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September 2020 - Editor's Notes
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:34
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I reviewed the excellent article detailing the Woodside-area Horse Owners Association’s many good deeds early in the week of our deadline. At the end of that week, the story already needed the addition of WHOA!’s efforts to raise funds for large animal rescue efforts for victims of the CZU Lightning Complex Fires that were burning out of control in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.

Some of WHOA!’s past donations have supported the renovation and endowment fund for Folger Stable, location of our cover photo shoot. Folger Stable itself was donated in 1974 to the County of San Mateo, and today it is operated by the Chaparral Country Corporation for public boarding, lessons, trail rides, and camps. You can learn more at

The author of the article, our dressage columnist Nan Meek, filed the piece while standing by to help neighbors in her Montara area near Half Moon Bay. She had one extra horse in her field as we closed the issue.

Equestrians who had been ready to head off to a show -- finally -- were instead hauling their horses and others’ -- with the help of friends and strangers -- to safety. Again. Yet this time with the added complexity of coronavirus concerns.

Once again, social media is filled with equal amounts of solicitations of help and offers of assistance from far and wide as our equestrian community rises to the too familiar task of keeping as many as possible out of harm’s way.

Despite the miraculous efforts of our show organizers to continue holding competitions amid meticulous coronavirus protocols and fires, two big shows had to be cancelled. Following their “safety first” commitment at the outset of the truncated season, Blenheim EquiSports cancelled the All Seasons Summer Classic that was set for the third week of August after some positive COVID cases at the previous show. That sets up a 14-day window before September competitions begin. One consequence is moving the Sallie B. Wheeler USEF/USHJA National Hunter Breeding Championships to Friday, Sept. 18 during the International Jumping Festival.

In Northern California, it was the fires and unhealthy smokey air that caused Split Rock Sonoma International to cancel its “Bonus” week set to start Aug. 26. The organizers hoped it would be safe to hold the CSI2* the following week, Sept. 2-6.  

There’s the obvious hope that fires that had burned 771,000 acres in one week, as of August 21, are under control by the time this issue arrives. That people and their horses are able to escape unharmed. Otherwise, I am at a loss for words amid the latest wave of events and forever in awe and appreciation of those stepping up to help, again and again.

Kim F Miller, Editor
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Starz is a gorgeous arabian mare up for adoption at FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, CA.

She was privately owned in the past with one owner, who became ill and could no longer care for her. She was donated to the rescue. She is 15 years old and stands 15 hands high. Rides well under saddle, healthy and sound, appears to be a very nice mare. Adoption fee $800.

See Starz on our website,, under Horses For Adoption and follow the instructions for adoption.

September 2020 - Woodside Day of the Horse Celebration
Written by by Nan Meek
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:25
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2020: Let’s Ride This Out Together!

by Nan Meek

How do you continue a 16-year tradition that includes an art show, a costume-themed trail ride, and a family fun horse fair amidst pandemic restrictions and the long-term impact of devastating wildfires?

If you are the Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) you get creative with plans for the 2020 Woodside Day of the Horse celebration on October 9, 10, and 11. Why – because these events have a greater purpose than simply providing equestrian entertainment.


The Woodside-area Horse Owners Association (WHOA!) kicked off the 2020 Woodside Day of the Horse theme of “The Roaring 20s” at the Folger Estate Stable at Wunderlich Park, with WHOA! Horse Fair Committee Chair Kristina Chancholo and her husband Wilver; and horses owned by WHOA! Co-Chair Anne Van Camp and her husband Peter Van Vlasselaer: Hide and Seeker, and Prime Delivery. Photo: Debbie Hansen, Hansen Images

An advocacy organization, the mission of WHOA! is to preserve the fundamental role of horses in maintaining the rural character of the Town of Woodside and neighboring foothill communities, to enhance opportunities for equestrian activities, and to promote the enjoyment of horses in all their various roles.

There has never been a time when this mission has been more critical. Home-bound, stressed-out families are looking for ways to share quality family time, enjoy outdoor recreation, and find new educational experiences for their children. Now, those activities are even more essential in the aftermath of unprecedented wildfires.

This year, the events that have come to define Woodside Day of the Horse will be partly online and partly in person, observing the restrictions and respecting the safety of visitors and participants alike.

This year’s theme – The Roaring 20s – gives visitors to Woodside Day of the Horse events (online and in person) license to bring the bling to their own and their horses’ attire, whether kicking up their heels dancing the Charleston or just dressing the part for fun and fantasy.

Art of the Horse exhibition. Photo: Nan Meek

Friday, Oct. 9
Art of the Horse

Last year’s Art of the Horse exhibition drew a standing room only crowd, but this year’s restrictions on the size of public gatherings meant this exhibition needed to move online, to the Day of the Horse section of the WHOA! web site.

Bay Area artists are invited to submit up to three two-dimensional or three-dimensional artworks. Visitors to the website may vote for 12 of their favorite pieces, and the winning artwork will appear on the WHOA! 2021 Calendar. Complete information can be found on the WHOA! web site at on the Day of the Horse dropdown menu.

Art of the Horse celebrates the beauty of horses, provides a focus for artists and those who appreciate art, and creates a way to share that beauty beyond our barns and stables into the wider community in which our horses exist.

Nordic warrior goddesses on the trail. Photo: Nan Meek

Saturday, Oct. 10
Progressive Trail Ride

This is where creatively costumed riders come to play! It is as much fun for the spectators as it is for the riders, who travel the Town of Woodside trails dressed to fit the theme. This year, the theme is “The Roaring 20s” which could be interpreted as a flapper dress over skin tone tights, or an elaborately embroidered vintage western shirt, or a smartly tailored hacking jacket and billowing vintage breeches, to name just a few options.

This year’s ride will be socially distanced, with 6+ feet of space observed not only by trail riders but also by volunteers at ride stops. The route will be shortened, as well, to minimize its impact on local trails. Because large trailer staging areas are unavailable this year, ride organizers expect a smaller, more local group of riders than in previous years.

As well as simply enjoying one of the most beautiful trail ride locations on the map, riders take away a meaningful experience of the Woodside trails that informs the word they help spread to their friends, family, and neighbors. Call it personal networking, or free publicity, it helps maintain the community’s reputation as “Woodside is horse country”.

Farrier demo at Horse Fair. Photo: Nan Meek

Sunday, Oct. 11
Family Fun Horse Fair

Exciting plans are underway to combine a virtual Horse Fair online with a drive-through Horse Fair in person, at the Woodside Town Center where previous Horse Fairs have traditionally been held.

Online at the WHOA! web site, a variety of local equestrian organizations and businesses, which would normally have a booth at the Horse Fair, instead have a virtual Horse Fair booth in the form of videos that showcase their work.

In person, the drive-through Horse Fair takes the now-familiar graduation or birthday parade and just adds horses. Depending on the restrictions in effect on the day, Horse Fair organizers plan to feature ponies, horses, demonstrations, and photo opportunities that can be experienced from inside visitors’ vehicles.

Woodside Day of the Horse’s Family Fun Horse Fair is renowned for introducing ponies and horses to children and adults for the first time. Giving them a glimpse into the equestrian lifestyle fosters greater understanding of the role horses can and do hold in modern life, raising awareness of the benefits of horses to our community.

Funding the Future, Advancing the Mission

Donations made by WHOA! to support the equestrian community are made possible through funds raised during its iconic Woodside Day of the Horse celebration and through its generous sponsors. Donations such as the following make it possible to advance the mission of WHOA!

Wilver Chancholo with Hide and Seeker, owned by Peter Van Vlasselaer. Photo: Debbie Hansen, Hansen Images

Fundraising for Fire Rescue and Relief

WHOA! is supporting the work of The Woodside Community Foundation with a $10,000 donation and community outreach to raise funds for large animal rescue and relief due to the devastating CZU Lightning Complex Fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties. Those who can donate, please visit to help those who have lost so much.

Central Trail Bridge Project

Woodside’s Center Trail has been used by equestrians for more than 100 years, but in 2017 the combination of torrential rains and upstream natural debris washed out the equestrian bridge over Bear Gulch Creek. Center Trail is an essential link between northern and southern segments of the Woodside trail system, so equestrian organizations and individuals stepped up to make this project happen.

WHOA! is proud to have donated $25,000 of the $200,000+ needed to construct the new clear span bridge and trail segment that reopened in July.

WHOA! Horse Fair Committee Chair Kristina Chancholo with Prime Delivery, owned by WHOA! Co-Chair Anne Van Camp. Photo: Debbie Hansen, Hansen Images

Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award

A deep interest in the next generation of equestrians and a commitment to helping them achieve worthwhile goals brought WHOA! and the Mounted Patrol Foundations (MPF) together to each donate $5,000 toward the $10,000 Woodside-area Equestrian Merit Scholarship Award. This is especially relevant at a time when financial assistance with education expenses is even more important to the next generation of equestrians.

Homestead High School senior Rebecca Refaee was awarded this year’s scholarship based on her equestrian involvement, academic excellence, and contribution to the community.

Community Care during COVID

Enhancing opportunities for equestrian activities is at the heart of the mission of WHOA! When the COVID pandemic turned life upside down, WHOA! took steps to support the local equestrian community by donating  $1,500 to a local equestrian program. Those funds provided a financial bridge to a more permanent solution for the economic challenges created by this pandemic.

Looking Ahead

Despite the challenges of our times, WHOA! pledges to stay on course to continue its mission of preserving the fundamental role of horses and enhancing opportunities for equestrian activities by promoting the enjoyment of horses in their various roles. For more information about WHOA! or to make a donation to support its mission, please visit:
Sincere thanks to the Town of Woodside, the Woodside Community Foundation, and WHOA! sponsors, volunteers, community members and everyone who participates in Woodside Day of the Horse. Let’s ride this out together!

September 2020 - True Colors
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:20
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Keep colors true and leather soft with Farnam® Leather New® Total Care 2 in 1.

When you want your true colors to shine, look for a cleaner and conditioner that keeps all of your leather soft, supple and looking brand-new.

Farnam, your partner in horse care™, is pleased to introduce Leather New® Total Care 2 in 1, a convenient new leather cleaner and conditioner in one. The innovative formula safely cleans and conditions all colors of tack without stripping dye from dark leather or darkening light leathers. With no silicones, waxes or petroleum distillates, the formula even keeps stitching looking new.


