Music of the Peers

Posted on July 12, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding, therapy, training.
USEF photo of Stefen Peters & Ravel (2012 Olympic Freestyle)

The dressage industry was one of the last disciplines to add the element of music to competition. The freestyle ride was long debated and denied as a performance class mostly because performance judges feared the option given to riders to create their own programs would initiate a trend toward circus-like presentations. In their opinion, over a period of years, the aberration of dressage movements could leave the classical principles of dressage in the shadows of  history. In the 1970’s, however, came a more immediate threat for the dressage industry: the financial burden of its horse events. Rising costs of stabling, insurance, maintenance of the ring footing, required such an excess of cash that the backing of corporate sponsors was essential. As they came on board, these sponsors began to encourage show organizers to consider more  ‘entertainment’ in the dressage field since it lacked both spectators and public appeal. To them, the musical freestyle seemed to perfectly fit that need.

The United States Dressage Federation and the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) met individually to decide on restrictions to set in place to protect the historical and classical nature of dressage in musical competition. Judging sheets were designed to include technical and creative scores. Freestyle riding forums were set up worldwide in order to publicly define acceptable performance movements and also to somewhat direct the quality of music expected. During the 1980’s, most freestyle riding refrained from extravagance with presentations almost exclusively relying on classical music. In addition, these original musical rides, constrained by rigid adherence to traditional movements, were only modestly artful in scope. Even so, dressage lovers were thrilled with the new classes. While spectators still yawned, the concept of dressage as a living, spontaneous “art form” was now dawning on its devotees. It gained even more momentum the moment it was finally allowed into the Olympic Ring in 1996.

With the new millennium came new riders with fresh ideas. New talent pushed toward the impossible in freestyle riding. No longer did Beethoven and Bach rule the freestyle ring. Hand-picked music picked up the beat with modern tunes. Daring riders heated up the competition through their innovative uses of mandatory movements. Overnight it seemed that empty bleachers became standing-room-only. The new phenomenon of the freestyle dressage class had commenced. Audiences cheered and applauded their favorites in the classes. Sponsors were elated. Judges were thrilled. Spectators left competitions with GPS directions to find the next up-coming freestyle event. Dressage became known as the ‘ballet of horseback riding’. Eager to keep competition classes fully attended, riders were generously rewarded in their scores.

However, some conservatives squirmed. The dark side of freestyle, so long ago feared, was beginning to emerge. Observers who set up alongside warm-up rings chronicled the use of controversial training methods bordering cruelty to defenseless mounts. Not only did Grand Prix riders lack common horsemanship, their brutality was heartily encouraged as the new, productive training method.

So-called ‘Roll-Kur’ technique seen in 2008 Olympic warm-up 

It was the shock wave that blackened the freestyle classes. In the 2008 Olympics the division widened between dressage camps as infuriated classicists revealed the barbarism of the new “Roll Kur”, a training technique that forced the horses to move briskly forward with their heads pulled into their chests, or all the way onto their knees. In addition, they pointed out that the  Individual Dressage Champion of the Olympic Games never performed the required full-stop at halt at any time during the test. Nor did its extravagant leg movement ever co-ordinate with the horse’s torso movement. The pressure of the bit in the horse’s mouth was so severe that it created a ‘blue-tongue’, proving lack of circulation, something never acceptable in correct dressage. It was demanded that the FEI, an organization long considered the protectorate of equestrian sports, meet to resolve the issue before the next Olympics. By the time of the 2012 Olympics,  stringent qualifications, ensuring that horses were more humanely prepared for show events, were put to the test. These corrections are still being evaluated and re-written to improve the public representation of classical dressage within both standard and freestyle Grand Prix classes. It is evident that the state of global dressage will always require keen scrutiny to maintain the classical principles. But the true highlight of the dressage freestyle is its breakout from the obscure timidity of its earlier days. It is finally acknowledged as a beautiful and accomplished art form. It has pranced forward to prove that both quality and musical entertainment are possible in the dressage industry.

