years to sanctioning organizations, digital entries weren’t mainstream until about a decade ago, when EventEntries and XEntry went live.

    And these online entry platforms are not without their own potential perils, including poor internet connections at show venues or user error. Mary has had a few hiccups during her use of online entries, but most occur when a rider doesn’t understand the nuances of the entry program. For example, some platforms always default to the Open Divisions unless a rider specifies in which division they want to compete.

    Practice with the platform, and accessibility to IT, has ensured that the competitions flow smoothly. 

    Additional perks of online programs? Stalls, campsites, extra fees and anything else a show manager wants designated can be, making prices much clearer and fees much easier to collect.

    And if someone doesn’t have a computer or access to the Internet? “I’ll print out an entry form and mail it to them,” explains Mary. “We’re not allowed to accept entries over the phone or by e-mail message only.”

    And what about the order in which entries are received? How does a rider make sure they aren’t wait-listed? “We use the date-stamp on the online paid entries the same way we use the postmark,” Mary explained. An added bonus? The online platforms keep a waitlist of riders for the show organizer; mass emailing is also not an issue—the entry platform allows for that feature, as well.

    There is one thing Mary wishes online entry programs could do: “Reverse the credit card charges when needed. We still have to do that by check,” she says. But the benefits of an online entry program far outweighs the minor inconveniences. Once scoring data is entered and verified, results are instantaneous. The only thing Mary wishes people would do regarding online entries? Read the fine print. “But isn’t that the same with almost everything?”


  • 01/25/2019 2:04 PM | Anthony Trollope (Administrator)

    A board of directors is only as strong as the members who comprise it; MSEDA has taken on new directors this year, each bringing something unique to the table. This issue will introduce Rachael Rosendaul of Crestwood.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    The owner of Kentucky Tack Exchange in Crestwood, KY, Rachael Rosendaul is new to the MSEDA Board of directors, but no stranger to horses: She has long been immersed in the equine industry both personally (her daughter rides) and professionally. Deeply passionate about engaging junior members in MSEDA, Rachael said when she was first approached about being on the MSEDA board that she laughed—really hard.

    “Honestly I had never considered anything like this before. I’m a nobody in the riding world. My resume doesn’t include equine accomplishments or high-profile jobs. I don’t ride; I’m a mom who happens to own a little shop in a tiny white house in Crestwood,” she explains.

    So what pushed her to accept the nomination and take a seat on the MSEDA board? “I may not be qualified from a resume perspective, but I do have a passion about getting juniors involved in MSEDA,” Rachael says. “And I have some ideas to back it up.”

    One of her main concerns: Why so few juniors are MSEDA members. And, “more importantly, why the ones who are MSEDA members don’t complete their volunteer hours to be eligible for prizes.”

    “As parents, we should be teaching our young riders to get involved and help out--especially since so many [parents] do that for them at shows they attend. I am shocked that since Ruth [her daughter] and I have been members, there have been no more than 4 or 5 juniors qualified for prizes at the end of the year. I will change that,” she vows.

    Share the MSEDA Love

    MSEDA is not new to Rachael; she’s attended multiple awards banquets and loves all of it. “It’s fun for me to meet people who I don’t normally get to be with,” she explains of her enjoyment of the evening. “Cathy Wieschhoff was a great emcee for the evening [in 2018]--too funny! Also, I enjoyed the clinic on Sunday. I clearly wasn’t riding, but got to talk to other members as we watched.”

    Rachael takes her role on the MSEDA board seriously. With a daughter who rides competitively, she is no stranger to the show ring and the ins and outs of the competition world. “My desire for MSEDA is to be a great starting point for juniors in their show careers,” she explains. “USEA is important, too, but there are so many kids who may never ride in USEA shows due to funding, proximity to shows, training, transportation, et cetera. MSEDA is a perfect first step for some of them to challenge themselves, as well as earn points for awards they might not be able to receive in USEA.

    “I have so many parents and kids through my shop each week who are frustrated with exactly this problem [the expense of showing],” she notes. “I’m excited to start working on sharing the benefits of MSEDA membership to those who aren’t yet familiar with the organization.”

    Understanding the strain competitive riding can place on family finances, Rachael is looking to make sure equestrians truly understand the benefits of MSEDA membership. “I’m really excited to watch the membership of juniors increase: This is my No. 1 goal,” she says.