Leather New® Total Care, with its avocado oil-based formula, simplifies the leather care routine by cleaning and nourishing in one simple step. The creamy, mess-free texture rubs in easily to clean away dulling dirt and grime and reveal the leather’s natural shine. Conditioners work deeply into the leather to restore moisture and elasticity to older leather and help break-in new tack.


The go-anywhere formula comes in a compact bottle that is small enough to fit in tack bags for quick and easy touch-ups. Leather New® Total Care is also versatile enough to clean and protect nearly any type or color of leather, from equestrian tack to boots and purses, to furniture and car seats.

Like all the nourishing Leather New® leather care products, Total Care 2 in 1 keeps leather looking new and feeling soft for a lifetime.  For even deeper cleaning and conditioning, look for our two-step system of Leather New® Easy-Polishing Glycerin Saddle Soap and Leather New® Deep Conditioner & Restorer.

For a limited time, horse owners can find $2 off instant savings coupons attached to the product in retail stores, or at

To learn more about Leather New® Total Care 2-in-1 and the complete line of Farnam® grooming products, visit Press release provided by Farnam.

Founded in 1946, Farnam Companies, Inc., has grown to become one of the most widely recognized names in the animal health products industry and has become one of the largest marketers of equine products in the country. No one knows horses better than Farnam. That’s why no one offers a more complete selection of horse care products. Farnam Horse Products serves both the pleasure horse and the performance horse markets with products for fly control, deworming, hoof and leg care, grooming, wound treatment and leather care, plus supplements. Leather New, Farnam and your partner in horse care are registered trademarks of Farnam Companies, Inc.

September 2020 - Horse People: Alana Segar
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:11
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Super senior steps into Interscholastic Equestrian Association Youth Advisor role.

by Kim F. Miller

Alana Segar could be called the “poster girl” for the Interscholastic Equestrian Association. Now on its 19th year and boasting 14,500 members, the IEA has a mission of creating quality, level-playing-field equestrian competition for riders in middle and high school and making equestrian sport accessible to kids whether or not they own their own horse.


Alana has never owned her own horse, but she’s been able to develop great horsemanship skills, experience and passion, as well as good friends, through IEA participation. “I started as soon as I could,” says Alana. That was sixth grade at the time and the association now encompasses 4th and 5th graders, too. Alana lives in the Peninsula area’s Los Altos and rides for the Woodside team that is one of two IEA teams based at the Stanford Red Barn.


Now a senior in high school, Alana is excited to be elected to the IEA Youth Advisory Board, representing Hunt Seat in Zone 10, which includes California and Nevada.

“The IEA Youth Board is invaluable to our organization,” states IEA Co-Founder and Executive Director Roxane Durant. “This program gives adult IEA members and leadership an avenue to hear the youth voice and to offer an opportunity for mentorship, volunteerism, and leadership growth to IEA youth members. We have found the Youth Board to be fantastic advocates for the IEA and equestrian sport and we look forward to another fun Youth Board year.”

The IEA Youth Board is structured with one student representative from each of the 11 Hunt Seat Zones, four representatives from the eight Western Regions, and two representatives from the 12 Dressage Regions. Each candidate for the 20/21 year opening submitted their application with a resume, photo, and letter of recommendation. After verifying each application, an election was held in each zone and the members of that zone elected their representative.

Alana is thrilled. She applied last year, too, and welcomes the chance to help out and weigh in on matters affecting competition in the Zone.

When she started IEA six years ago, there were no regional competitions, only the Zone championship. Significant IEA participation growth in the West accounts for that. Bigger shows mean more opportunity to make friends, but the competition can also “be a little nerve wracking,” Alana says of the pros and cons of that growth.

Being a role model to younger members and creating more team building opportunities within the zone are goals for her time on the Youth Board. “When I was younger, I looked up to the older kids so much because they were jumping and doing the Open division. I hope I can help make them love horses as much as I do.”

The first Youth Board meeting was set for late August. That’s when she and others will start getting a handle on what this year’s IEA season will look like in the midst of COVID realities. The Zone 10 season was shut down early last year, and opportunities to ride and train have been varied due to differing local restrictions on equestrian activity. Uncertainties will certainly continue through the season, but Alana is ready to make the most of however the season pans out.

Of IEA in general, Alana says, “I love being able to show without the huge cost and time commitment (of an Open show).” The IEA format requires host schools to provide the horses for all teams. Alana loves riding different horses all the time, in part because each points out different flaws to overcome in her riding. “I know I’m not good at riding fast horses, so when I pull one (in the draw) I have to remember to relax and slow down. It points out what I need to work on in my next lesson.”

In her final year of IEA competition, Alana will be contesting the highest level, Open, competition. She’s excited but not overly focused on ribbons. “I have personal goals about feeling proud of all my rounds: about taking whatever horse I am given and having a round that we can both be proud of.”

Serving on the Youth Board is a natural fit with Alana’s commitment to and enjoyment of community service. She has volunteered with the non-profit Animal Assisted Happiness in Sunnyvale for the last three or four years, helping special needs kids interact with barn yard animals.

The horsemanship savvy she’s gained through IEA is handy. She helped train some of the program’s Miniature horses, especially a few who were reluctant to load onto the trailer. “The last time they had to move locations, the owner had to walk one of the Minis by hand!” She studied Pat Parelli YouTube videos to help with the trailer loading and is now focused on helping the Minis stay fit and to treat their human visitors kindly.

Alana is also a member of her high school robotics team and led outreach efforts for it for two years.

All tolled she has gained experiences that should enable her to enjoy and make the most of college next year. Having an Interscholastic Horse Show Association or National Collegiate Equestrian Association team is a priority in Alana’s school search. She appreciates that her IEA experience has included presentations on how IEA compares to IHSA and NCEA competition, including volunteering at IHSA shows at the Stanford Red Barn for a hands-on look at the experience.

Math, economics and business are her likely academic pursuits for college. Thanks in large part to IEA, horses seem sure to be a passion for life.

September 2020 - So, You Want To be A Veterinarian?
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:02
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UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine offers sneak peak for disadvantaged students planning to embark on advanced degree.

The Summer Enrichment Program began over 25 years ago and has welcomed students from around the world. It is designed to provide disadvantaged students with activities that will enhance their veterinary school applications. The five-week intensive summer program accommodates 12-20 students. The program typically starts in June and applications are due in March. It’s designed for students pursuing their bachelor’s degree and those who recently graduated with a bachelor’s.


Students obtain some veterinary experience through rotations at the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital. Rotations may include Community Medicine, Small Animal Surgery, Equine Medicine, Equine Surgery, CAPE (Exotics), Behavior, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, and more. Additionally, professionals in, but not limited to, the veterinary medicine field present on their specialties and career paths.

SEP also provides opportunities to learn more about how to strengthen veterinary school applications through resume and personal statement workshops and GRE study sessions led by a current veterinary student. Students also participate in mock Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs).

The program runs for the entire five weeks, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Each day follows the same schedule, with morning clinical rotations and afternoon lectures, presentations, and/or workshops.


Students must be from a disadvantaged background* and upon the time of application, must:

  • Be at least 18 years or older
  • Have a minimum of one year of undergraduate biology and/or chemistry courses completed
  • Have a minimum 3.0 GPA in all sciences and cumulative coursework
  • Have some veterinary and/or animal-related experience

SEP is open to all students, regardless of residency status, including international. However, students who are or previously were enrolled in an international veterinary medicine program are not eligible for SEP. Disadvantages can includes, but are not limited to, educational, economic, social, or disability barriers.

Students are responsible for costs that may be associated with travel to/from Davis as well as room, board, and transportation for the duration of the program. It is highly recommended that students have a bicycle (with lock) for transportation around campus. At the end of the program, students receive a $500 stipend.

For more information, contact 530-752-1801 or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  with questions.

September 2020 - Respiratory Health
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:53
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Every breath horses take affects every move they make.

by Kim F. Miller

“Respiratory health is essential to performance,” stresses Dr. Emmanuelle Van Erck Westergren of a key focus at her Equine Sports Medicine Practice in Waterloo, Belgium.

The prominent veterinarian and thought leader spent 15 years engaged in equine health from a University-based perspective. She then left academia to apply that knowledge in private practice, immersing herself in a 360-degree perspective on horse management. Equine Sports Medicine Practice specializes in high performance horses and prioritizes prevention and career longevity.


“I want to help horses compete successfully over a whole season and a whole career,” Dr. Emmanuelle explains. Accomplishing that involves working with owners to evaluate and implement best management practices related to every aspect of their horse’s health. Respiratory function is critical to that, yet often under-appreciated and misunderstood. Worse, warning signs of trouble are easily missed or misinterpreted.


That’s why Dr. Emmanuelle welcomes the chance to speak on equine respiratory health, as she did here with journalist Kim F Miller.

Kim: How is the equine respiratory system different from a human’s?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Several factors contribute to the horse becoming deficient in oxygen even in sub-maximal levels of exercise. This state is called hypoxemia. In man, oxygen levels stay the same during all levels of exertion.

Kim: What are those factors?
Dr. Emmanuelle:

  1. Horses breathe only through their nose. There is no communication between the oral cavity and the airways. Think about exerting yourself while only breathing through your nose.
  2. Their narrow upper airway and the long distance from there into the lungs makes it that much harder to move the column of air in and out. It’s “dead space” because nothing happens to the oxygen during the trip. It is only transferred to the blood stream when it gets into the lungs.
  3. Horses breathe in and out at the same rate as their gait. As they canter or lope, they inhale in suspension, and exhale when their first foreleg hits the ground. Standardbred trotting horses have an advantage because, if they become oxygen deficient, they can take a big breath over several trot steps. A Thoroughbred racehorse is limited because they can’t compensate with a big breath over a few strides. They have to breathe in and out with their stride. As they become oxygen deficient, they have to breathe more often, which means shortening their stride.
  4. Horses bodies are over 60% muscle and muscles demand a lot of oxygen. By comparison, muscle mass for a “normal” 18-40-year-old man is 33% to 39%.
  5. Horses have a higher heart rate and that faster circulating blood means it doesn’t stay anywhere long enough to output all the oxygen it carries.