Same horse in 2012 Olympics.Corrections to use of bit show a more classical ride

June 25,1876;The Horse who Survived

Posted on June 25, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, riding.

by Diana Linkous
comanche-horse

photo: US Calvary;Comanche the war horse, after a battle in 1870

Comanche, a famous war horse, born June 25, 1861, fifteen years to the very day before the battle of “The Little Big Horn”, was a 15 hand bay gelding, thought to be part mustang and part Morgan. He was bought by the U.S. Army in 1868 in St. Louis, and sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. A handsome looking horse, he was purchased by Captain Myles Keogh  for $90 to be used as his personal mount.  In the fall of 1868, his unit fought the Comanche tribe in Kansas. During the battle the horse was wounded. Unaware, Captain Keogh continued to fight from his back until the battle was over. Afterward, he discovered an arrow broken off in the horse’s hindquarters. As a tribute, he earned the name Comanche for his bravery in continuing to carry his master despite his own pain.

In 1870 during a battle again against the Comanche tribe, the war horse was wounded in the leg. He was lame for over a month this time, but finally recovered. Then, in 1871, Comanche was wounded in battle once more, this time in his shoulder.   The cavalry was very proud of this brave horse who  recovered quickly, then bravely returned to battle despite being wounded so many times.

On June 25, 1876, Captain Keogh rode Comanche into the valley of the Little Big Horn and the battle known as Custer’s Last Stand. This time they were fighting the Soux and Cheyenne tribes, and it was the last great battle for the Native Americans. They defeated the 7th cavalry and killed every soldier. The only member of the 7th cavalry left alive after the battle was Comanche.  Comanche was found two days after the battle with many wounds, and was very weak and barely able to stand. He was taken in a steam boat to Fort Lincoln, where he was so weak he had to be supported by a sling. He was nursed back to health, once again recovering from his battle wounds.

Comanche was officially retired and it was ordered that no one would ever ride him again. His faithful groom, Gustav Korn,  seen in most photos holding the horse, stayed with him. Comanche was given the title  “the Second Commanding Officer” of the 7th Cavalry, and his only duties were to be led in the front of official parades occasionally. In December, 1890,  Gustav was called back to duty for the battle at Wounded Knee.   He was fatally wounded.  Comanche had lost his faithful friend. On November 7, 1891, downhearted from waiting for  Gustav’s return, Comanche passed away. His body was mounted and put on display at the University of Kansas, where it stands to this day.

A reader’s comment: Captain Miles Keogh was an Irish mercenary. Early in his career he had served as part of the Pope’s private Vatican Army. He was awarded a medal, that he always wore on a chain around his neck. When the Cheyenne killed him on the Little Big Horn, they discovered the medal. Recognizing it as a religious device, they left his corpse alone. His was the only 7th Cavalry KIA whose body was not mutilated. During the US Civil War Captain Keogh served on the staff of the great cavalry officer, Brigadier General John Buford (1st Cavalry Division). They intercepted the leading elements of Robert E. Lees Army of Northern Virginia in front of Gettysburg on June 30, 1863 and held them up until the rest of the Federals could arrive on the field. Hence, they were instrumental in the Union victory in that important battle. Captain Miles Keogh introduced the famous cavalry canter song “Garry Owen” to the 7th Cavalry Regiment. It remains so to this day, and the slogan and greeting among members of the 7th is “Garry Owen.” It is a very stirring tune. Aloha, Mark Mallory.

