A Political Voice For Horses: The American Horse Council

American Horse Council logoIf you’ve been involved even peripherally in the political scene over the several months,  you have probably heard of lobbyists and special interest groups using their voice to be sure that our government is aware of their concerns and needs.  But who is speaking up for the horse industry?  The American Horse Council!

Founded in 1969, the American Horse Council (AHC) was organized by a group of horsemen concerned about federal legislation affecting their industry. They recognized the need for national and coordinated industry action in Washington, DC.   Since its inception, the AHC has been promoting and protecting the equine industry by representing its interests in Congress and in federal regulatory agencies on national issues that affect to each and every person involved in the horse industry.

The AHC promotes and protects all horse breeds, disciplines and interests by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry itself each and every day.

The AHC is member supported by approximately 160 organizations and 1,200 individuals representing every facet of the horse world – from owners, breeders, trainers, veterinarians, farriers, breed registries and horsemen’s associations to horse shows, racetracks, rodeos, commercial suppliers and state horse councils.

The AHC has seven committees – the Government Affairs Advisory Council, Racing Committee, Showing Committee, Health and Regulatory Committee, Animal Welfare Committee, Recreation Committee and the State Horse Council Advisory Committee – that we look to for expertise and advice on the issues we face.

In 2005, the AHC wanted to demonstrate to the general public, the media and federal, state and local officials that the horse industry is diverse, vibrant and provides a significant economic impact to our country.  An economic study was done by Deloitte Consulting LLP validated what the industry has known for some time.  The horse industry is a very large, important and wide-ranging part of our national, state and local economies, involving agriculture, business, sport, gaming, entertainment and recreation.

Highlights of the national study include:AHC Time To Ride

  • There are 9.2 million horses in the United States.
  • 6 million Americans are involved in the industry as horse owners, service providers, employees and volunteers. Tens of millions more participate as spectators.
  • 2 million people own horses.
  • The horse industry has a direct economic effect on the U.S. of $39 billion annually.
  • The industry has a $102 billion impact on the U.S .economy when the multiplier effect of spending by industry suppliers and employees is taken into account. Including off-site spending of spectators would result in an even higher figure.
  • The industry directly provides 460,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.
  • Spending by suppliers and employees generates additional jobs for a total employment impact of 1.4 million FTE jobs.
  • The horse industry pays $1.9 billion in taxes to all levels of government.

To purchase the comprehensive 2005 National Economic Impact of the U.S. Horse Industry, go to: http://www.horsecouncil.org/national-economic-impact-us-horse-industry

In addition, the AHC has joined with the Unwanted Horse Coalition, a broad alliance of equine organizations is to reduce the number of unwanted horses and to improve their welfare through education and the efforts of organizations committed to the health, safety, and responsible care and disposition of these horses.  Their focus is to educate owners who are unaware of, or do not give enough thought to, the available options, services and assistance available in the industry to help them ensure that their horse has caring and humane support throughout its life.

For more information on the American Horse Council:  http://www.horsecouncil.org/

For more information on the Unwanted Horse Coalition:   http://www.unwantedhorsecoalition.org

 

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Improve Your Dressage – Volunteer To Be A Dressage Show Scribe

scribeOne of the best ways to improve your dressage scores is to volunteer to scribe for a judge at a dressage show.  This gives you a front-row seat to see the ride and hear how the judge scores it.  It can help you learn just what the judge’s are looking for in each movement.  Not only will you hear the number score, you will also hear any comments the judge makes as to why they scored the movement the way they did.

The Scribe is the person who sits beside the judge during each ride and writes the judge’s score and comments onto the test sheet. The Scribe must be able to record the judge’s comments accurately and consistently. While the numbers indicate the score, the remarks will most often tell you why you received that number or what  you need to work on.

You will be required to sit quietly and concentrate for several hours just listening and writing.  The time commitment is typically four hours, but some judges prefer to have the same scribe all day. At the end of the test, the Scribe gives the completed and signed test sheet to a runner who takes it for official scoring.

dresage test score sheetA Scribe should have familiarity with dressage and the terms that may be used during a test. They must be able to record the judge’s score and remarks quickly, clearly and legibly.  Scribes must maintain confidentiality and make no remarks about any horses or riders in the competition, including but not limited to, any background information about the horse or rider, their trainer/coach, breeding, etc.  Above all, a Scribe must never repeat any of the judge’s remarks.