Kim: Will the horse’s ability to intake and use oxygen improve as his fitness improves?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Unfortunately, no. The horse’s muscle and heart function adapt and improve with conditioning, but the oxygen capacity of its respiratory system does not. Human performance is limited because we have small hearts. Horses have big hearts that get bigger and can pump more blood with conditioning, but their performance is still limited because the respiratory system can’t deliver enough oxygen to the muscles.
Because of all the limitations, even a little bit of inflammation or obstruction anywhere in the respiratory tract has a big impact on performance.

Kim: How often to you see sport horses with some type of respiratory disease?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Too often! We have tracked 400 cases in which horses were referred to our practice for poor performance.  Between 50% and 80% had some degree of respiratory disease. Eventers had 100% and international show jumpers had 85% at the high end, while driving and leisure horses were at the “low” end with 50% affected.  In a study published last fall, we found that 88% of 731 horses referred for poor performance had Inflammatory Airway Disease, a range of conditions on the milder end of the Equine Asthma Spectrum.

Kim: Do owners typically recognize poor performance issues as related to respiratory health?
Dr. Emmanuelle: No. Most of the complaints were very unspecific. “Feeling heavy” is a top complaint. Heavy breathing, breathlessness, lack of energy and slow recovery times are more common complaints. Owners seldom noted coughing or nasal discharge, which are more clear symptoms of respiratory problems.

Kim: What are some of the biggest risks to respiratory health?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Respiratory diseases fall into the category of Equine Asthma, a relatively new label in veterinary medicine. Some horses have a genetic predisposition for it, but otherwise it is an occupational disease. Environment, stresses of training and competition which can lower immunity, and mingling with other horses are all risk factors for Equine Asthma.

Kim: How do you figure out what’s causing the problem?
Dr. Emmanuelle: I look at the horse and his environment. We do measurements of dust levels and samples of contaminants. Some are easy to see. Have you seen someone sweep dust from the barn aisle, then stash that in the horse’s stall? Or seen mold stains on barn walls or ceilings?
A condition called Sick Building Syndrome exists in human medicine and it can apply to horses, too. They may not be coughing or having nasal discharge, but they clearly don’t feel well. That can often be linked to the amount of contaminants growing inside the building.
Horses were designed to live outside, but many horses spend 23 hours a day in the barn. Living inside, they’re exposed to 50 times more inhalable irritants! Even if they live outside, if they’re getting hay with contaminants, it’s still a problem.

Kim: Does weather affect the amount of contaminants to which horses are exposed?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Yes. Europe experienced particularly warm weather this year, and earlier in the spring than normal. That corresponds to a record number of respiratory cases, as did record pollen levels with record numbers of asthmatic patients.
A Canadian study found a correlation between the temperature and humidity and worsening symptoms of equine asthma. And global warming is having an effect because there is a shorter or non-existent period when there is a layer of frozen ground. That all affects the number of contaminants, including fungi, mold and bacteria found in soil, in which hay or straw is grown.

Kim: Fungi sounds especially nasty and dangerous.
Dr. Emmanuelle: It is. Fungi, which is the same as mold, can be very allergenic because it has proteins that can trigger a very strong reaction. It can become infectious and start to grow inside the horse’s airways. That process can produce toxins and irritations to the respiratory mucosa, which can ultimately affect the throat muscles. Fungi can also trigger inflammatory responses that manifest as rhinitis and sinusitis.
The role of fungi is not yet broadly recognized in the veterinary world. When a fungal infection is suspected or diagnosed, current treatments often include corticosteroids to address inflammation. Those further depress the immune system, enhancing the opportunity for fungal infection.
In our study of 731 horses referred for suspected respiratory issues and/or poor performance, 88% were found to have Inflammatory Airway Disease. Horses with fungal elements in their airway were 2.1 times as likely to have IAD.
In a study we did on sport horses, we detected a link between fungi in the airways and the likelihood of Exercised Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage: a horse is seven times more likely to bleed from the lungs, through the nose, during extreme exertion when they have fungi in the airways. In the United States, this could get a lot of attention as racetracks are in the process of phasing out Lasix, the medication that reduces EIPH.

Kim: That’s a lot of bad news. How can we protect our horses from these microscopic assailants?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Assess and improve your horse’s environment!

  1. Make sure there’s ventilation in the barn. That means circulation and renewal of the air. If there’s no renewal, moisture will accumulate and foster contaminant growth. Cobwebs indicate there isn’t enough ventilation because spiders won’t make them where there’s any breeze.
  2. Reduce dust: the fine dust that can be inhaled and lodge in the airways and deep in the lungs.
  3. Look for signs of mold on walls, everywhere and especially on walls near stored hay.
  4. Look at floor mats: specifically, what is growing between and underneath them. Urine accumulation can make it really dangerous and gross. It’s awful for horses and people. Stables don’t have to be sterile, but they do need to be clean.

Kim: What about hay & bedding?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Both play a big part in respiratory health. I strongly advise all my clients to get a Haygain Hay Steamer because it reduces up to 99% of the fine, respirable particles and kills fungi, bacteria and yeast in hay. Ample scientific studies demonstrate the benefits of killing the fungi/mold. It hasn’t been studied yet, but I think killing the bacteria has a positive impact on horses’ digestive function. I would like to look into that.
When it comes to preventative medicine, Haygain is something that speaks for itself over time. That’s why you don’t see many hay steamers for sale second-hand. Once horse owners adopt it, they don’t go back.
As for bedding, first consider flooring that can be disinfected. Then, wood shavings are better because wood contains terpene, which is a natural anti-septic. Cardboard and paper shavings are cleaner options. Straw, on the other hand, can foster bacteria and fungal growth.

Kim: What about homemade hay steamers?
Dr. Emmanuelle: Not an option. Temperatures need to reach the range of 212°F (100°C) to kill bacteria and fungi. Steaming at lower temperatures actually serves as an incubator for contaminants.
This happened with a dressage horse referred for coughing while exercising. Using an over-ground endoscope, we found he had an obstruction in his upper airway. Determined to help their horse, the owner had made their own hay steamer. What happened, though, was putting contaminated hay into what was, in effect, an incubator. It wound up culturing fungus to the highest level, to where the fungus produced neurotoxins that affected the muscle function and resulted in the obstruction.

Kim: How receptive are horse owners toward these preventative measures you recommend?
Dr. Emmanuelle:As a sports medicine practice, we work mostly with high level competitors. It has taken a while to educate our clients. As we treat horses year to year, if we are always treating the same problem, I like to review the management over going first for medications. As horses do better over the long term, the results speak for themselves.

Kim: Thank you!!

Dr. Emmanuelle Erck van Westergren. Photo: Wilhelm Westergren

September 2020 - Touchstones
Written by by Sophia Siegel
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:48
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Volunteering for Light Horse Rescue reminds young show jumper of the “whys” behind her riding.

by Sophia Siegel

I’ve spent a good portion of my life looking at the world from a horse’s back. I’ve competed across the U.S. and have strived to make a name for myself in the world of show jumping.  Yet our sport is truly unlike any other: no matter how hard we push ourselves, success is always dependent on the animal beneath us.


Now at the end of my junior career, I look back on my achievements with not only pride but with gratitude. As riders, we continually ask so much from our horses - to push themselves to the limits of their physical and mental capabilities, and they never stop giving.

Volunteering with the rescue horses at Into the Light Horse Rescue (ITL) in the Bay Area’s Portola Valley is my way to give back to the animals that have given me so much. Into the Light is a non-profit organization with a mission to “rescue, rehabilitate, re-home, and provide sanctuary to slaughter-bound horses.”

Horses can end up in the slaughter pipeline in any of several ways. Little J, who has now been with ITL for several years, was saved from auction after being sold from an Indian reservation in the northwestern United States. Because the U.S. has no jurisdiction in designated reservation areas, there are no laws prohibiting rounding up and selling wild horses to auction. Many Native American populations use the sale of Mustangs for auctioning as a great source of revenue. At these auctions, kill buyers are the predominant purchasers of wild horses because they can be challenging to train and work with. Although equine slaughterhouses are outlawed in the U.S., kill buyers easily truck the horses across the border to Mexico where they are legally slaughtered for meat.

Wisty & Prim

ITL saved four-year-olds Wisty and Prim from auction after being displaced from their wild habitats by cattle ranchers who lease large land plots from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to graze their livestock. Under these contracts, the BLM initially prohibits selling wild horses to auction, and so they are rounded up and kept in conditions considered horrific by me and many others. However, these contracts become void in a few short years, and the horses can then be sold at auction to kill buyers.

In recent years, many Mustangs have also been removed from their homes in the wild due to their populations exceeding their habitats’ carrying capacities. The increased numbers are due to a loss of predators in the area; as the population grows, it spreads onto residential and agricultural lands where the horses can legally be rounded up and sold. The ethical use of birth control shots on wild horse populations is widely debated, but animal rights activists continue to halt proceedings of this measure on a national scale.

Most rescues at ITL are adopted as weanlings or yearlings and spend years in the care of the rescue building confidence and strong foundations. They are emotionally nurtured to know they will never face abuse, neglect, or the slaughter pipeline ever again.

Adoption Is Ideal

The rescue is run by founder Reneit Opperman, who manages the day-to-day affairs of the Portola Valley location at Portola Pastures. Additionally, Trish Kusal Wilson directs the rescue in Colorado. These locations work in tandem; Wilson cares for our more senior horses whose owners gave them up for financial reasons, while Opperman takes on the newer and younger additions to the family.

By moving the young horses regularly between these two environments -- the open pastures of Colorado and the more intensive program in Portola Valley -- they are both physically and mentally groomed for adoption and lifelong partnership with a human. At ITL, matching a horse to a new owner is about love, connection, and mutual understanding between horse and rider. Potential adopters must meet the horses on-site and are encouraged to make multiple visits before a final decision is made.

Watching the horses build trust and transform into tame companions is the most gratifying experience for me. Volunteering with ITL has helped me rediscover why I ride and why I love my sport. It is a time for me to connect with the horses more profoundly and naturally. Because at the end of the day I don’t ride to win, or only to succeed in the show ring. I ride because I love the animals. My horse is my companion, my inspiration, my heart and my passion. Volunteering to me means time to spend with the horses that is pure and untinctured by competitiveness.