Quartermaster and Horse Keeper

Posted on June 12, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, handicap, health, history, military, therapy.
76th Brigade, 1917

76th Brigade, 1917

The land, or Army, Quartermaster Department is the unit responsible for organizing and distributing supplies to our troops. The availability and volume of materials they control provides the means for military operations. Its inception here in the United States was just before the Revolutionary War in 1775.  It became a powerful role in the equine development of our country. Our first Quartermaster General, prior to the breakout of war in 1776, was appointed by the Continental Congress whose members included two future presidents: George Washington and John Adams; it also included the business/philosopher Benjamin Franklin; and the famous freedom fighter,Governor Patrick Henry.  Their first appointee, General Thomas Mifflin, tried for nearly two years to run the new department but eventually became overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of the job, especially since the lack of supplies to provide, and roads to bring them to the troops, nearly lost the war more than once.  The first Quartermaster General resigned in 1777.
A  young Rhode Island Officer, Nathaniel Greene, was appointed his successor. Edward Payson writes of Maj. Gen Greene (in the 1950 Quartermaster Review): “Throughout the winter he [Greene] had vigorously protested against conditions in the Quartermaster General’s Department, particularly the shortage of forage for horses, hundreds of which, he pointed out, had starved to death. ”
Gifted with leadership and organization, Greene established a transportation system for stock and wagons, agents to examine and purchase animals and equipment, and multiple sites for forage depots in an effort to keep soldiers and animals from starvation while out in battle. The results had an immediate beneficial impact and strengthened our position in the war, earning the Officer some of George Washington’s highest praises.

Nathanael Greene

Nathanael Greene

The availability of horses during wartime was always a problem.  Equine casualties were grossly high, ranging into the multiples of thousands of dead horses. Because of this it was impossible to maintain enough mounts.  When regional supplies of horses available for purchase were exhausted, private horses would be seized for military use. During the Civil War, for example, the approach of Northern troops into a southern town meant raiding of the horse barns, as well as their food pantries. Many southerners used their crossbred horses for battle and left their valuable breeding horses at home. When these were seized, the bloodlines of some of our founding breeds were lost forever.
Eventually, the Quartermaster Division realized the need to establish their own equine division which would include their own breeding farms. This Division can easily be called the predecessors of the US horse industry. When the field quartermaster soldiers who had worked with both mules and horses, returned to the private sector they entered their communities with well honed horsemanship skills. They regenerated the field of horse services. Also the retired Calvary Officers left their posts to become competition judges and were a powerful influence on the core principles of horsemanship and horse husbandry, principles which are still widely practiced today. During peacetime the military equine division brought about mutual competitions, establishing  3-Day Eventing Competitions and eventually becoming international, which ultimately led to participation in the Equestrian Olympics.

The Movie Horse

Posted on June 7, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, health, history.

During the heyday of films that featured horses, a sub-industry evolved to supply horses for movies. One of the major horse suppliers, along with providing stagecoaches, wagons, and other equipment, was Randall Ranch in Newhall, Calif. The owner of the ranch was Glenn Randall Sr., the man who trained Trigger for Roy Rogers’ personal appearances.     Assisting him were sons Glenn Jr. (J.R.) and Buford (Corky) Randall. In 2006,  Corky Randall, 75 , and trainer of The Black Stallion, remembered those early days on the movie sets and the harsh treatment of horses in the industry.

Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger   Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger

 

During early film making, horses were often were considered disposable products. If a horse was injured or killed during a particular sequence, another replaced it. If the script called for a horse to go crashing to the earth, trip wires sent it sprawling. Sometimes legs were broken in the process. Scenes where horses were driven off of the cliff to their death were tragically true to life as horses were forced off of cliffs to their death.  The major turning point came in 1939 when Jesse James was filmed, says Wheatley. The movie starred Tyrone Power as Jesse James and Henry Fonda as Frank James. In one of the scenes, a posse is in hot pursuit of Frank James. To escape them, he and the horse plunge over a cliff and into the river. The next scene shows Fonda and the horse swimming to safety in the river.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. The horse used in the scene lost its life. For the scene, says Wheatley, the horse was placed on a slippery platform called a tilt chute. At a key moment, the chute tilted and the horse went over the cliff into the water and was killed.  The on scene crew objected and told the story. Public outrage forced the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to take action. As a first step, MPAA gave the AHA legal rights to set guidelines and oversee the treatment of animals on movie sets, and eventually television programs.