    However, she’s personally excited to become more involved with MSEDA as it will deepen her personal equine community as well. “I’m really excited to meet more people in the horse community! My shop, Kentucky Tack Exchange, caters to just about all riding disciplines and I love learning about each.”

    Connecting the Dots

    Rachael’s passion for horse people runs as deeply as her passion for engaging the younger generation. “My husband has stopped asking me how much money I made that day and instead asking who did I get to talk to!” she says. “I find that mostly I connect people within the horse community to instructors, products, barns, shows, et cetera. So the way I see it, the more people I know in the riding community, the better my customers will be!

    Rachael understands that a role on the MSEDA board is not one to be taken lightly and she’s prepared to give it her all. “The commitment of the board of directors for MSEDA is real. These men and women work very hard to produce quality shows and events for riders and their membership,” she explains. “I’ve been so impressed with their dedication and work ethic inside the committees. I hope to be able to work that hard and contribute as they do.”

  • 01/25/2019 1:18 PM | Anthony Trollope (Administrator)

    The horse show world is a small one that becomes even more tightknit as you drill down into the breeds and disciplines. MSEDA is full of kind, generous members, but the efforts that went into helping two junior members attend the Lynn Symansky clinic is nothing short of astounding.

    By Sarah E. Coleman
    Photos: Sweet Shots

     Photo by Sweet Shots  Photo by Sweet Shots

    This past December, two unsuspecting MSEDA Junior members were offered an amazing opportunity: The ability to ride in a clinic with international four-star event rider Lynn Symansky.

    Ruth Rosendaul, 15, and Eleanor “Nora” Brown, 14, were delighted at the thought of auditing the Lynn Symansky clinic at Majestic Farm in Batavia, Ohio. Though one girl couldn’t go because of lack of transportation and the other couldn’t attend because of financial strain, the eventing community made silk out of a sow’s ear when two already-registered horses were unable to attend the clinic: They gifted their spots to the two passionate junior members.

    The Riders Repertoires

    Nora has been riding Stone Place Stables since she was 5; she now rides with Debbie Iezzi. She rides her own horse, Leal, who was purchased by her parents on Dec. 6, 2016. Nora competes at Beginner Novice and will begin competing at Novice in 2019. She’s been riding for almost 9 years and has been competing 6 or 7 of those years, says her mom, Megan.

    Ruth began taking lessons when she was about 7 years old, though she went to pony camp the two years prior. She currently rides Kaloosh with trainer Angela Ariatti out of Simpsonville, KY.

    The story of Ruth and Kaloosh is truly one every horse-crazy kid has dreamed of. “My parents told me for a year we would never own a horse,” says Ruth. “They lied! I got Kaloosh on December 24, 2015. It was their plan all along to buy him as a surprise for me.”

    “Now they say I will never have a second horse … I hope they are lying there, too!” Ruth says with a smile. Kaloosh, an OTTB, was sent to Angela’s to be a lesson horse. Though originally scared to ride him, Ruth got to know—and love—Kaloosh. “We’ve worked very hard for several years. He’s turned out to be a great horse, with a lot of hard work from both of us,” Ruth explains.

    More Surprises in Store

    Ruth has been in the show ring for four years; last year she competed at USPC Championships in Tryon, N.C., and qualified for AECs, but she didn’t attend because of the distance to get to the competition venue. “We currently compete at Training and are having more fun that we should be,” she laughs.

    A perfect candidate for the clinic, Ruth is hungry. Hungry for knowledge, hungry for information and hungry to watch good riders ride. “My mom originally told me about the clinic when we signed up for the MSEDA banquet, and I thought it would be a cool opportunity to watch and learn because we didn’t have a ride for Kaloosh up to Ohio,” she explains. “We don’t own a trailer and have to rely on others for rides. My trainer had just had shoulder surgery and couldn’t help me, but I was happy with the thought of auditing the clinic! Just the chance to meet [Lynn Symansky] after cheering her on at Rolex for years was exciting. Little did I know that my dream of riding with her would actually happen!”

    Ruth’s mom, Rachael Rosendaul, got a call from Julie Congleton a few days before the banquet, saying another rider in the clinic had to scratch because her horse was hurt and that she wanted to gift her entry fee to a junior rider.

    “Julie knew I would be auditing the clinic and asked if we wanted the spot,” Ruth explained. “My mom explained to Julie that we didn’t have a ride for Kaloosh … Julie, my mom and Angela started calling people to see if we could find a ride.”