Author Sophia Siegel is an accomplished jumper rider. She trains with Harley and Olivia Brown and begins Stanford University this year.

September 2020 - Sophomore Season
Written by Photos: Cathrin Cammett Photography/Showfolio
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:34
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Desert International Horse Park set for an expanded fall and winter season.

Photos: Cathrin Cammett Photography/Showfolio

Since the acquisition of the horse park and its original circuits in August of last year, the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) management and team have been actively working towards a fun, distinctive, and easy horse show that exhibitors are excited to experience. Even though an extraordinary rainstorm created an unprecedented conclusion to Desert Circuit Week VIII in March, the 2020/21 season in the desert looks as exciting as ever.

New, Expanded Season

For those that want to spend more time in the desert, DIHP has expanded the number of circuits during the season to three: National Sunshine Series (Oct 27-Nov 8), Desert Holiday (Dec 3-20), and Desert Circuit (Jan 19-Mar 21). The newly created Desert Holiday takes place during the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas and each week will feature four days of showing with a Grand Prix each Sunday. In addition to the holiday fun, PCHA has approved these shows so that PCHA points will be earned by the participants.


Based on the feedback received during its inaugural season, DIHP aims to make each week of its season unique and packed with highlight classes for exhibitors at all levels.

National Sunshine Series:

  1. USHJA International Hunter Derby and USHJA National Hunter Derby: there will be two derbies during NSS this year, including a $30,000 USHJA International Derby in the Grand Prix Stadium during Week II.
  2. Week II $250,000 Grand Prix: Week I will feature a $75,000 Grand Prix and Week II will conclude with a $250,000 Grand Prix.
  3. R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship: NSS will host a R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship in the Grand Prix Stadium.
  4. PCHA Horsemanship Finals: DIHP will host the PCHA Jr/Am Horsemanship 2’9” Medal Finals during Week I of NSS. For this year only, they will also be hosting the PCHA Horsemanship Finals for 14 & Under, 18-34, and 35 & Over during Week II.
  5. 2’6”/2’9” Child/Adult Hunt and Go Derby and 2’/2’3” Hunter Derby
  6. NCEA Jr Medal Finals
  7. CPHA Style of Riding Jumper Championship - South

Desert Holiday:

  1. The weekend Grand Prix will be $25,000 for Week I and Week III and $40,000 for Week II.
  2. Three $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derbies and an additional $2,500 Rider Bonus awarded to the leading money earner from the derbies over the three weeks.
  3. Equitation Saturday highlighting big equitation classes in the Grand Prix Stadium during Week II.
  4. A Young Jumper Classic during Week III in the Grand Prix Stadium with prize money, no entry fees, and no stall fees.


Desert Circuit:

  1. Five weeks of FEI, including four 3* weeks and one 4* week. The 4* Week VIII will have a $250,000 Grand Prix. The pricing will be flat for all horses, regardless of whether it is the first, second, or third horse a rider enters and the flat fee has been significantly reduced.
  2. A $75,000 National Grand Prix during Weeks I, IV, and VII.
  3. Three USHJA International Hunter Derbies (Weeks II, IV, and VIII) and four USHJA National Hunter Derbies (Weeks I, III, V, and VI). The week IV and VIII Derbies will be $50,000 in the Grand Prix arena.
  4. Two weeks of WCHR during Week IV and Week VIII (To be confirmed)
  5. A new $10,000 Hunter Team Event during Week VII and a New Pro/Am Low Hunter Challenge.
  6. Returning favorites, including the Family Class, 2’3” Derby, 2’9” Derby, and Amateur/Pro Championship.

Press release provided by DIHP. For individual prize lists, COVID-19 protocols, and online entries/forms, visit the Desert International Horse Park website at

September 2020 - Book Review
Written by Reviewed by Lori Barron • by Michelle Holling-Brooks with photographs by AJ Morey
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:28
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The Horse Cure: True Stories

Reviewed by Lori Barron • by Michelle Holling-Brooks with photographs by AJ Morey

In hard times, we often turn to stories, both fictional and real, for inspiration. The tales in The Horse Cure: True Stories inspire readers in several ways, showing us humans’ capacity for change and horses’ power to heal.


Author Michelle Holling-Brooks, a certified equine therapy professional and founder of the non-profit Unbridled Change, shares individual stories of clients, both adults and children, who have come to UC to work on healing from trauma. She shows her personal connection to the work by including a chapter describing how horses helped her recover from the aftereffects of severe childhood illness.


The book also explains the kind of equine therapy in practice at UC, Equine-Partnered Psychotherapy and Coaching. The horses are not directed by those overseeing the sessions; rather, they choose on their own whether and how to interact with clients (along with a mental health professional, an equine professional is present to watch out for safety and note how the horse is reacting to the client). By interacting with horses, rarely riding them but sometimes working with them to complete a task, clients gain insights into both their own behaviors and feelings and those of others and learn to start altering old, counterproductive behavior patterns induced by trauma.

Both the clients and the horses in The Horse Cure are inspiring. The book clearly demonstrates how survivors of physical and sexual abuse and other painful experiences, dealing with aftereffects such as trust issues, anger management issues, or emotional shutdown, grow as a result of their work with the horses, who are attuned and sensitive healers. In one memorable session, Wiscy, a big piebald, sniffs the arms of adult client Brenda (names are changed for privacy), then repeatedly blocks her from returning to the therapists. Eventually, he allows her to do so, and she explains to them that she recently tried to slit her wrists and that Wiscy wouldn’t let her come back to them until she became willing to tell them what she’d done. The book gives many such examples of horses’ deep intuition.

The Horse Cure is a moving, informative read. It is clearly written and takes readers step by step through the therapy sessions so we can see how the clients’ transformations occur. Having some chapters describe how a client progresses over time, while others focus on a single session, is very helpful because it shows us how equine therapy changes people’s lives gradually but also provides breakthrough moments that, all by themselves, give clients important new insights. If you want to learn more about this therapy, or if you’d like to be uplifted by seeing the power of horses’ healing work, this is the book for you.

Reviewer Lori Barron is a lifelong horse lover from Sonoma whose greatest horseback adventure was riding a half-Arab stallion on a camping trip in Morocco many years ago.

Would you like to review a book for us? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a list of books we currently have in-house to review. If you’ve recently read a horse-related book on your own, and would like to submit a review, please e-mail us.

September 2020 - The Gallop: Shady Deals
Written by by Leone Equestrian Law
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:32
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How to spot the warning signs when horse shopping.

by Leone Equestrian Law

Q: I’m shopping for my first horse. I’ve been warned about sellers who misrepresent their sale horses—what types of situations should I be wary of during my search?

A: I’m glad that you’re being cautious during this process, because dishonest sales practices occur in the equine industry more than we care to admit.


Deceptive practices can occur at all levels of horse sales, and unfortunately, a first-time horse buyer can fall victim because he or she lacks experience in spotting the warning signs.

If you have not already enlisted the help of a knowledgeable professional, I highly recommend you take that step first. A trainer who knows your riding abilities and goals for your new horse can help you make a smart purchase and identify any potential red flags along the way. An experienced professional and competent trainer can help prevent first-time horse owners from letting their emotions and excitement interfere with sound decision-making when deciding upon which horse makes the smartest purchase. A professional can help you weigh the pros and cons with a potential new horse, answer your questions, and guide you into making a good decision.

As you get started with the horse-shopping process, here are a few situations that could set off alarm bells:

The Deal is Too Good to be True

You are scouting sales ads and discover what appears to be the perfect horse for you. A 16.2-hand gelding with show experience, auto changes, and a price way below your budget.

Seems like a great deal, right? It could very well be… or it could be a warning sign that maybe there is an issue with the horse that the seller is not disclosing. The horse may have a lameness issue, a behavioral problem, or be very difficult for an amateur to ride, among other things. If you are interested in trying the horse, make sure you conduct some investigation into the horse’s show record to see what the horse showed in, how the horse performed, and who rode him.

If considering a purchase of a horse with a sale price that seems too good to be true, consider obtaining the horse’s veterinary history, and have your veterinarian perform a thorough pre-purchase examination. It is possible that you have lucked out and the horse is being sold below purchase price for reasons unrelated to the horse’s quality or soundness.

Horse is Already Tacked Up When You Arrive

Since this is your first time purchasing a horse, try to arrive when the horse is taken from its stall or pasture, being groomed, and tacked up. Being present during these activities may provide a better sense of the horse’s attitude and suitability for you. If you arrive and the horse is already tacked up in the cross-ties, there is a chance the seller could be hiding a potential behavioral issue. Perhaps the horse does not want to be caught in the pasture, or kicks and bites when being groomed and tacked up.

On the other hand, a horse ready to be ridden when you arrive may not be a negative sign at all, but evidence of a motivated seller intent on having the horse properly turned out and ready for a potential buyer to ride.

If you are still interested in purchasing the horse after riding him, you can always request a second ride and arrange to be present when the horse is groomed and tacked up. If the horse is looking a bit sweaty or winded, it may be a sign that the seller lunged the horse before you arrived to “take the edge off.” If you like the horse after having tried him, observe the horse and its personality as it is being untacked and bathed or groomed.

Trouble with the Vet Check

A pre-purchase exam is a crucial part of the buying process. Typically, a buyer will hire a veterinarian who is unfamiliar with the horse, giving them the opportunity to perform an objective analysis. Try to avoid using the seller’s veterinarian to perform your pre-purchase exam. Using your own veterinarian will help ensure that the examination and evaluation are being performed by an independent professional with no pre-existing loyalty to the seller. If your veterinarian cannot perform the examination try to retain a well-qualified veterinarian that does not have any pre-existing relationship to the seller.

Also, when choosing a veterinarian for the pre-purchase exam, try to select a veterinarian that is familiar with the breed, sport, or use for which the horse is being purchased.

Providing the veterinarian with the horse’s intended use can be extremely helpful in terms of the information you can gain from the examination. It is vital to know whether the horse you want to purchase will be suitable to meet your needs.