In addition, the Scribe helps the judge prepare for each test. At the start of each class (ex. Training Level, Prix St. Georges), be sure the judge knows what test is being performed. A spare copy of the test should be available for the judge if they need to refresh their memory. Be sure that everything the judge needs is available.  This can include a copy of the ride time schedule, pens/pencils, test sheets, whistle or bell and water/coffee if the judge prefers.

Before the first ride, discuss with the judge how he/she prefers to report scores and comments.  Establish clearly whether comments for a movement will be given before or after the score so that comments will be entered in the proper place.  Establish whether the judge wants comments abbreviated or will not accept abbreviations. If judge allows such, use abbreviations as much as possible.  You should not talk to the judge during a ride. However, if you get lost on the correct movement being scored, quietly ask what movement the next score will be for.

As the rider enters the arena, check each rider’s number, confirming it with the number on the test sheet. If the numbers do not match, find out who the rider is and locate the proper test sheet. Write the judge’s comments exactly as given. Do not rearrange or edit. At the conclusion of the test, but before giving the score sheet to the runner, review what you’ve written reflects what the judge said.  Double check that the test includes all required scores, that errors are clearly marked and that the judge has signed the test score sheet.  Some judges may wish to write their own note to the competitor on the bottom of the test, or may dictate them to you.

The United States Dressage Federation (USDF) has put together a list of guidelines for Scribes.  Click HERE for a copy.  Note, too, that it lists the most common abbreviations used when scribing.  With the permission of the judge, use this to make your job easier and more efficient.

What I Accidentally Learned at a Julie Goodnight Clinic

Julie goodnight horse masterEarlier this year, I attended my first Julie Goodnight clinic at the Washington State Horse Expo in Ridgefield, WA.  For those of you who don’t know her, Julie Goodnight is a multidisciplinary rider and clinician, with experience in dressage, jumping, racing, reining, colt-starting, cutting, and wilderness riding. She teaches natural horsemanship, emphasizing doing what is best for the horse, and also the rider’s safety at her clinics and on  her television show on Horse Master With Julie Goodnight.

Julie’s clinic are a combination of “show and tell.”  She was working with another rider, while riding her own horse and explaining what she was doing.  Suddenly, the participants horse started to whinny and whinny and whinny.  Julie advised not to punish the horse and went on to explain the way horses communicate “verbally.”

“Horses are limited to just a few audible expressions that they use to communicate: the whinny, nicker, snort and squeal, all of which have varying deliveries and subtle inflections. The four audible expressions each have specific meaning.

Nickers are the guttural, low-pitched pulsating expressions and occur most often just prior to being fed and announce the horse’s presence and anticipation. Stallions will also nicker at mares during reproductive behavior to draw the mare’s attention. Mares typically give a third type of nicker to their young foals when the mare is concerned about the foal. Basically all three types of nickers mean, “come closer to me.”

Whinnies or neighs are high-pitched calls that begin like a squeal and end like a nicker and it is the longest and loudest of horse sounds. The whinny is a social call and seems to be a form of individual recognition and most often occurs when a foal and mare or peer companions are separated or when a horse is inquisitive after seeing a horse in the distance. The whinny seems to be a searching call that facilitates social contact from a distance.

Snorts and blows are both produced by forceful expulsion of air through the nostrils. The snort has a rattling sound but the blow does not. The snort and blow communicates alarm and apparently serves to alert other horses. The snort may also be given when a horse is restless but constrained and in this case it should be taken seriously as a sign that the horse is feeling trapped and alarmed and may become reactive.

The squeal is a high-pitched outcry with meaning as a defensive warning or threat that the annoyed individual will become aggressive if further provoked. Squeals are typical during aggressive interactions between horses, during sexual encounters when the mare protests the stallion’s advances and when a pre- or early-lactating mare objects to being touched anywhere near her sore teats.

Horses also make body noises that are not communicative but may tell you more about the horse’s physical state. They may groan and snore; the groan occurs mostly when the horse is lying down on his side (lateral recumbency) and is often made by a tired horse as he lies down. The groan may also be an expression of prolonged discomfort like when a horse is colicking or a mare is in labor. The snore is usually labored breathing in a recumbent horse and sounds a lot like the human snore.” – Julie Goodnight, 2007.

