Extreme Mustang Makeover Comes to Clemson, SC

“For the first time in history, the Extreme Mustang Makeover is visiting Clemson, South Carolina, on October 19-21! Join us to see 90-day trained Mustangs and their trainers compete for approximately $25,000 in prize money! All competing Mustangs will be available for adoption by the public on Sunday, October 21, 2012. Youth are also invited to participate in this event through the Youth & Yearling Mustang Challenge hosted by Mike Branch/Flying B Horsemanship! Trainers apply today – applications are due June 4th!” Read More at: http://www.extrememustangmakeover.com/emmsouthcarolina.php

Posted in Wild Mustangs | Leave a comment

‘Smiler’ Marshall, last British cavalrymen, dies at 108

This was an interesting article from May of 2005 posted on FaceBook that I thought worth sharing:

‘Smiler’ Marshall, last of the cavalrymen, dies at 108

(May 20, 2005)

The last British cavalryman to have ridden into battle on the Western Front has died aged 108.

Albert “Smiler” Marshall, who survived the brutal campaigns at Loos and the Somme, was one of only about a dozen remaining survivors of the First World War.

With his passing this week, at home in Ashstead, Surrey, goes the memory of British soldiers riding to war on horseback.

Mr Marshall served with the Essex Yeomanry, and is thought to have been the last English cavalryman to have charged with a drawn sword…

Read the entire Article @ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1490377/Smiler-Marshall-last-of-the-cavalrymen-dies-at-108.html

Posted in Cavalry, Equestrian History | Leave a comment

Caprilli and The Forward Seat

I’m still working on my article about The Forward Seat and Caprilli intended it to be. Not an easy task – it involves attempting to describe elements like ‘feel’ in words.

What I’ve settled on so far is mostly a description of the technique I use in riding lessons to establish a forward seat. The method I am going to describe is based upon what I learned as a young rider from my instructors, some of which were actually students of Caprilli or Santini, along with certain compatible elements as taught by Littauer.

One of the difficulties I have found in writing about Caprilli and his forward system of riding is in describing how the Forward Seat is part of a complete system of riding which comprises of Schooling of the horse and rider, Seat and Elements of Control. All three of these elements are interrelated and dependent upon one another and must be learned in a particular sequence.

Nevertheless, I will try to do my best in writing this article and hope that it will benefit riders and trainers, and encourage discussion of and further development of the Forward Seat as Caprilli intended it to be.

Posted in Cavalry, Equestrian History, Horse Training, Riding | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

USEF places Gamma Aminobutyric acid on the Prohibited List

This is an interesting article about Gamma Aminobutyric acid and Carolina Gold. This is a ‘must read’.

“This afternoon the USEF announced that it is going to stop playing dumb. They placed Gamma Aminobutyric acid on the Prohibited List, so that if they ever develop a test to find it, and can establish a normal versus abnormal range found in the average horse, they will start prosecuting those whose horses test over that range.”

Source: http://sidelinesnews.com/blogs/injectingperspective/uh-oh.html

Posted in Bits and Pieces, Horse Care | Leave a comment

Federico Caprilli – Per L’Equitatzione Di Campagna (Principles of Cross Country Riding)

Announcing a brand new English translation of Caprilli’s Per L’Equitatzione Di Campagna (Principles of Cross Country Riding).

Federico Caprilli’s article “Per L’Equitazione Di Campagna” (properly: On Riding in the Field) which appeared in the January/February 1901 issue of the Italian cavalry journal “Revista di Cavalleria” marks the birth of modern forward riding. Ask most people about who Federico Caprilli was and the invariable answer is “he is the father of modern forward riding”. Ask them if they have ever read anything he wrote and the number of respondents in the affirmative rapidly diminishes. Unfortunately, this article (which is much referred to by riding instructors world-wide) is largely inaccessible to most students of riding for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that the article in its entirety only appears once in English (other than in this new translation from the original Italian). That particular translation appears in Piero Santini’s book The Caprilli Papers (translated and edited by Major Piero Santini. J.A.Allen, London, 1967)…

And fortunately my grandfather kept an original copy of the Italian Cavalry Journal Revista di Cavalleria that contained Caprilli’s article for me to work from.

My goal in translating in Caprilli’s article to make this particular article available to those who have heard of Caprilli but have had no means of reading what he said in his own words and to let the reader understand how modern forward riding has developed in variance with the original system for better or worse. This last conclusion is up to the rider of today to determine for himself (a proposition that Caprilli might have encouraged).