Quick Decision-Making

Purchasing a horse, especially your first horse, should never be a rushed process. Taking your time and having your questions answered can help ensure that the horse is suitable and the right fit. Don’t let a seller try to talk you into making a quick decision. A seller may mention there is another buyer waiting to try the horse if you don’t, but they want to give you “first dibs.” Or maybe they say they have someone coming to look at the horse later that day or tomorrow, and that “this horse won’t be on the market for long!”

A seller may be pushing you to make a speedy decision to avoid having you ask for a vet check (don’t skip that!) or a second chance to try out the horse (advisable whenever possible). Never allow yourself to be pressured into making a hasty choice and buying your first horse without a veterinarian examination or a pre-purchase trial.

If you think that the horse is the right match for you, make every effort to take the horse on a short trial at your barn prior to purchase. This opportunity will enable you and your trainer to evaluate the horse in a different environment without the seller being present to control the situation. It is also advisable to enter into a written agreement before engaging in a trial period to ensure that both you and the seller clearly understand the terms of the trial. Items to consider putting into the agreement include length of the trial, responsibility for transport, limitations on what the horse may do on the trial, insurance coverage, and the timing of a pre-purchase examination if you want to purchase the horse after the trial period ends.

Key Takeaways

These are just some of the potential issues you’ll want to be aware of during your horse search—and sometimes, they can be deal breakers. The best thing you can do is enlist the help of a trusted professional or experienced horseman who can guide you along the way. Go with your instincts. If you get an unsettled feeling about a horse or a situation, it might be a sign to move on and look elsewhere. When you find a horse who seems like a great match, try to get to know the horse as well as you can before you make a decision during a trial period or a return visit to the seller’s barn. Schedule a pre-purchase exam with an objective veterinarian, and whatever you do, don’t feel rushed to make a quick decision. Best of luck!

Article provided by Leone Equestrian Law LLC. Led by Armand Leone, Jr., MD, JD, MBA, Leone Equestrian Law LLC provides legal services and consultation for equestrian professionals ranging from riders and trainers to owners and show managers in the FEI disciplines on a wide variety of issues. For more information, visit

The Gallop welcomes news, tips and photos. Contact Kim F. Miller at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

September 2020 - Hoof Care Basics
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:21
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Catching hoof issues early is key to successful treatment.

“No hoof, no horse.” It’s such a simple statement, but it holds so much truth. Your horse’s hooves provide the foundation for everything you two do together, so it’s important to know the horse hoof care that will keep them healthy and sound. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.

Some common horse hoof problems and hoof diseases can happen to the healthiest hooves, so it’s important to know what to watch out for, and what to do in case a problem arises.



How to spot it: Thrush is a common infection of the frog of the hoof and is usually most evident in the sulci (grooves) on either side of the frog and in the central section.  There are two main ways you’ll notice your horse may have thrush – sight and smell. Thrush causes black discharge to occur on and around the frog, and the discharge is accompanied by a strong, unpleasant odor.

How to treat it: There are many commercially available products to treat thrush, but you should work closely with your veterinarian and farrier to treat it and keep it from coming back.

Learn more:
Quarter Crack

How to spot it: A quarter crack is a vertical split that occurs in the side (quarter) of the hoof.  These cracks usually occur between the widest part of the hoof and the heel. Depending on the severity of the crack, the horse may or may not be lame.

How to treat it: Treatment varies according to severity.  Minor cracks may be resolved with increased maintenance and attention to balance, while serious separations may require stabilization. As a result, you should always work with your vet and hoof care professional to determine severity and treatment.

Learn more:
Hoof Bruise

How to spot it: A hoof bruise is similar to any other type of bruise – hemorrhage within tissues usually caused by blunt trauma, often times visible as discolored patches on the sole or hoof wall. Bruises can have a variety of causes, from acute trauma to concussive exercise to improper trimming/shoeing. Depending on the severity, a horse with a hoof bruise may be sensitive or even lame.

How to treat it: Like many other types of bruises, often the only treatment is rest, and possibly providing additional protection and cushioning through the use of shoes, pads, boots, or wraps. However, more serious problems can often be mistaken for simple bruises, so it’s important to work with your vet and farrier to evaluate your horse and set up a treatment plan.

Learn more:

Hoof Abscess

How to spot it: A hoof abscess is an infection inside the hoof. Horses suffering from an abscess will often be suddenly and severely lame, and some horses may have lameness that seems to “come and go.”

How to treat it: Some vets and farriers prefer to drain the abscess through the sole of the hoof, but every abscess (and every horse) is unique, so it’s best to involve your vet and farrier immediately.

Learn more:
White Line Disease

How to spot it: White line disease is an infection of the white line, (the junction of the hoof wall and sole), causing a progressive separation of the layers of the hoof wall, which can lead to structural unsoundness and lameness.

How to treat it: Treatment options depend on the severity, so it’s important to work closely with your vet and farrier.

Learn more:
Laminitis & Founder

How to spot it: Laminitis is an inflammation of the sensitive laminae of the hoof. Signs of laminitis include lameness, reluctance to bear weight, and warm feet with a strong pulse, among others.

How to treat it: Acute laminitis is a medical emergency, and you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Managing a horse with laminitis is complex, and requires a close working relationship with both your vet and farrier.

Learn more:
Navicular Syndrome

How to spot it: The term “navicular syndrome” is broadly used to describe any type of caudal/heel pain in the hoof.  Horses suffering from navicular pain will often exhibit lameness, especially under certain conditions such as working in tight, small circles or working on hard surfaces.

How to treat it: Because the term “navicular syndrome” is so widely used, the treatment options are vast and varied. Working with your vet and hoof care pro is essential to understanding the root cause, and deciding on a plan of action.

Learn more:

Article provided by SmartPak.

September 2020 - Cavallo Q&A
Written by by Carole Herder
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:14
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Return to riding after laminitis.

by Carole Herder

Q: Hi Carole, my horse was just diagnosed with laminitis. I have worked with my veterinarian to develop a plan--and we are ordering new Cavallo hoof boots to help during recovery. Still, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Will I be able to ride again soon without causing him pain? I need a dose of hope. 
Cavallo President Carole Herder shares her thoughts….


A: Healing from laminitis can be a tough journey. You’ll find that recovery isn’t always a straight trajectory, but a combination of pieces. You’ll see progress and stagnation, combined. Overall, your horse will feel more comfortable in hoof boots and we hope that he heals as soon as possible. At Cavallo (, we often receive stories about how horses have benefited after wearing boots during and after laminitis diagnoses. Most recently, this one came in. You’ll see, you are not alone.

Debs Parton and Luna

Here’s the real-life story of Luna, who became a barefoot, booted, rideable horse after her first bout of laminitis. Luna’s owner, Debs Parton, looked for solutions to help her horse return to the trail rides they enjoyed together. The 15-year-old bay roan Criollo Gaucho pony (imported from South America) first developed laminitis in August and her owner was able to ride about five months later. I hope this provides you with additional hope and commitment to the process. Parton took careful notes during her horse’s recovery and provided this timeline. Read on to see what she did and how Luna progressed after her laminitic onset.
Luna contracted laminitis after the weather was dry then suddenly shifted to rain. The mare lived outside all the time and was slightly overweight. When she looked uncomfortable, Parton called the veterinarian. Radiographs showed pedal bone rotation with just 4 mm clearance from the inside of her sole on her left front hoof. This was the only affected foot. Her metal horseshoes were removed and a gel pad was molded and fit to her left front hoof—attached with vet wrap and tape. The veterinarian recommended constant stall rest with soft bedding for 12 weeks. After that time, she showed little improvement and was stiffening in her hindquarters.
Parton read Founder – Prevention & Cure by Jaime Jackson, a respected author on this subject. She believed in the natural methods discussed and created a plan to implement what she read.
With all bandages removed and her hoof crumbling, Luna was on Bute twice daily. Her digital pulses still hammered.
Parton created a rubber-matted turnout area so that Luna could move more freely and at her own pace. Luna could see the outside world and interact with her environment. This immediately changed the horse’s demeanor—it seemed better for her mental well being.
Parton began soaking the affected foot in salt water for 10 minutes twice daily at feeding time. Luna was eating hay, oats, barley, and a hoof supplement. She also brushed vigorously around the horse’s fetlock area to help increase blood circulation. Parton made sure she had no manufactured foods and had a salt lick available. She also continued soaking Luna’s hoof until the end of November. However, Parton did stop Bute treatments and only administered when digital pulses elevated or if Luna looked uncomfortable.
November (week one):
Luna was allowed access to the rubber mat area as well as the larger gravel pen. She appeared slightly sore again after walking on the gravel and pebbles. Parton put down old carpets on the gravel area so that Luna could walk around in a larger area.
November (week two and three):
Luna walked in hand around a two-acre field every night to help loosen her back and hindquarters. She was allowed to hand graze a little. Soon, she was lead in circles and serpentines and during short trotting sessions. Luna seemed more confident using her left hoof as the days went on.
November (week four):
Luna stepped out well on soft ground in the field when led. She looked almost sound but was still sore on the gravel areas and when turning sharply. Parton took her on walks down the lane and Luna walked well when traveling in straight lines. She was still sore when traveling on stone. Parton began researching hoof boots that would be good during Luna’s recovery and later, for riding.

Lunain boots

December (week one):
Luna was turned out in a large paddock for 10 minutes each morning and evening. She was free to move as she chose. Luna galloped through the field and bucked, reared and pranced. Her daily walks down the lane continued, too. This turnout time was a turning point. Finally, Parton felt hope that there was a chance for a full recovery.
December (week two):
Parton reached out to Cavallo Hoof Boots and immediately received a response. She learned how to measure Luna for new boots for her front hooves. Parton also talked with her farrier, who agreed that trying hoof boots and not hot-shoeing was a good idea.
The farrier helped reduce Luna’s heel and only filed the edges of her feet -- leaving the soles intact. The left sole had been convex from the pressure of the pedal bone. Now, it appeared flat and nearly normal. Luna continued on hoof supplements.
Luna needed a size three in the Cavallo Hoof Boots. Parton purchased a pair and the gel pad inserts. The boots arrived at the end of week two.