    An Abscess for One is a Windfall for Another

    From there, the story gets even sweeter. “We were told by Julie Congleton that Martha Lambert was also attending the clinic and may be able to give us a ride. Julie called Martha, but her horse had an abscess and she was now unable to go,” Ruth recounts. “Martha said that she would gift her spot in the clinic if someone could give Kaloosh a ride to Majestic Farm. This made my mom think about a friend of mine who was also planning on auditing the clinic: Nora Brown.”

    And then the rest of the plan simply fell into place. “My mom called Nora’s mom and said if she could drive [she has a trailer] then both of us could go to the clinic! Perfect!!!” Ruth said. “We couldn’t believe how everyone worked together and were so generous to people they didn’t know.” 

    The Takeaways

    Both girls learned so many things at the clinic, they say. “Lynn really taught me how to move my elbows and when I should prepare for the fence,” says Ruth. “Kaloosh and I have been working with this for a while; I was so happy to hear Lynn’s tips and tricks--I can’t wait to use them in the show ring and everyday riding!”

    “The neatest thing at the clinic was Lynn’s ability to talk and teach a wide variety of people at different skill levels and abilities without even knowing us or our horses,” says Nora. “She was so in-tune with everything. It was amazing.”

    Goal Diggers

    Ruth and Nora both have aspirations for their 2019 competition year. “My riding goals for this year include getting more confident at Training,” says Ruth. “We want to achieve better dressage scores by having our tests be more accurate and have him be more supple in the bridle. For showjumping, I want to find a better balance and find our distances at a more open stride. For cross-country, we want to achieve the same goal as stadium, and keep him being confident and having fun as we ride faster over larger obstacles.”

    “My riding goals for this year are to not be so nervous in stadium jumping and trust my horse fully,” says Nora. “He will take care of me!”

    When asked about their favorite part of riding, neither junior member mentioned the ribbons. “I enjoy so much about riding that it’s super-hard to decide what I like best!” said Ruth. “I think my most favorite [part of riding] is having a connection with the horse and the barn friends I have met. Kaloosh … is my best friend and I feel that it makes riding 100 times more fun. Horses need a lot of care--it’s not just about the riding--and I love that part of it, too.”

    “The thing I like most about riding is the freedom I feel,” explains Nora. “I love the wind blowing in my hair and just racing through the open cross-country fields. I’m not very competitive with other people--just myself. I feel the happiest [when I am] at the barn with my horse, just hanging out doing homework or sharing a snack with him.”

    With riders as dedicated as Ruth and Nora, the future of the eventing community is bright. Each girl is deeply thankful for the riders who allowed them to take part in the Lynn Symanksy clinic. Leading by example is not new for MSEDA members, but it was especially powerful on a cold day in December, when two girls were given the opportunity to ride with an idol—which neither will ever forget.

     Photo by Sweet Shots  Photo by Sweet Shots

  • 12/16/2018 9:23 AM | Anthony Trollope (Administrator)

    Holidays are hard—there’s presents to find, buy, wrap and mail; meals to shop for and prepare; travel arrangements to make; cards to buy and address; and so, so much more. It’s important to remember those who care for our horses when our schedules get a bit too wild; because of them, we can skip a day or two at the farm and know our four-legged loves are well cared for and happy.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    Working with horses can seem a thankless job at times—the rain, snow and wind can be relentless in winter, and the heat and humidity brutal in summer months. Whether you board your horse and are looking for a thoughtful way to thank a barn owner and the farm help, or you’re a farm owner looking for a way to show your appreciation for your staff this time of year, a little thought goes a long way. Consider these gifts as a small way to say “thank you” for the care your horse receives.

    • Purchase a prepaid cards to Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or other local coffee shop where they might stop in and get a warm drink before work.

    • Gift cards, whether they’re general Visa cards or to a gas station you know they frequent, are always welcomed, as are cards to stores like Kroger or Wal-Mart. There’s something so nice about not having to pay for life’s necessities like soap or paper towels every so often!

    • If you know their sizes, consider buying warm winter garb like gloves, an Under Amour base layer, wool socks or a TrailHead beanie (that feels more like wearing a ball cap!). Want to splurge a bit more? Winter riding breeches, Carhartts or gift cards to stores like Gander Mountain or Cabela’s are all welcomed holiday treats.