My new translation from the original is the only English translation of this work in publication and will be offered for sale in next few days as a downloadable file in PDF format (other formats will be available by request). This will be a great addition to any horseman’s or historian’s library.

For more information, send me an email.

You can now purchase this new translation for $10 (via Paypal) in Adobe PDF format by clicking the “Buy Now” button below:

 

Posted in Cavalry, Equestrian History, Horse Training, Riding | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Saving an Ex-Race Horse

Here’s an interesting video with an interesting story by Garnet Rogers (Brother of the late Stan Rogers, a great Canadian folk-artist). A very moving story and song to say the least.

I beg those of you who are looking for a good horse to consider an ex-race horse to adopt. There are few things in life more rewarding than saving the life of a horse.

 

Posted in Bits and Pieces, Horse Care, Horse Training, Riding | 1 Comment

There are still some great traditions in the world

The Queen followed in her famous father’s footsteps for the visit to the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in their barracks in St. John’s Wood, London (this footage from June 24, 2011):

It’s nice to see that some countries still maintain their cavalry and military horsemanship traditions.

Posted in Bits and Pieces, Cavalry, Equestrian History | Leave a comment

The Story of Leader (so far)

Another good article contributed by Maj. Roger Hannington (Retired).

THE STORY OF LEADER (so far)

If you have ever read Horse Sense and Sensibility written under the nom-de-plume of Crascredo then you are probably showing your age but you may also be aware of a delightful but sorrowful little bit of whimsy within the volume entitled Empty Stables. Well, it all started a bit like that. (I will leave you to look it up! www.abebooks.co.uk  will find it for you.)

I  lay in bed and thought that the stables, which had been built well over a hundred years ago, were,  in the modern parlance, a tip. They were filled with junk. They had been stripped many years ago and turned into a cow byre. Then they had been converted into a pottery; and then a wood turnery. A long strip of floor had been dug up and a concrete sluice constructed for the convenience of  the cows. The doors hung from their hinges, the windows were broken and there was little sign of horse; and there had probably been no horse since the Army took the place over during the war. The Hitler war that is!

Once the place had been emptied, by looking into the light it was possible to see where the wear had taken place on the floor and to deduce where the partitions must have been. Faint rust marks on the walls and floor confirmed it. Careful removal of layers of paint revealed in the corners the curved outline of corner hay racks; clean within and with the greasy marks of the horse’s muzzle still outlining the curve. I had actually found part of the horse! From here enthusiasm took hold. A large sledge hammer and practice for Dartmoor Prison broke up the concrete sluice and uncovered the old drainage system beneath. Visits to older houses in the area indicated the style of stable fittings that had then been in vogue.

The long and the short of it was a restoration of the stable block with all its fittings; a central door opening onto two loose boxes , one at either end with two stalls in between; all lined with wood; and I confess to two brass chandeliers.

It was a fine stables, or Horse House, as it is called, but it was my wife who then said that it was a pity that after so much work there was no horse. I had not ridden for some years but it sparked the idea. I imagined the sound of munching , the shuffling of straw and the occasional snort. At first I thought that it would be a good idea to offer a retirement home to an Army horse or two that would be content to plod around the fields and to be ridden occasionally at a trot along the lanes and bridle paths. A suitable horse was not available and I began to look at the back pages of Horse & Hound for something similar.

Under the circumstances I had not bothered with a veterinary inspection but had backed my own judgment. I bought a tired looking, ex-steeplechaser from a young woman who had in turn bought him not long before from a racing stable after an undistinguished racing career in the hope of having a point-to-point winner.

There had been a sense of exhilaration in clearing the hay barn and stacking bales of hay and straw and of fencing the fields in anticipation of his arrival, in setting out a schooling area and a few poly jumps. I had a horse again! The day came when he arrived – a 16.2hh Thoroughbred bay gelding, eleven years old,  gaunt, very ribby, pelvic bones standing proud, a wispy tail and a short frazzled mane that looked as if it had been burned. His hind quarters had some muscle on the nearside and just sloped off on the right. He had a nasty lesion under the brisket.

After his journey and his change of environment he had a rest day. I walked him in hand around the perimeter of the fields and talked to him and showed him the steep places and the rocks and then turned him loose for the day.