Many of us have experienced working with our horse and suddenly they go off on a bout of whinnying, i.e. looking for a friend.  Horses can feel insecure, especially when working alone in a large space.  The best way to overcome this is to working with your horse to establish that YOU are the herd leader.  You are the one in charge of keeping him safe.  He doesn’t need to call for a friend because you are already there to take care of him.  Once he accepts you as the alpha, the whinnying should cease.

Next time there’s a clinician in your area, don’t miss it because they may be focusing on a discipline you don’t practice.  I ride just for pleasure, but it was great to learn something new about horse behavior.

Photo credit:  Julie Goodnight

 

 

Creating the Dressage Musical Freestyle

It’s sometimes called “horse ballet” by those that don’t understand the sport.  But actually, they are not too far off. The power and elegance of dressage combined with the beauty of appropriate music can turn our sport into art – like figure skating or, yes, even ballet.

The Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle is coming up in the 2012 London Olympics and if there’s one thing you can watch, this would be it. Unlike the dressage tests like the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special, every freestyle will be different. However, jus t like figure skating, all freestyles must contain certain movements to show the level of training of the horse and rider. To see a copy of the Grand Prix Freestyle score sheet, click HERE.

If you watch and listen carefully, you’ll notice that different riders use different types of music, based on their horse. A rider with a big, powerful horse may use music that is more majestic. A rider with a smaller, finer-boned horse may use music that is lighter and “airy.” The choice of music is probably the most important part of the freestyle, even more important than the choreography. In fact, there is a specific score for the music and the interpretation. To evaluate your horse’s way of going to different music, riders will often video having their horse ridden at all the gaits and movements they will use. They may even put a different color boot or polo wrap on one of the front legs to help visually see the cadence of foot falls and how it matches up to the music. After the video is made, you can try different types of music and see what best fits your horse’s way of moving. This is often the most difficult thing for new freestyle choreographers to embrace. They have a favorite piece of music that they desperately want to ride to. However, it may not be the best music to show off your horse and choreography. The music rarely, if ever, contains vocals as they can be too distracting when watching the artistic interpretation of horse and music. It is also rare for one piece of music to fit your whole freestyle, so be prepared to use different types of music, though you’ll notice they are usually in the same genre, e.g. all classical, all show tunes, all Big Band.

charlotte dujardin record dressate London Olympia.JPGAt the Grand Prix level, some of the riders have music choreographed especially for their dressage freestyle. This is the case for Charlotte Dujardin who rode, at the London Olympic World Cup, received a record 94.3% for her  freestyle with music composed by Tom Hunt.  To see that awesome ride, click HERE.

Here’s some expert advice from Tom Hunt on designing your own freestyle:

“My advice to anyone starting out would be to find music that really suits the personality and characteristics of your horse. Once you have a style of music that you like, whether it’s classical or pop, it is important to try and create a theme for the freestyle. That can be a musical theme that is repeated throughout the routine or music from a show soundtrack for example. It’s important that there’s a connection linking the music choices together so that the freestyle makes sense as a whole piece. This will also make it easier for audiences to stay engaged with the overall experience of the freestyle.

“Getting to grips with the differences in tempo of your horse’s paces is crucial. Make a video of your floorplan and, with a metronome, take some time to work out the BPM (Beats Per Minute) of each pace and work with music choices that complement the horse’s tempo, style and rhythm. If you have a big horse with powerful movement it is important to use music that emphasizes these characteristics.

“Another good piece of advice is to arrange the music to highlight the changes in the floorplan / choreography. This may sound obvious but it can really help a rider stay on the beat if they know where they need to be at any given point in the music. Understanding the phrasing of music can help you with this aspect when it comes to putting the music to your floorplan.”

While anyone can create and ride a musical freestyle, the United States Dressage Federation recommends that you ride at a level BELOW what you are currently showing in regular dressage. For example, if you are showing at 2nd Level, you should create a freestyle for 1st Level or Training Level.

So for all you frustrated “So You Think You Can Dance” dancers or choreographers, here’s your chance for you and your partner to show off!

dressage freestyle cartoon

Photo credits:
http://www.dressage-news.com
www. MichiganDressageClinics.com

 

 

Equestrian Olympic Medals – Team vs. Individual

2016 OLYMPIC EQUESTRIAN COMPETITION SCHEDULE

olumpic timetable

As  you can see from the schedule, there are Olympic medals to be awarded for teams  as well as for individuals in each discipline.  And if it appears that some of them are judged at the same time, they are.  It can be a bit complicated, so here are the official FEI rules as well as an explanation.