    • Any items engraved with a special horse’s name is heartfelt, whether on a bracelet, keychain or charm. Additionally, saddlepads, hats, bumperstickers, jackets, sweatshirts and more emblazoned with a farm name makes everyone feel like part of a team.

    • If you board at a barn where the barn owner or staff will be feeding Christmas morning, offer to feed and do chores so they might spend a meaningful morning with their family and little ones (as long as this is OK with your family!). A respite from the grind of everyday farm work is appreciated any time, but even more so during the holidays if it garners them more time with family and friends.

    • Give the gift of knowledge. Know someone who’s hungry for more horse info, all the time? Get them a gift to an equestrian magazine, a pass to audit or ride in a local clinic, or include a note that you’ll download some good equine-based podcasts right to their phone.

    • Homemade treats, for both humans and horses, are always welcomed—especially if the receiver has first dibs on whether or not to share!

    • If a bit of pampering is in order, a massage or manicure/pedicure is thoughtful. Even if these services are outside the box for some farm staff, the self-care is necessary, even if they don’t make it a habit.

    • Get other boarders together to offer a larger, farm-centric gift, such as a new farm sign, trailer decals or other, more-expensive gift.

    • Not into monetary gifts? Create a coupon book that offers anything from free tack cleaning to feeding and turnout to clipping and mane pulling.

    No matter what you choose to gift—or not—making a point to thank those who help you with your horsey habit is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Make it a point to show your thankfulness this holiday season.

  • 11/21/2018 11:52 AM | Deleted user

    For many horse owners, trailering a horse is a routine part of equine ownership. However, transporting a live animal shouldn’t be taken lightly. While some precautions aren’t necessary for short trips, they are advisable for longer jaunts.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    It’s the time of year that some horse owners begin to think about heading South to continue competing and get more training where the weather is a bit more pleasant. While easy to get into the groove once they arrive at their destination, there is a bit of prep work to be done beforehand for both horse and transportation devices to ensure a safe trip.

    While there are many things horse owners know they must do before loading a horse into a trailer (like checking tire pressure and that all the lights work), there are some things that get lost in the shuffle. The following guidelines can help ensure a safe journey:

    • Make sure the horse has the right paperwork to cross state lines—and make it’s easily accessible (as in, put it in the truck). Additionally, open a conversation with your vet to be sure you have the right vaccinations on board for the disease threat your horse will be exposed to while he is away from his home farm.
    • When stopping for fuel or to give your horse a rest, monitor your horse’s vital signs, including pulse and respiration rate, and have a quick peek at his gums or test his skin with the pinch test to be sure he’s not becoming dehydrated. Once you arrive at your destination, watch him carefully, checking these things as well as his temperature at least once a day.
    • It goes without saying that you should have a well-stocked first-aid kit, but be sure it’s within reach should you need it in a hurry.
    • While the length of time to travel before stopping and allowing horses to rest is highly debated, the average consensus seems to be that horses should be allowed to rest every 3 to 4 hours during transport for a minimum of 20 minutes.
    • Consider carrying more than one spare tire and make sure that the spare, the aid to lift the trailer and any other tools are not so buried in the trailer that they can’t be easily reached.
    • While dehydration is a major concern during transport, talk with your vet to determine if electrolyte supplementation is necessary; UC Davis reports that “excessive or uncontrolled administration of electrolytes may actually have an adverse effect on water and electrolyte balance in the horse.”
    • An additional conversation to have with your vet is if a horse should be offered a medication to prevent ulcers prior to, during and immediately after shipping.
    • Consider withholding grain the day of the trip (he will have loads of hay to nibble) to reduce the risk of colic.

    Additionally, to lessen the chance your horse will get ill during transport, consider the following:

    • Ensure the horse has the ability to lower his head while traveling so he can clear his airway
    • Consider shipping with a buddy to make the trip less stressful
    • Make sure the trailer is as ventilated as possible; however, windows should be opened or closed as weather indicates to keep the trailer at a comfortable temperature for the horse
  • 11/21/2018 11:24 AM | Deleted user

    Thanksgiving is the time of year when we seem to get a brief reprieve in the busy-ness of life. The summer chores, horse shows and events have slowed and we can catch our breath for a minute before we delved into the madness of the holidays.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    As horse people, we are innately tied into the rhythm of the seasons; of the coming of spring and shedding season; of the heat of summer and stockpiling hay in preparation of cold weather to come; and of the cold as it comes and how our horses prepare themselves for the chill. We are blessed to be in nature, to see the beauty that surrounds us and to deeply love another creature. This holiday is a wonderful time of year to sit and reflect on the past year and be thankful for all that has been brought to us, and to look ahead with hope and optimism.