Tragic death scene in Jesse James 1939 movie

Tragic death scene in Jesse James 1939 movie

There was something of a hiatus in the humane treatment of animals on production sets from 1966 until 1980. In fact,  AHA safety representatives weren’t even allowed on sets. Animals were frequently overworked and kept in unsafe environments, and the trip wires were once again used.

“Those were the dark days for horses in movies,” says Karen Rosa, director of the AHA Film and TV Unit in Los Angeles, Calif.  Then, says Rosa, the death of another horse during the filming of Heaven’s Gate spurred reform. In the film, the script called for a saddle to be blown off a horse’s back, says Rosa. Explosives apparently were used, she said, and when they went off, the horse was so severely injured that it had to be euthanized.  The Screen Actors Guild, whose members were distressed by what had occurred, stepped up to the plate by insisting on restoring the AHA’s power. In 1980, the MPAA granted the AHA sole authority to protect animals used in film and television through a contract with the Screen Actors Guild.

The result of the new protection for the equine stars is the careful preparation for horses for the roles they are chosen to play. Jack Lilley is the owner of Movin On Livestock, a motion picture barn who supplies animals for TV and film. Hired to oversee the equine handling on movies like the upcoming Magnificent Seven, Lilley ensures Hollywood’s horses are kept safe and happy. This requires patience, training, and selecting the right animals in the first place.  As with humans, not just any horse is cut out to be a star. Before a horse can even gallop on set they need to be vetted for their disposition. If a horse is too skittish, or “looky” as Lilley describes them, they might not be a great choice to bring to a bustling movie set full of flashing lights, loud noises, and frantic people. “We don’t want any of them prancing or high-powered horses,” says Lilley. “We want that type that you could put [your kids] on, and say, ‘Ride him home.’” It’s important that a movie horse isn’t startled or spooked easily, both for the safety of the riders and the animals. “All in all, the American Quarter Horse is the best. They’ve got the best disposition and nothing bothers them.” Lilley’s ranch gets a new horse around the age of five and up, and often from traditional ranches. Cowboys—real ones, not movie ones—will slowly ride the horses around a set with the lights and production pieces in place to familiarize them with the noise and action. “I like to start them on a big street scene,” says Lilley. “Pretty soon they see that nothing’s going to bother them.” Ideally they’ll acclimate to the madness of a movie set to the point of being shockingly docile. “[The ideal horse is one that] you could fall all over. If you were doing a fight, you could roll under his belly and he wouldn’t try to step on you,” says Lilley.

Pawnee Actor with horse in "Hell On Wheels" series

Pawnee Actor with horse in “Hell On Wheels” series

references: ‘The Hollywood Horse’ from: the horse.com ; Behind the Scenes with Horses from Hollywood: Atlas Obscura.com

 

 

Equi-Trivia Quiz!

Posted on May 19, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding.

trivia3

If you pride yourself on horse trivia then take this quiz.

Rate your obsession!  Tally your results then go to the answer page.

Find out: Do you know a little about horses or are you a confirmed addict!

Horse Quiz:

1. Which of these said:   “I’m a stallion, baby! I can whinney!”

A. Eeyore

B. Donkey from Shrek

C. Mr. Ed

2. Made famous by their well known movie trilogies,which character did not use a horse for a quick escape?

A. Marty McFly

B. Frodo

C. Indiana Jones

3. Can you select the toy from the ‘breeds’?

A. Fallabella

B. Breyer

C. Paint

4.   Harry Potter did not ride one of these horse creatures:

A. Unicorn

B. Centaur

C. Thestral

5.   Anna Sewell wrote this book:

A. Black Stallion

B. Starlight

C. Black Beauty

6. Which t.v. star and horse pair is incorrect?

A. Roy Rogers and Trigger

B. Wilbur and Mr Ed

C. Lone Ranger and Tonto

7.  Do you know which of these is not a young horse?

A. Pony

B. Foal

C. Colt

8.  The early ancestor to the modern day horse was called:

A.  Protohippus

B. Equiworkus

C. Eohippus

How did you do? Check your tally results;  click     here

Doma Vaquera Equitation

Posted on May 5, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding, training.