December (week three):
The Cavallo Hoof Boots fit well. At first, Parton outfitted Luna with a sock beneath the boot to avoid any rubs as the horse got used to the fit. The sole on her left foot now appeared concave and the frog was healthier than before. The bars on the sole were well defined. Growth rings from the coronet band downwards were visible and appeared healthy over a quarter way down the hoof. Hoof walls were strong/robust and appeared much better than the crumbling foot in October.
December 22 and 23:
Parton allowed her to walk around for 10 minutes in the new boots. Luna did not seem bothered by the new feel.
December 24:
Luna and Parton went for an in-hand walk along the lane. Luna walked out far more confidently than when barefoot and looked quite comfortable.

Luna’s laminitis radiograph

December 25:
Parton put a saddle on Luna to get her used to the feeling once again. The horse hadn’t been ridden since August. Luna was unconcerned at this new element and was calm and comfortable.
Parton stepped into the saddle once the horse and rider team returned to the paddock after a 10-minute, in-hand walk. Parton says that she sat quietly and allowed Luna to wander about with no rein or head contact at all. Luna was accepting.
December 26:
Again, Luna was tacked up for a gentle ride down the lane where she had been hand-walked. She walked out confidently and was sound. Parton was elated.
Between December 27 and January 2:
Luna had three more rides—each one with increasing distance and working up to a two-mile trip. Luna continued to walk out comfortably and with confidence. In addition to riding, Parton continued in-hand walks to keep her moving and allowed her twice daily turnout time in a field. Keeping her moving seemed paramount to her recovery and provided blood circulation to the hoof.
Luna was on the”road to recovery.” Parton recommends that anyone try Cavallo Boots instead of metal shoeing for a horse who is recovering from laminitis. “Why would you want to put any trauma on a recovering hoof capsule?” she asks. “The padded sole in the Cavallo boots really helps, too. It allows the foot to breathe, expand, and retract with hot and cold. That’s what the foot is designed to do by mother nature.”
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Cavallo President Carole Herder is the author of the #1 International Bestseller, There Are No Horseshoes in Heaven, and the newly released Hoofprints on The Journey. She has been involved in horse health since 1993. Her company, Cavallo Horse & Rider Inc., develops, manufactures, and distributes horse products in 26 countries. Herder designed and developed Cavallo Hoof Boots and Total Comfort System Saddle Pads. She presents training sessions around the world to teach the benefits of keeping horses in a natural state. Herder is an honored recipient of the Royal Bank of Canada Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She is a member of the Women’s Presidents Organization, supporting female entrepreneurs in every industry. Visit to learn about the full line of Cavallo Hoof Boots. Call 877-818-0037 from the USA or Canada or call direct, 604-740-0037.


September 2020 - Back To School
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:09
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Feather River College offers formal preparation for careers in the horse world.

by Kim F. Miller

The schools of hands-on experience and hard knocks are the pathways to careers in equestrian sports for many. But not for all. There are many benefits to having a formal education for those seeking a career involving horses, says Crystal Anderson, the Agriculture Equine program coordinator at Feather River College.

Equine science academic tracks exist at universities around the country, typically within agriculture and animal science programs. And, there are several associate’s (two year) or certificate programs at schools in California.


Located in the Plumas County town of Quincy, between Chico and Reno, Feather River is unique as a community college that offers a four-year Equine Science bachelor program. This became a reality in 2016, after a small number of community colleges received permission to offer bachelor’s degrees. FRC was the only community college to submit a proposal for an Agriculture-based program, including a degree program for equine and ranch management. Students choose between an equine or cattle management emphasis.


At presstime, Feather River was planning to start a hybrid schedule of online and in-person classes on August 24. While COVID-19 has caused many schools to go only or mostly online, Feather River’s remote location and relatively low coronavirus cases in the region enabled it to open as planned. “Lectures are online and riding and training classes are still face to face,” Crystal explains. “That is pretty hard to teach online.” Following all safety protocols, of course.

Interest and enrollment in all levels of the equine science academic track have risen steadily and all classes involving horses are full this fall, she reports.

There are several benefits of getting a formal education before a career in the horse world, Crystal asserts. “You can prepare yourself for whatever may get thrown at you and it can make you a more well-rounded person.” Along with courses and hands-on experience in riding, training, care and husbandry, the Feather River program includes business classes that equip graduates to apply their talents, knowledge and passion in a financially viable way.

Networking opportunities are another benefit, she says. “Your classmates become part of your network of professionals, giving you a broad base of contacts. Education is not just about taking a class and developing skills. It’s also about developing a future career and professional relationships.”  

From a prospective employer’s perspective, the bachelor’s degree “shows me they’ve been able to complete the more advanced program: that they know how to jump through the hoops needed to earn their degree. It shows they are well-rounded people who can accomplish goals.”

Extensive Experience Not Required

All of Feather River’s equine programs are suitable for a range of experience levels. The application process does not include a minimum riding skills requirement because riding instruction is part of the curriculum. “We get students from a huge range of backgrounds,” Crystal explains. About half bring their own horse to campus, and the school maintains horses for those who don’t bring their own.

Western and ranch riding styles dominate over english, but the training basics are applicable for both genres.

Sarah Kibler was thrilled to visit the Feather River campus as a high school student considering her college options. She entered pursuing an associate’s degree in Equine Science and now, in her sophomore year, hopes to be accepted into the bachelor’s program. She lives in the Sacramento area’s Vacaville, where she grew up with a diverse equestrian background centered on County Fair competitions. Western showmanship, pleasure, hunter hack and gymkhana events are all part of her experience.

“I knew in high school that I wanted to do something with horses as a career,” Sarah explains. “But I was really uncertain how I would make a living at it. People usually say ‘trainer’ or ‘veterinarian,’ right? I really wanted to understand what the career paths are. Now I’ve learned there are so many more jobs to choose from.”

Sarah hopes to manage her own stable and boarding facility, ideally with a breeding component. What she’s learning at Feather River is an ideal preparation. She’s excited about how her own horse, a Morgan cross, is improving with the training skills she’s already picked up. Better responsiveness to her aids and moving in a more flexible, athletic frame are among the improvements. “He has a foundation of training on him now that wasn’t there before.”

A very welcoming, friendly environment from professors and fellow students is equally important part of Feather River experience, Sarah says. From the moment she set foot on the beautiful campus, “I knew this was where I should be.”

September 2020 - Grazing the Metabolic Horse
Written by by Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:01
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Grass isn’t what it used to be.

by Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD

Eating grass seems like the most natural thing in the world for a horse, but the grass in managed pastures bears little resemblance to what is available to a feral horse. The other part of the scenario that is very different, is that the feral horse will often travel an average of 20 miles a day — much more exercise than domesticated horses get.


Exercise is the best way to keep insulin and glucose in good control. Otherwise, tight restriction of sugar and starch intake to no more than 10% of the diet is needed.


Spring growths of grass at their peak almost invariably exceed that limit. They are extremely dangerous for any horse with problems in controlling insulin. Areas that experience considerable regrowth in the fall after high summer heat, may have a similar high sugar scenario at that time.

Also dangerous is regrowth after a period of drought. Stressed grasses in general, whether from drought, high heat, cold, or poor nutrient availability, can also have high levels of sugars particularly in the lower portions of the plant, which are likely to be consumed in over-grazed pastures.

Mature stands of grass which have gone to seed will have the lowest levels of sugar and starch, but even this fluctuates. In the warm months, sugars are considerably higher in late afternoon than early morning. However, the onset of cool nights (below 40oF) means even early-morning grazing is risky.

Limiting your horse’s time on pasture won’t necessarily lower the risk. Research has shown that horses that have their grazing time restricted will compensate by consuming up to three times as much as usual in the time they do spend on grass.

The bottom line is that allowing metabolic horses to graze is always Russian roulette. Turnout for exercise, but with a muzzle that completely prevents grazing, is the safest alternative. Because exercise activates muscle and liver glucose uptake by mechanisms that do not require insulin, allowing 15 to 20 minutes free grazing after moderate (trotting) to heavy exercise sessions is also safe.

For those who insist on pushing their luck, allowing grazing (hopefully with at least a partially sealed muzzle) on mature stands of grass that have already dropped their seed is the least risky.

Contrary to what you might think, dormant pastures in winter are not safe. The lower portions of these plants are extremely high in sugar. This is how the cells keep from freezing.

Depending on how severely affected they are, the weather in any given year, how much they move around on pasture, you may get away with grazing your metabolic horse for a year or two — but sooner or later it will catch up with them. It’s just not worth the risk.

About ECIR Group Inc.
Started in 1999, the ECIR Group is the largest field-trial database for PPID and EMS in the world and provides the latest research, diagnosis, and treatment information, in addition to dietary recommendations for horses with these conditions. Even universities do not and cannot compile and follow long term as many in-depth case histories of PPID/EMS  horses as the ECIR Group.
In 2013 the Equine Cushing’s and Insulin Resistance Group Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation, was approved as a 501(c)3 public charity. Tax deductible contributions and grants support ongoing research, education, and awareness of Equine Cushing’s Disease/PPID and EMS.
THE MISSION of the ECIR Group Inc. is to improve the welfare of equines with metabolic disorders via a unique interface between basic research and real-life clinical experience. Prevention of laminitis is the ultimate goal. The ECIR Group serves the scientific community, practicing clinicians, and owners by focusing on investigations most likely to quickly, immediately, and significantly benefit the welfare of the horse.

September 2020 - Calming Influences
Written by by Barbara H. Wright
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:51
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Equine Stress Control Therapy differs from training and other relaxation techniques.

by Barbara H. Wright

Horse training and all other equine relaxation techniques treat the body, not the horse’s brain. ESCT is the only equine psychotherapy and the only treatment method to calm horses using the brain as the primary treatment target. 

This is achieved with neural reprocessing. This makes all the difference in the world in achieving quick and lasting results in calming nervous, anxious and spooky horses. Body changes, through operant conditioning, can take many tries and a great deal of time to achieve results. However, combining operant conditioning with ESCT creates a new treatment modality, one that accelerates the learning process and envelopes the horse in a therapeutic safety net at the same time. Behavior modification usually takes as long as operant conditioning, in most cases. 