    In the spirit of thankfulness, we asked MSEDA members: What are you most thankful for with regards to horse sand farm life?

    My horses are truly my therapy. I am happiest when riding and a bad day is made better after sitting on my horse. They are my church pew. -- Molly DePerna

    Friends made with other horse-crazies. -- Marie Petroni

    My daughter has learned so much through riding I can’t name them all to be thankful for. -- Michelle Metcalf

    Other horse owners are thankful for a plethora of things. These include:
    Barn kitties! – Melissa King

    The pure unadulterated joy and love he brings me. Especially now with everything going on in my life, he is my everything. – Lori White

    The fact that it’s an instant group of friends/family every time you move to a new place where you know no one. – Marion Maybank

    Centeredness. Gratitude. Learning to be vulnerable. – Carli McKelvey

    Horses took me from little old New Zealand to travel the world and eventually settle in my childhood dream state SPECIFICALLY Lexington! I owe them everything. – Emma Lyster

    I am thankful horses are the reason I see the beautiful farm sunrise, every day. I am thankful for the friends and career they’ve brought me. I am thankful horses have taught (and constantly remind me) to be more patient, always seek more knowledge, and always look to improve.  What I like about the equestrian lifestyle? The saddlepads, definitely! – Kimberly McCormack

    I was finally able to start taking lessons when I turned 30. Before those lessons, I only rode Western for one summer as a young teen. I knew it would be expensive. I knew I was already so behind the game due to starting so late in life and never sitting in an English (barely there!) saddle. I also knew that this was my chance to realize a lifelong dream, even if I would only be able to do it, at most, 60 minutes a week. Flash forward to 8 years later, I am so thankful for my trainers who taught, pushed and yelled at me and told me that I COULD do it. I am so thankful for all the friends and connections I have made because of riding. It is a community that I'm proud to be a part of. I am thankful for my beautiful mare that, after 2.5 years of owning her, I still can't believe is mine. I am thankful for my ribbons, no matter what color, that remind me of how far I've come and of the goals that I still want to achieve. I am thankful for my husband who fully supports my habit. Riding has enriched my life in ways that I never would have expected. – Sarah Seitz

    Horses give me relief from my anxiety (believe it or not). When I had to take a break to have my son, it was the worst time in my life mental-health wise. Now that I'm back in it, I can't go without. I missed them so much and they have saved me so many times. – Drew Kemerling

    On the list of bazillion things I'm thankful for I am most grateful for all the people I meet through the barn and horses. My very best friendships in the world all began around a horse. – Tracy Walling

  • 11/05/2018 8:08 AM | Deleted user

    Horse show warm-up rings can be busy enough to strike fear in even the most-seasoned professional’s heart. Use these tips to survive the chaos so you can shine in the show ring.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    As the weather gets colder, warming up before a dressage test or jumping round becomes even more important to keep equine limbs and muscles limber. However, with the onset of cooler temps comes the issue of limited space to warm up, as all competitors are forced to do their riding preparation indoors before stepping into the show ring.

    The warm-up can be a chaotic place for even the most seasoned exhibitors. Horses seem like they are going every which way, people are calling (or not calling) fences you happen to be riding by and without fail there is at least one horse who is truly losing his mind. Add in trainers calling out instructions to their students, people standing and having a chat on the rail or in the middle of the ring, and you have one potentially harrowing experience, for both humans and horses.

    So how can you make the most of your show-ring prep time? While many of these are common sense, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of how to make the warm up as safe as possible for all horses and riders.

    • Make sure you are 100 percent prepared to work before you walk into the warm-up ring. This means having the girth tightened, helmet secured, stirrups adjusted and gloves on.
    • Keep a safe distance between horses. At least one horse length between you and any other horse (and more space for more-anxious horses) ensures your safety and that of your horse.
    • Always pass left shoulder to left shoulder.
    • Go with the flow of traffic whenever possible. Some horses cannot mentally handle other horses coming at them head on, no matter how many warm-up rings they have been ridden in.
    • Look where you’re going. Yes, your horse’s ears are super cute, but looking up and using your peripheral vision will help you know where others are in the ring to keep you both safe.
    • Speed takes the rail. If you’re going slower than others in the ring, or if you’re working on specific movements or lateral work, stick to the inside track.
    • If you’re in a warm up ring for jumping, be sure to call your fence, every time. If there are multiple warm-up fences, call out which one you’re taking (red cross rail, middle vertical, oxer, etc.) so others have time to get out of the way.
    • In a jump schooling ring, if at all possible, avoid the urge to circle. If you don’t see a distance, riding to the side of the fence is preferable to circling and potentially getting in another rider’s way.
    • If you’re sitting on a coffee-and-chat horse that doesn’t need a lot of show-ring prep, get in the ring, school and get out. Don’t lollygag around, chatting with friends or riding multiple riders abreast. Others need the limited space in the ring more than you do.