doma_vaquera.jpgby Jerrilee Streeter

Doma Vaquera is a Spanish phrase that defines the individuals in Spain who work with the cattle and bulls on the ranches and out on the hillsides. The doma vaquera is a person who has a special manner, or style, in which they dress. There is special riding tack , and a unique, individual way in which their horses are taught and ridden that distinguishes them from other riding disciplines. In Spain, some Doma Vaquera still go into the bullring to challenge the bull and still others demonstrate their skillful riding as they guide their horse in their work among the cattle. Included with the regular gear that a doma vaquero works with is the use of a garrocha. The garrocha is a long wooden pole used as an extension of the doma vaquera’s arm to activate, push, and guide cattle along the hillsides. In countries outside of Spain, the Doma Vaquera has evolved into a riding discipline that simulates the pattern work and movements of a working bullfighter mount. The rider still wears the traditional outfit and saddles the horse with the traditional gear to practice a combination of lateral jumps, sudden stops, and pirouettes which are used by today’s working doma vaqueras. There are even riding competitions where participants can show their horse’s special abilities in performing the patterns and movements of the doma vaquero horse. This includes the garrocha which, when used in the competition arena, can be an artful, breathtaking performance, especially when the rider works through the maneuvers without the use of the reins. A demonstration of this can be viewed on the La Garrocha . (To preserve the purity of the performance the link has been kept in its original Spanish format.Click video to begin)  Doma Vaquero will show an public demonstration.

for riding demo.

The First Cowboys; the Vaquero

Posted on May 4, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, history, riding, training.

The Vaquero vaquero.jpg

The Vaquero, or Mexican cattle herder, came from Mexico in the 1800’s and eventually became employees of the cattle and horse ranches that developed in the southwest.  Two parts of the southwest were predominantly Vaquero namely, Texas and  California. In these states the parents of many vaqueros  raised their families on the ranch where they worked, and as their children became Vaqueros and married, they too raised their families there. The beef industry was a powerful market, rising to its peak in the nineteenth century. The daily duties for a vaquero required long hours of strenuous livestock management, seeing to the transportation of cattle which they drove through rugged, raw territories to the markets where they were sold and shipped. The vaquero was also responsible for the breeding, branding, and safety of all the cows and horses on the ranch as well as the maintenance of the fencing and stabling. Although the western United States was still Mexican territory during this time, the ranchers carried a lot of influence since they were the providers of the food and the mounts for the Mexican Calvary, and eventually the US Calvary.

‘Most vaqueros were men of mestizo and Native American origin while most of the hacendados (ranch owners) were ethnically Spanish. Mexican traditions spread both South and North, influencing equestrian traditions from Argentina to Canada.  As English-speaking traders and settlers expanded westward, English and Spanish traditions, language and culture merged to some degree. Before the Mexican-American War in 1848, New England merchants who traveled by ship to California encountered both hacendados and vaqueros, trading manufactured goods for the hides and tallow produced from vast cattle ranches. American traders along what later became known as the Santa Fe Trail had similar contacts with vaquero life. Starting with these early encounters, the lifestyle and language of the vaquero began a transformation which merged with English cultural traditions and produced what became known in American culture as the “cowboy”. ‘ (J.Malone, p 3)

As eastern and mid-western settlers began their migration into the western territories they watched and learned the vaquero methods of cattle ranching. They adopted these methods when establishing their own ranches. When the western territories became adopted into the United States, many vaqueros stayed on to work for smaller ranches since many of the elaborate Mexican ranches were dissolved and their territories divided.
For a rare opportunity to learn more about the history of the Vaquero from someone who had personal experience, read Jesse Wilkinson’s site:   Vaquero.