EVENTING:Blackfoot Mystery Boydandsilvamartin

The FEI rules say, “The Team and Individual Competition will be run concurrently on separate consecutive days in the following order: the Dressage test, the Cross Country test and the Team Jumping Competition to determine the Team winner.”

“The Individual final Jumping test will take place after the Team Jumping Competition on the same day. The twenty five (25) best Athletes, including those who tie for twenty fifth (25th) place on the conclusion of the Team Competition (maximum three (3) best scoring Athletes per team classification per nation) will qualify to participate.”

What it means:  Everyone does the 2008 Olympic Games 4* B  (short)  dressage test, the cross-country course and the jump course.  Upon conclusion of these three, the team medals are announced.  Then they take the top 25 scores (made up of all three components) and these horse/riders come back for another run at the jump course.  Best score made up of dressage, cross-country and this 2nd jump course indicates the individual winners.

DRESSAGE:

RooseveltThe FEI rules say, “Team and First Individual Qualifier, The FEI Grand Prix Test, in which all Athletes must participate, is the First Team Qualifying Competition and the First Individual Qualifying Competition

Team Final and Second Individual Qualifier, the FEI Grand Prix Special, is the final Team Competition and the Second Individual Qualifying Competition. The FEI Grand Prix Special is limited to and compulsory for the best six (6) placed teams of the Grand Prix, including those tied for sixth (6th) place, as well as the eight (8) highest placed Athletes of the Grand Prix not otherwise participating as qualified team members, including those tied for eighth (8th) place.

In the Individual Final Competition,  the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle test is the Final Individual Competition which is limited to and compulsory for the 18 best placed Athletes of the FEI Grand Prix Special Competition, including those who tie for eighteenth (18th) place. Only the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle Competition counts towards the final Individual classification. The winning individual Athlete is the one (1) with the highest total percentage in the Grand Prix Freestyle Competition.”

What it means:  Everyone competes in the FEI Grand Prix test.  The top 6 teams come back to perform the Grand Prix Special test.  If a competitor is not a member of a team, the top eight riders will also be qualified to ride the Grand Prix Special.  At the end of those two competitions, the team medals will be awarded.  The top 18 are invited to participate in the Grand Prix Freestyle test.  The score of the Grand Prix Freestyle determines the individual medals. 

JUMPING:HH Azur Equestrian Life

The FEI Rules say Showjumping will consist of , “The First Individual Qualifying Competition; The Team Jumping Competition, on two (2) days with a possible jump-off. First and Second Rounds also counting as Second and Third Individual Qualifying Competitions;  The Final Individual Jumping Competition, consisting of one Final Competition run over two rounds (Round A & B) with a possible jump-off.”

What it means: Anyone who wants to compete as an individual starts in Round One (Individual qualifying round). The top 60 move on to the first round (qualifying) for the Team Competition held the next two days – this is actually the second round of the Individual Competition.  On the third day of competition, the Team Competition final is held.  The top eight teams compete.

This also counts as the third round qualifier for the Individuals. The scores of the Round One Individual qualifier and the Round One Team (Round Two Individual) qualifier are calculated and the top 45 individuals are asked to return to compete in the Team finals (Third Individual Qualifier).  Best individuals from Individual Qualifying Rounds One, Two and Three compete over two more courses (Round A and Round B) with the possibility of a jump-off to determine the  Individual medals.

So enjoy the Olympics and cheer on our USA Equestrian Team! For those of you who like to “judge with the judges,” I’ve linked the various dressage tests each discipline will be using for the 2016 Olympics.