    Remember that the warm-up ring is not a place to train your horse; it’s meant to be a place to go in, show the horse his surroundings and work off some anxious energy before going in to compete.  Additionally, if your horse truly is having a breakdown in the warmup, it’s best to remove yourself from the situation before you make things worse of other riders. Your best bet to warm up may be hacks up and down the driveway or lunging in a smaller area outside of the designated warm-up ring.

    Minding your manners and being aware of other riders goes a long way to making the warm-up ring safe for both horses and riders. Understanding that you may not get to work on everything you would like to and remaining flexible will allow you to have a safe, productive warm-up ride and set the stage for a stellar show-ring round.

  • 10/12/2018 10:40 AM | Deleted user

    For most of us, nerves are par for the course during competition. But the anxiety you feel doesn’t have to zap your concentration.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    So, it’s show day. You’ve prepared as much as you possibly can, from the hours in the saddle to memorizing your test to cleaning every piece of tack (and the horse!) to the best you’re able. So, why so anxious, even with all this preparation?

    Nerves and anxiety at horse shows are normal, but it’s imperative that you learn to channel your nervous energy so you don’t make your mount a raging lunatic or get so overwhelmed that you literally don’t make sense.

    Changing Anxiety to Enthusiasm

    Equestrians are nothing if not passionate. The main reason riders get anxious at horse shows is that it’s something about which they care deeply. While this is a wonderful thing (it would be silly to spend that much time and money on something if we don’t care about the outcome!), it’s imperative that these emotions be kept in check so that you give yourself and your horse the chance to really shine.

    Anxiety in a controllable form is not a bad thing; this emotion heightens your awareness of what is going on and quickens your response time. Excitement and nervousness elicit the same physical response; so be excited to horse show—not nervous to go in the ring!

    The Bare Minimum to Keep Nerves at Bay

    While some of these seem silly—or downright impossible if you’re insanely crunched for time—each of these is crucial to setting yourself up for show-ring success. Excess nervous energy has been the demise of many a dressage test or showjumping round, so do your best to quell your anxiety by:

    • Keeping a steady stream of nutrition in your body, especially if you ride late in the day
    • Breathing deeply, taking air all the way into your lungs; shallow breathing can cause you to hunch your shoulders and channel anxiety to your horse.
    • Staying hydrated. While this goes without saying in the summer months, hydration is just as important in cooler weather, as well.
    • Getting some sleep. While this can seem impossible sometimes, rest helps calm nerves and allows you to focus to the best of your ability during the show.
    • Visualizing your success. We’ve all been taught to ride our test, cross-county track and showjumping round in our heads while talking with our coaches. But don’t let the visualization stop there! Repeatedly seeing yourself completing each phase well helps calm nerves about the unexpected and give you a plan on how to deal with issues if things go awry.

    Narrow Your Focus

    One very important thing to remember when horse showing is that the key at each show is progress. Progress in one thing, not all the things at once (wouldn’t that be nice!). While this can be incredibly hard to remember in the heat of the moment, think long and hard (and have a chat with your trainer) about what you want to accomplish in each phase. Focusing on one or two key things instead of a generalized “I want to do the best I can!” can help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with competition.

    Whatever you do, unless your horse is being extremely fractious or you’re literally completely incapacitated with fear, don’t scratch. Just like reinforcing a negative behavior in a horse, scratching allows you the out your brain is looking for if it’s overly anxious. Avoiding the issue won’t make it go away—you truly only get better at managing nerves by going in the ring.

    Ways to Manage Show Day Stress

    Some riders prefer to spend time with their horses before competition, grooming and braiding, performing routine, monotonous tasks to take the edge off their nerves. Others give themselves a pep talk, focusing on the positive. Though many times this has to be a conscious effort, saying to yourself “I am calm” instead of “I will NOT get nervous” can lead to a much more productive warmup and ride.