Again, with ESCT the behavior modification process is sped up. By combining ESCT with traditional training methods, both body and mind in the horse are trained to maximum benefit.

Massage, acupressure, acupuncture and other bodywork does not neurally reprocess the brain as does ESCT. They are wonderful methods for relaxing horses temporarily and assisting them through an issue. But, they do not change the fearful memory or remove the anxiety like ESCT, which is then reactivated when the treatment is over. By using such relaxation techniques with ESCT, behavior changes take place in a calm manner. The horse learns in a relaxed state and is later able to engage his awareness of new situations and objects in the same relaxed way.

You are encouraged to use ESCT along with the methods already working for you and to experiment with combining it with other treatments in ways that are particularly beneficial to each horse. Horses are eloquent and straightforward with their body language and you will have no problem understanding what he likes least and best. I emphasize that ESCT is a process and that means a work in progress.

What is Neural Reprocessing with ESCT?

Equine Stress Control Therapy (ESCT) is effective in horses due to neural reprocessing of the horse’s brain circuitry using the ability of consciousness itself to create change. This harkens back to quantum physics and the idea that our minds or a horse’s mind are not the only instruments that can understand information and/or meaning. Our bodies can also understand information and meaning at the physical cellular level. 

Meaning is both physical and mental in nature because meaning carries thought and information. In humans, both thought and information are carried. We assume horses do not think, so their meaning is carried physically, not mentally as thought as words. (I personally do not feel that horses can’t think as they can make choices and know better than me how to be a horse). 

Thought and information are precursors to the physical world, as worked out by the great physicist David J. Bohm and described in his book, Wholeness and the Implicate Order. This explains why healing in animals in therapeutic settings without the language link is possible. Animals do not need to speak to understand the meaning of the deeper reality, the implicate order, out of which matter arises, forms into life and becomes sentient and happy to be alive and well. They dwell in the implicate order as we all do and benefit from the intelligence and information offered by the unseen as it transforms itself into molecular existence, then cellular existence, then in-body sensation of life experienced.

“The active use of information by electrons and, indeed all subatomic particles, indicates that the ability to respond to meaning is not only a characteristic of consciousness but of all matter,” said Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe.

So now, when we deal with neural reprocessing with ESCT, we have a better understanding of why this intelligence gathering and reorganizing can take place. The electrons that jump across the empty space between synapses on neural cells are taking that “leap of faith” because they are armed with information that you, as the healer or therapist, guide with your technique and intention to heal. You cannot take yourself out of the process, nor can the object of your treatment, be it horse or humans. In the experiment, at the basic level of “stuff” as we know it, the observer is the observed.

With ESCT, one deals with brain chemistry changes in the horse brought on by the gentle neural reprocessing created during therapy. The eye movement and tapping transmit electrical signals to the brain via the bony structures, fascia, muscles and optic nerve, depending on which approach is used. The knitting together continues after therapy during integration. Fear-based reactions are replaced with responses.
While horses don’t have the frontal cortex of humans, they still develop the fear cycle the same way humans do as we both share amygdala driven responses. We know that with spooky horses, the scan and evaluate capability is erased or greatly diminished and the automatic startle response is highly activated. ESCT creates a more benevolent body chemistry that makes it easier for the horse to calm itself, allowing his brain to lay down new neural pathways by making choices that encourage him to “stay and play” instead of “run away.”

Author Barbara K Wright is the founder of Harmony Horseworks, based in Cottonwood, AZ. For more information, visit

September 2020 - Horse People: Zoie Noelle Brogdon
Written by by Winter Hoffman. Originally posted by reprinted with permission.
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:40
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Young rider on the road to show jumping success and becoming a role model for equestrians of color.

by Winter Hoffman. Originally posted by reprinted with permission.

Fifteen-year-old Zoie Noelle Brogdon is one of the more advanced riders to come out of the Thousand Oaks, California equestrian program Riders United. It is an offshoot of the Compton Junior Posse, the former inner-city riding group designed to introduce urban youth to the world of horses. Riders United is one of only a few in the U.S. designed to provide Black and minority riders of all ages from many different socioeconomic backgrounds the educational groundwork of horsemanship and give opportunities for riders to compete in the show ring.

Relying on monetary and in-kind donations from generous supporters, Director Victoria Faerber tirelessly organizes the day-to-day operating logistics at the Thousand Oaks location, while former CJP member Nathan Williams-Bonner heads up the Temecula branch of the organization. (See Be The Change, California Riding Magazine July 2020 issue).

Fellow Californian, Olympian Will Simpson, was inspired by the cause in 2008, and stepped up to donate his time to train the riders, which currently range in age from 12 to 25. Brogdon had the opportunity to clinic with Simpson four years ago and the Olympian saw a spark in the young rider. With the support of Meadow Grove Farm and the family of Zazou Hoffman, Brogdon picked up the ride on their 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding Emilion in 2018.

(Editor’s Note: the author is Zazou’s mother, Winter, who previously volunteered with and loaned horses to the Compton Junior Posse).

Together, they have seen great success in the 1.00-1.10m Jumper divisions over the past several years as she gains more mileage in the saddle.

As a Phelps Sports contributing columnist, Winter Hoffman sat down with Brogdon to learn more about her riding development, her future goals and how she feels our sport can be made more easily accessible to riders of all backgrounds.

Compton Jr. Posse rider Zoie Brogdon competing at the Del Mar International. Photo: JXB Photography

Winter: How were you introduced to riding?
Zoie: My first time on a horse was when I was about five years old at Griffith Park, but I didn’t really start riding horses seriously when I was young. I did other extracurricular activities, such as soccer, gymnastics and track. I was on the LA Jets Track Team for a few years and I ran the 4×100 meter and the 4x 400 meters.

I actually began taking lessons when I was around 9 at a summer camp called Silver Spurs in Burbank, California. My mother worked in Burbank at the time, and out of convenience, she signed me up for two weeks. On the first day when she picked me up from camp the owner of Silver Spurs told my mom with a smile on her face, “This is Zoie’s sport — you’re in trouble now.” I guess the owner saw my connection to horses back then but I don’t think my mom knew what this journey was going to look like.

Winter: How did you come to have a passion for the sport?
Zoie: Silver Spurs was my introduction to horseback riding. My mom was told that I would need to go somewhere else if I wanted to learn how to compete. She read about the Compton Jr. Posse online and enrolled me in their summer camp for four weeks. At CJP, they taught me more than just how to properly sit on a horse, but how to truly ride one. I learned horsemanship, how to clean stalls, groom a horse, the anatomy of a horse, horse markings, how to tack a horse, you name it. We even took a field trip to the Longines Masters in Los Angeles.

The more I learned about the horse world, the more I wanted to be a part of it. Being at CJP is where my passion for horses ignited. One of the highlights I had at CJP was getting the opportunity to appear in Beyonce’s video Daddy Lessons, which was on her historic “Lemonade” album. They approached CJP needing a young girl who knew how to ride horses. I was picked for the part, but although I appear in various parts, sadly, the actual riding footage was cut from the video.  

Winter: Growing up, what challenges did you face as a Black rider?
Zoie: The challenge of being a rider of color is that I don’t have many other riders of color to look to for inspiration. African-American girls have Serena Williams to look up to in tennis, and Simone Biles in gymnastics. I’d love to rise to the highest levels of the equestrian sport so that African-American girls can look to me for inspiration and know that it’s not impossible.  

Winter: You currently train at Riders United with Victoria Faerber and Olympian Will Simpson donates his time to coach you. Can you tell us how this came about, the high points and what you have learned from Victoria and Will?
Zoie: I first met Will Simpson at CJP and he became a very prominent part of my riding career. Although Victoria was our trainer, Will taught many clinics for the show team at CJP. After a couple of years with CJP, I was asked if I wanted to compete at an A-rated show. It was a West Palms Events show at the LAEC. Will came to the competition and warmed up me and Mt. Colbrook, the horse I was riding, that day. I did opportunity classes and won several blue ribbons. This was definitely a high point for me.

When CJP closed, Victoria started Riders United, and Will continues to give us lessons when he has free time. Victoria has taught me the basics of riding, but most importantly, she has taught me horsemanship and how to take care of my horse and keep him healthy and happy. Victoria has seen the best and the worst of me as I’ve matured into being a teen, and she has helped me through these difficult years with a horse by my side.

Victoria has a special way of bringing out the best in a rider and a horse. Now that I’ve advanced from opportunity classes to 1.10m classes, Will’s lessons have been particularly insightful. Each lesson I learn something new that truly helps get the job done.

Winter: What opportunities has Riders United opened up for you that you may not have had if you had never joined the program?
Zoie: Riders United has opened doors for me. Through Riders United, I have been able to participate in clinics from people like the master horseman Bernie Traurig and Olympic gold medalist Will Simpson. I have also been able to participate at A-rated shows like West Palms Events and Nilforushan Equisport Events. With these opportunities, I have been able to meet many professional riders who I consider mentors.  

Winter: Why do you feel that programs like CJP or Riders United are so crucial to our sport and our world?
Zoie: Programs like CJP and Riders United are crucial to our sport because they allow kids who look like me to be exposed to and participate in a sport they would have never known existed.  If it wasn’t for CJP, I would never have known anything about show jumping, equitation or dressage. Programs like these are crucial to our world because they help bridge different cultures.

Winter: What steps do you feel the equestrian community can take to be more welcoming and inclusive of riders from various backgrounds?
Zoie: Unfortunately, this sport is a very expensive sport, so it can be cost prohibitive for many to participate. I feel that if we could develop a sponsorship program, we could make the sport more accessible and more affordable to all people from different backgrounds. Of course, supporting programs like Riders United is another way for the equestrian community to be more welcoming and inclusive of riders from various backgrounds. We sincerely appreciate the used riding clothes and tack that are often donated.
However, receiving funding can be used to offset so many show expenses such as the cost of a groomer so we aren’t so fatigued at shows. Or the cost of a tent, table, and chairs so we have a place in the shade to eat lunch comfortably and regroup during our downtime. These things may sound insignificant, but they will help the riders feel like they belong and allow them time to interact with other riders.