Hoof Trimming Insights

Posted on April 28, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, health, history, hoofcare.

(submitted from Catherine Sky)

Having worked with Bureau of Land Management wild horses in past years and raised various strains of Spanish Mustangs some of which were descendants of founding stock directly from the wild, I have seen some varying differences in hoof type due to terrain and environment.
Cerbathorse

Example 1)  Cerbats from Marble Canyon in the Cerbat Mountain range near Kingman Arizona. The Cerbat as a strain of Spanish Mustang and generally untouched by man until mid 90’s had managed to evolve a very steep angle as a herd to a horse. Reason being or seeming to be is the rocky cactus terrain they lived in for over 200 years. They had to dig for water sometimes 6 feet to survive some waterless summers. The hoof is round narrow and upright. The steep angles and high heels protected their heels and coronet bands from cactus and sharp rocks. An average angel for a typical Cerbat and many if not most of their 1/2 crosses would be 60 degrees, with few standing at 58 degrees and many as high as 63 degrees. Their walls are typically denser, thicker than other Spanish Mustangs or Wild horses form other areas. The early Cerbat as a group had tendencies to be laterally gaited as well. They created their own mustang roll from constant digging.
GreyEagle2

Example 2)  Horses descending from Yellow Fox, SMR#2 a Montana Cheyenne Indian Reservation horse are descendants raised on Wyoming prairie of over 3000 acres. Very rocky but unlike Marble Canyon, Wyoming’s rolling hills spread out over the 3000 acres dotted with prairie dog holes. The typical hoof is large, wide and flat, and low heels with angles nearing 55 degrees. 56 would be pushing high heels on these horses.
bookcliff

Example 3)  The early Book Cliff horses from Utah. These would be the 1930-40’s stock prior to the draft infusion into the herds. Small, round, flint-hard hooves, these feet are closest to the ideal model that is used to describe mustang healthy hooves. Book Cliff blood still have these type of feet even raised on pastures which says something for genetics and natural selection that takes generations to make changes. Most studies of wild horses feet are based on Nevada wild horses who also live on mostly sandy slide rock and gravel like surfaces, with a few from woodlands up north.

corrolaa

Example 4) the Corolla Banker horses who live along ocean beaches and in marshlands have pony-like feet that grow quite long and are not worn off to the same degree as we see in the mustang studies. These horses have tough healthy hooves that tend to be a bit longer. The angles are pretty average also. They have a long history of soundness.

When trimming horses, one should take into consideration what genetics and what environment shaped the animal in front of them. You can’t trim a Cerbat like you would trim a Corolla. You may be able to trim a Book Cliff bred horse similar to a Nevada wild horse, but the Yellow Fox bred horses (regardless of the pasture or prairie where it was raised), still have a genetically different hoof to tackle.
When considering the mustang roll on your horse it is necessary to consider what kind of surface the horse is walking on and what kind of load they are carrying. A horse working in sand may not need the mustang roll in order to break over. For instance, the Bedouin Arabian is not known for a natural mustang roll yet they are world renowned for their flint hard feet and soundness in their homeland.

..exact author of this article is unknown

Sergeant Reckless

Posted on April 11, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, history, military, training.
preparing for transport

preparing for transport

Photo: Library of Congress  Sgt Reckless in Korean War

During the Korean War (1950-1953), Sergeant Reckless, a pony sized, 14 hand mare believed to be of Mongolian descent, became famous for her unescorted trips carrying munitions to the front lines. She carried rifles, ammunition and supplies for the Marines as a pack horse, and her commitment and reliability to her work earned her lifelong recognition.