Photo credits:
Schedule: Horse & Hound
Dressage – Eurodressage.com
Jumping – Equestrian Life
Eventing – BoydandSilvaMartin.com

Our 2016 Olympic Horses

Having kept up with the U.S.A. Equestrian Team Selections, I was surprised to find that not much is written about the horses who are going to Rio. So here are some basics about our “Team Equine”:

DRESSAGE

NAME:  RooseveltRoosevelt

BREED: Hanoverian

AGE: 14

SEX: Stallion

RIDER: Allison Brock

OWNER: Claudine & Fritz Kundrun


NAME: Verdades

BREED:  KWPN

AGE: 14

SEX: Stallion

RIDER: Laura Graves

OWNER: Graves


NAME: Dublet

BREED: Danish Warmblood

AGE: 13

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Kasey Perry-Glass

OWNER: Diane Perry


NAME: Legolas 92

BREED: Westphalian

AGE: 14

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Steffen Peters

OWNER: Four Winds Farm


NAME: Rosamund (DIRECT RESERVE)

BREED: Rheinlander

AGE:  9

SEX: Mare

RIDER: Steffen Peters

OWNER: Four Wind’s Farm


NAME: Doktor (TRAVELING RESERVE)

BREED: Oldenberg

AGE: 13

SEX:  Gelding

RIDER: Shelly Francis

OWNER:  Patricia Stempel



JUMPING

NAME: Barron

BREED: Belgian Warmblood

AGE: 12

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Lucy Davis

OWNER: Old Oak Farm


NAME: Voyeur

BREED: KWPN

AGE: 14

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Kent Farrington

OWNER: Amalaya Investment


NAME: Cortes ‘C’

BREED: Belgian Warmblood

AGE: 14

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Beezie Madden

OWNER: Abigail Wexner


NAME: HH AzurHH Azur Equestrian Life

BREED: Belgian Warmblood

AGE: 10

SEX: Mare

RIDER: McLain Ward

OWNER: Double H Farm and Francois Mathy



EVENTING

NAME: Fernhill Cubalawn

BREED: Holsteiner

AGE: 13

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Phillip Dutton

OWNER: Caroline Moran, Simon Roosevelt and Thomas Tierney


NAME: Mighty Nice (DIRECT RESERVE)

BREED: Irish Sport Horse

AGE: 12

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Phillip Dutton

OWNER: HND Group


NAME: Fernhill Fugitive (DIRECT RESERVE)

BREED: Irish Sport Horse

AGE: 11

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Phillip Dutton

OWNER:Ann Jones and Thomas Tierney


NAME: Veronica

BREED: KWPN

AGE: 14

SEX: Mare

RIDER: Lauren Kieffer

OWNER: Team Rebecca, LLC


NAME: Meadowbrook’s Scarlett (DIRECT RESERVE)

BREED: Thoroughbred Cross

AGE: 9

SEX: Mare

RIDER: Lauren Kieffer

OWNER: Marie Le Menestrel


NAME: Blackfoot MysteryBlackfoot Mystery Boydandsilvamartin

BREED: Thoroughbred

AGE: 12

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Boyd Martin

OWNER: Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate, LLC


NAME: Welcome Shadow (DIRECT RESERVE)

BREED: Thoroughbred Cross

AGE: 11

SEX: Mare

RIDER: Boyd Martin

OWNER: Gloria Callen


NAME: Loughan Glen

BREED: Irish Sport Horse

AGE: 13

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Clark Montgomery

OWNER: Holly and William Becker, Kathryn Kraft and Jessica Montgomery


NAME: Donner (TRAVELING RESERVE)

BREED: Thoroughbred

AGE: 13

SEX: Gelding

OWNER: Donner Syndicate, LLC


NAME: Super Sock’s BCF (RESERVE)

BREED: Irish Sport Horse

AGE: 10

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Matthew Brown

OWNER: Blossom Creek Foundation


NAME: Manoir de Carneville (RESERVE)

BREED: Selle Francais

AGE: 16

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Sinead Halpin

OWNER: Manoir de Carneville Syndicate, LLC


NAME: Simply Priceless (RESERVE)

BREED: Thoroughbred

AGE: 15

SEX: Gelding

RIDER: Elisa Wallace

OWNER: Simply Priceless Syndication, LLC



U.S. A. Horses By The Numbers:

SEX:  Stallions – 2      Mares – 4       Geldings – 16

BREED:  Thoroughbred/TB X – 5      Irish Sport Horse – 4       KWPN – 3

Belgian Warmblood – 3         Hanovarian – 1       Danish Warmblood – 1

Holsteiner – 1       Westphalian – 1       Rheinlander – 1        Oldenberg – 1

Selle Francais – 1



Photo credits:
Roosevelt – Eurodressage.com
HH Azur – Equestrian Life
Blackfoot Mystery – BoydandSilvaMartin.com