Winter: You must have a very supportive family, please tell us about them.
Zoie: My mother is my biggest cheerleader! She takes me out to the barn every weekend and is my groom when we are at shows. She makes sure I’m on time for my classes and that my boots are shined before each competition. She really does it all! My dad, although admittedly a little afraid of horses, has grown to love my horse, and is always making sure my winning rounds are on Facebook to show me off. I am really appreciative to have such wonderful parents to support me in all my endeavors.

Winter: What are you planning to do after you graduate high school?
Zoie: My plan after I graduate from high school is to attend college, but I don’t know where exactly.  It would be great to go to a college that is out-of-state, but then I probably wouldn’t be able to bring my horse. Right now I think I would like to study veterinary medicine. But who knows, that could change by the time I go to college.

Winter: Do you think you will continue to ride while attending college? Have you considered colleges with NCEA or IHSA equestrian teams?
Zoie: I would love to ride while attending college. My only hope is that if I do, it won’t interfere with my education. In a perfect world, I would go to college during the week and train and go to shows on the weekends. Colleges with NCEA or IHSA equestrian teams are definitely something I have thought about, especially because they compete in equitation.  As a jumper, competing in equitation would help my riding get stronger.

Winter: Talk to us about your horse Emilion.
Zoie: Emilion is my horse’s show name. His barn name is Nijinsky. My trainer named him Nijinsky after a famous race horse, but I call him “Ninja” for short. At home, Ninja is goofy, playful, and energetic – just like me.  He loves to listen to all kinds of music and go on trail rides.  Ninja is also a very sweet horse. There are other horses in the barn that have tried to bite him when he walks past them, but Ninja wouldn’t hurt a fly. At a show, Ninja is determined to win – just like me. He gets mad if he hits a rail and he saves me when I don’t approach a fence quite right. He loves his horse treats after every lesson and he loves to be scratched on the face with a curry comb of all things. We have been partners for about two years now and I’ve loved every minute of it!

Winter: What advice do you have for ambitious young riders?
Zoie: Have fun and build a good relationship with your horse. Ninja and I are best friends, and we goof around all the time. Ninja has quite a personality, and he loves hip-hop and rap music. Because of our bond, we have a great connection in the arena. Also, be open to advice offered from other seasoned riders. I’ve been very fortunate to have many supporters in the equestrian community who have helped me along the way – Kenneth Vinther, Mark Watring, Edgar Pagan, Mike Nielson, and Cindy Postel to name a few. 

Winter: What do you think it takes for a rider to get that “competitive spark?”
Zoie: This is what Kobe Bryant called the “Mamba” mentality. It’s a mindset and I don’t think you have to be born with it. If you want to be the best, then you have to work really, really hard to become the best. But, you have to want it for yourself and not for others!

Winter: What is a typical training day for you like?
Zoie: When I arrive at the ranch after a long car ride, I take Ninja out of the turn-out and walk up a hill to get to the tack stall. I tack him up while listening to music and having a good karaoke session to wake myself up. Then Ninja and I walk around the track a few times before we head into the arena to meet Victoria.

Each lesson can be different depending on what Victoria and I agree on doing that day. We will either work on improving my equitation, my eye, and distance coordination, or my jumping release. After our hour lesson, I walk Ninja about 15-20 minutes around the track to cool down. Sometimes we go on a trail ride and enjoy nature together. Then we come back to the stalls where I will untack and hose Ninja off. Then I always ice Ninja’s legs, give him a treat, and a few kisses before putting him back in his stall.

Winter: How do your trainers prepare you and your horses? What do they have you practice?
Zoie: My trainers prepare my horse and me by cross-training. We do a lot of dressage and flatwork, go on trail rides, focus on my jumping, and learn from different clinicians to get different perspectives. We also work on my horse’s fitness, flexibility, strength, and overall happiness.

To learn more about Riders United and how you can support their mission, check them out online, and on Facebook and Instagram.

About the Author: With a background in filmmaking, fashion and contemporary art, Winter Hoffman brings a unique perspective to the equestrian world. A lifelong horsewoman, she helped her daughter, Zazou Hoffman, navigate her way to a successful Junior career culminating in 1st place in the 2009 ASPCA Maclay Equitation Championship at the National Horse Show and second in the USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final with East Coast trainers Missy Clark and John Brennan. Zazou is now a trainer and professional rider at Meadow Grove Farm in the Los Angeles area. She has competed on several developing rider Nations Cups representing the United States.

September 2020 - Ask Dr. Darby Bonomi
Written by by Dr. Darby Bonomi
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:31
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ask dr darby

Performance psychologist and equestrian answers readers’ questions.

Dear Dr. Darby,

I’m a 15 year old rider at a large show barn. Most of my lessons are with other riders similar to my ability. My problem is that during lessons, my trainer compares us, and makes every lesson a competition. I know she does this to try to get us to ride our best, but what happens is that I get very nervous and self-conscious. It’s really hard for me to concentrate because I feel judged. I don’t know how to tell my trainer how I feel. Besides, I think she might tell me to just learn to live with it.

Thanks for your advice,

—R.A., Northern California

Dear R,

Thanks for writing. I’m sorry to hear that your trainer’s motivational approach isn’t working for you. From where I sit, many riders feel the same. Constant competition at home can be stressful, and I believe this approach goes against some very important principles of sport performance.

In my view, we must ride for and against ourselves, regardless of whether we’re at home or a show. I coach my riders to own their rides. Ride for yourself. Don’t ride for me, the judge, your trainer, or to beat your friends.

Create your own plan—based on your own challenges and aspirations—and actualize it.  

Toward this end, I encourage everyone to set three goals for every ride—whether it’s at home or the show. After the ride, evaluate yourself on those three tasks—did you accomplish them? If yes, how well?

If not, what are you going to change? Give yourself feedback and then refine your plan for the next time. And, remember: while the judge might give you only a ho-hum score for your ride, but it might be a complete victory for you, given your goals for your horse and yourself on that particular day.

The more you define your own goals and ride your own plan, the more you will take full ownership of every ride.

With this perspective in mind, comparisons are irrelevant. Even if you and I are in the same lesson or class, we are not working on the same things. It might be helpful to me to see how how you rode a track, or made an inside turn, but I know that I’m working on keeping my horse straight particularly out of my right turns, maintaining a consistent forward pace, and anchoring my right leg. You, on the other hand will have other tasks to focus on. We might ride together, but our goals and challenges are distinct.

If I were you, I’d have a conversation with my trainer when you can sit down in the office. Tell her how her approach is challenging for you and offer up an alternative. Maybe she’ll join you in helping craft a plan for each ride, and then give you feedback based on your own performance in relation to that plan rather than comparing you to your friends.

I also have found that constant comparisons between barn mates really undermines a positive barn culture. Although ours is an individual sport, much of the fun and learning comes from being part of a barn. Intra-barn competition, in my view, is best kept to a minimum. It’s only natural for us competitors to want to be the best, but I find that most everyone performs optimally when they are riding their own plan—whether it’s at Grand Prix or short stirrup. Even if your trainer is not receptive to this point of view, you can change your own mindset, setting up your goals for every round and riding your plan.

Darby Bonomi, PhD is a Sport and Performance Psychologist based in San Francisco. She works with equestrians in all disciplines, as well as other athletes, to achieve optimal performance in and out of the competition. She can be reached at

If you have a question for performance psychologist Darby Bonomi, PhD., please submit it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You are welcome to ask a question anonymously, but please provide relevant background regarding your experience and other details that enable her to best answer your question.

September 2020 - What’s Happening...
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:16
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whats happeningCalifornia Riding Magazine Event Calendar

Does your special event deserve special coverage in California Riding Magazine’s What’s Happening Event Calendar? If so, let us know and don’t forget a photo. Send it all to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Our deadline is the first of the month for the following month’s issue. It’s the place to be and it’s free!

(Please visit the organizers’ websites before planning to enter or volunteer to ensure the event status has not changed.)

Twin Rivers Fall Horse Trials: Sept. 18-20 in Paso Robles

Advanced to Intro and CCI2*-S to CCI4*-S are on tap for these Horse Trials that had an unprecedented turn-out last year. Of course, this is a very different year, but the appetite for competitions that can be safely staged seems to be huge, so there are expectations of another big event.

The Baxter family that owns and operates Twin Rivers Ranch and the eventing competitions have added enforcement of COVID safety protocols to their resume of continual upgrades to the property and fostering a fun, family vibe for all exhibitors. Hugh Lochore brought his course design expertise to the Advanced tracks last year and rider feedback from those who ran them in March was very positive.

The inaugural Spring CCI4*-L set for April had to be scrapped because of COVID, but summer events have been successful, safe and popular.

Most likely spectators still won’t be allowed, per USEF and county guidelines, but volunteers are much needed as always and there’s no better seat in the house than jump judge, score runner or gate person.

For more information, visit

CDS & Region 7 Championships: Sept. 24-27 in Del Mar

The 53rd Annual California Dressage Society Championships are set to go, and are concurrent with the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Championships, as usual. What’s new is the venue: the Del Mar Horse Park in San Diego, a carefully considered relocation following COVID restrictions in Los Angeles that affected the original plan to stage the Championships at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

Glenda McElroy is at the organizational helm and, of course, COVID-19 protocols and practices will be strictly adhered to.

For more information, visit

Sacramento International: Sept. Sept. 23-27 and Sept. 30-Oct. 4 in Sacramento

West Palms Events is one of many hunter/jumper show organizers flying through hoops most of the year to keep people and horses safe and shows on the calendar, even if in a scaled down form. The Dale Harvey-led team has staged shows at the Woodside Horse Park and Del Mar Horse Park from mid-summer on, with events also planned for Hansen Dam Horse Park in Lake View Terrace and, of course, the Murieta Equestrian Center in the Sacramento area’s Rancho Murieta.

The Longines FEI World Cup qualifier that is usually the centerpiece of the Sacramento International’s two weeks was cancelled but the rest of the show is on. Welcome Week, Set. 23-27, hosts the NorCal Finals to get things off to a strong start.

Somehow in their free time, West Palms organized livestreamed Zoom meetings with Michael Nyuis Scholarship recipients and two stars. Transplanted Californian Lauren Kardel spoke about being a black equestrian and Olympian McLain Ward answered the group’s good questions. Very cool to be able to listen in on those chats!

For more information, visit