In 1953, during a five-day test known as the Battle of Outpost Vegas the little sorrel mare transported a total of 9,000 pounds of shells. In one day alone she made 50 trips, packing ammunition up the hill and carrying wounded soldiers down. With the exception of the first trip or two, she made these journeys solo, with no human  leading her. The savagery of that battle was legend. “Twenty-eight tons of bombs and hundreds of the largest shells turned the crest of Vegas into a smoking, death-pocked rubble,” it was written at the time.  The artillery was firing at the rate of 500 rounds per minute!

“Enemy soldiers could see her as she made her way across the deadly ‘no man’s land’ of rice paddies and up the steep 45-degree mountain trails that led to the firing sites,” according to the fan site SgtReckless.com, which goes on to quote Sgt. Maj. James E. Bobbitt recalling, “It is difficult to describe the elation and the boost in morale that little white-faced mare gave Marines as she outfoxed the enemy bringing vitally needed ammunition up the mountain.”

Lt. Eric Pedersen found the mare at a Korean track where she racing under the name Ah Chim Hai, or Flame-in-the-Morning.  He purchased her for $250. As the story goes, the young boy that owned her, Kim Huk Moon, was reluctant to sell his beloved horse, but wanted the money to buy an artificial leg for his sister, who had stepped on a land mine. Her new name, Reckless,  was derived from a  new weapon, the recoilless rifle anti-tank gun.

Once recruited to the Korean war front her division soon discovered to watch their supplies. She was known to sneak into food bags and devour their contents. In addition to a morning cup of coffee, she loved cake,  Coca Cola, Hershey bars and all candy), and was famous for escaping her pasture and sneaking into tents for a warm night’s sleep. Sgt. Reckless includes among her many military honors two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.  Reckless died in May 1968 at the age of 20 at her home at the Marine Corps’ stables in Camp Pendleton, CA.

reckless2

 

(thanks to the equestrian news)

Second Careers for Older Horses

Posted on April 2, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, therapy, training.
Author riding 25 year old Morgan Mare

Author riding 25 year old Morgan Mare

I once had an instructor who firmly believed that we don’t pick our horse, the horse chooses us. Whether that be true or false, purchasing or accepting the gift of a horse from someone is one of those decisions that compares with finding the right relationship, or the best job. First of all, it calls for a clear and honest evaluation of  both our intended use for the horse and of our goals, such as the strategies for training, if needed, and are we equal to that task. Ignoring this simple process has left many a hopeful horse owner with post-purchase blues.  Secondly, the number of horses rescued from squalor or brutality indicates the need for correct assessment, not just of our riding skills, but also our available funds and time to spend with our horse, and our ability to provide a clean, natural environment once we accept the horse as our own.

Every level of rider will find their equal level in a horse when it comes to matching talent for talent, skill for skill. Horses range to each extreme in temperaments and athletic ability. But one of our most valuable resources in the horse industry is the older horse.  These seasoned campaigners are one of the best catches for children, novice, handicapped, or elderly riders. The older, more traveled horses provide safe, predictable interaction for novices learning their way through the horse world. The slower pace of the beginner, whose focus is on position and saddle competence rather than on high level, show-quality performance, is an easier pace for the older horse. The elementary curriculum also provides a job for a functionally impaired horse, who may have arthritis or soft tissue weakness.  How often we discover that the new schedule gives old chronic injuries the time to heal, and our impaired horse is much sounder and healthier.  An extremely aged horse who can no longer be ridden can still live out its remaining years serving as a companion for foals, breeding mares, or convalescing horses.

Choosing a horse in its late teens or early twenties still offers many years of opportunity for a rider to continue to learn from their horse. I once had a friend who accepted the gift of a 26 year old horse and found it to be the perfect companion for an occasional ride. He had never ridden or owned a horse before but his horse carried him around the mountain trails of his home with ease and with perfect manners.  This same horse lived to be 31 and my friend still reminisces about the five years they spent together camping out in the mountains. But his happiest moments, he said, were those just spent hanging around the barn with a beer and his favorite horse buddy.

equi-works

equi-works