    MSEDA member Kristen Brennan says she manages show nerves with wine and Brooke Schafer seconds that with bourbon. Ellen Thompson jokingly says yelling at your mom helps with anxiety management, as well.

    Jacqui Cruz goes through her show day like a groom, which helps trick her mind into a state of preparedness. “I get there probably way too early to feed and clean, lunge if necessary, bathe my horse or at least the legs if needed after lunging, and then go get a coffee and breakfast. It's weird, but it works!” she says.

    Amelia Jean Foster says that when she is anxious, she will “obsessively pick my stalls. I repeat my test/course incessantly. I clean tack. I drink a lot of water (if I can’t eat, I may as well keep myself hydrated) and coffee. I walk back and forth from the stalls to the ring. I check if rings are running on time,” she says. “I’ve long given up trying to eliminate the nerves, but instead channel the activities into a pattern to keep myself busy and focused on the upcoming task.”

    So what else can you do to help battle show-day nerves? Work to pinpoint exactly what it is that is making you anxious. Is it the fear of forgetting a test? Falling? Looking “bad” in front of your friends? Being able to directly address where your anxiety is stemming from will help you find ways to work around the issue. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box. A few minutes listening to a meditation app or blasting your favorite upbeat song may be just want you need to quell your competition nerves!

  • 09/05/2018 1:13 PM | Deleted user

    While there is no such thing as “too much” of some vitamins and minerals (meaning the horse excretes out what he doesn’t need), selenium is not one of them: even a little more than needed can be toxic to horses.

    By Sarah E. Coleman

    An essential trace mineral important for respiratory, immune system, muscle and thyroid health in horses, selenium has a narrow margin of safety, meaning more isn’t always better. The FDA recommends that an average, 1,000-pound horse receive just 3 mg of selenium per day. Horses can get selenium from the grass, hay and commercial feed they ingest.

    While it’s easy to see the amount of selenium in commercial feeds and supplements that have clearly labeled tags, what your horse ingests from grass and hay can be more difficult to determine. Many areas of the country have soils that are selenium deficient, meaning that the crops grown on them are also low in selenium, so supplementation to be sure a horse is getting the adequate amount may be needed. The majority of horses in the United States don’t get enough selenium from forage along.

    However, the converse can also be true: There are also areas of the country where selenium content in soil (and therefore hay) is quite high. Specific types of plants grown on this soil retain amounts of selenium that are toxic to horses. Thankfully, given adequate pasture, the majority of horses will avoid eating these plants. The amount of selenium in an area depends on what type of rock formed the soil.

    So how can you know how much selenium your horse is eating? You can get your pastures analyzed for selenium content by a county extension agent. Once you know if your soils are high in selenium or deficient in selenium, as well as how much selenium he is receiving from a commercial feed (if he eats one at the recommended feeding rate), you can determine if you need to supplement his selenium intake or not.

    You can also pull blood or serum to test your horse’s selenium levels. It’s important to note that the selenium concentrations change rapidly with selenium intake when testing serum, but a whole-blood test can remain elevated for up to 9 months after supplementation has ended.

    A map to the selenium content in soil by county can be found here: https://mrdata.usgs.gov/geochem/doc/averages/se/usa.html

    How Does Selenium Toxicity Present?

    Many of us remember the deaths of 21 polo ponies in 2009 that resulted from an overdose of selenium in the compounded medication they were receiving; while this is an extreme case, there are certain things that can indicate a horse is receiving too much selenium:
    Acute selenium poisoning:

    • Labored breathing
    • Muscle tremors
    • Gait abnormalities
    • Garlic-smelling breath

    Chronic selenium toxicity is more common and can take place over weeks or months. This type of toxicity can result in:

    • Excessive salivation
    • Abdominal pain
    • Paralysis
    • Lameness
    • Blindness
    • Death

    How Can I Tell If My Horse Has a Selenium Deficiency?

    A selenium deficiency can be difficult to determine. Many horses with selenium deficiencies have:

    • Poor hair coat
    • Work intolerance
    • Cardiomyopathy
    • Muscle inflammation

    Selenium deficiency may also cause white muscle disease, cataracts, retained placentas and stunt growth.

    While only necessary in small amounts, selenium is integral to a horse’s health and wellbeing.

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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