The following day I saddled Leader and mounted him and found myself flat on the ground on the other side. He had moved off very smartly; and I had gone over the top! I was soon to learn that this was his normal practice and  it was also with difficulty that I could persuade him to do other than walk. A new saddle which fitted and was easy on his withers solved much of these  problems. I took him into the fields and found that I had a horse that would not go down a slope and that was very reluctant to turn right.  He showed no reaction to leg pressure at all. He did not favour any pace other than walking or galloping, preferably on a  left hand curve.  It turned out  fortunately that he was brilliant in traffic and treated it with total disdain.

In his box he would not allow any attention in the vicinity of his ears or poll and was very wary of the right hand side of his neck being handled or even of my standing to the right of his neck.  Grooming his underbelly or stifle area would elicit a swipe from a hind foot but apart from this he was an easy friendly boy.

I thought about what I had  and what I should do. The realisation came to me that for the first time I had my own horse in my own stable and that I could put into practice my own ideas about how a horse should be treated, about stable management and equitation.. Well — not all my own ideas because they were based upon what I had learned from the writings of Colonel McTaggart (whose writings I commend to you)  and Waldemar Seunig  , from the instruction of the Army Veterinary establishment at Melton Mowbray and from the none too gentle attentions of the one-time Riding Master of the Life Guards. Nevertheless I imagine that we all evolve our own theories and I was no exception. In essence I believe that a horse responds essentially to kindness,  gentleness and patience coupled with consistency and firmness. Just because a horse shows little facial expression and does not speak English does not mean that he does not think or understand. Always talk to the horse. Show him what you are doing.  (Forgive me; I am preaching).

Mr Munch  (That is not his name but that is how he came to be addressed in the stable) had been ridden in a Pelham with roundings and I was never sure about those things so I put  an egg-butt Mullen Mouth in his mouth with the thought that if he carted me into the next county I could always move up to a jointed snaffle or back to a Pelham. We walked each day this way and that way and round about.   Then we progressed to the trot. Always there was exactly the same amount of work on one rein as the other. This was an intelligent horse who learned fast. He had had no idea about opening and closing gates but at the third attempt he had got it.

I came to realise that as long as I was meticulous about using the body brush in the direction of hair growth my boy  became  more relaxed and with the reward of a piece of carrot whenever he behaved well he learned fast. Always I talked to the horse and he was never patted vigorously, just stroked and caressed..  He did not like fingers near his face but with the fingers folded in he could be stroked.

The months passed  and by last autumn he was a fit active horse. He stood to be mounted. He had put on muscle in all the right places. The high points of his pelvis had almost disappeared. His coat was glossy and his mane and tail were silken.  He responded to light pressure from the fingers or the leg. I still rode him in the Mullen Mouth at all paces. He could perform a half-pass and I could ride him in a figure of eight without reins. He was a joy;  and I realised that he was one of the finest horses it had been my privilege to ride; and over the years I have ridden a few. We had such plans. He has a sweet and gentle nature, he would greet me with licks and hold me by the sleeve when he was led. He would come from the field when called and walk at my elbow without a headcollar. He would lower his head to have his ears stroked. We had become great friends. So often after we had ridden my wife would ask me how he had gone and my reply would be that he is the perfect horse.

My time with Leader had been busy and it was not until later that I took much interest in his background. His sire was Supreme Leader. His dam was West Run by Deep Run who also sired Dawn Run. If I had been a racing man perhaps I would have discovered the significance of this earlier.

Now we come to the difficult  part.

Where I live is very hilly and the climate has recently  become very wet. For several months of the year the fields became too wet for a vigorous horse.  I was to discover that there were no usable bridle paths. When it is wet one is confined to road work on steep hills or the main road; and the local drivers have no manners.  Leader did not mind but they frighten me. When it is dry the fields all slope with only one level stretch  where one could let the horse go for a quarter of a mile or so, and in places just beneath the surface are smooth boulders or slippery clay. He could fall.

Leader is a fit active horse, now only 12 years old, who enjoys his exercise and likes to gallop when turned out.  I was forced to recognise that he was just too good for the terrain in which I was keeping him. This was not an old  retired cavalry horse.  It was not fair to expect him to go up and down the same steep lane and along the same stretch of main road day after day or in the drier months to be confined to the same fields with the ever present danger of a fall. I knew that I had to find him a new home. When he had first come to me I had promised him aloud to his face that I would never sell him and that he had a good home for life. This horse had given me his trust and more than that, his friendship,  and now I faced this new decision with the guilt of having betrayed him. Since then, I admit, I have sat in his straw in his box with him and wept like a child.– for him. for inflicting yet another change upon him and for my own loss.

I had previously consulted  HEROS, (the charity run for the homing of ex-racehorses – they dealing exclusively with thoroughbreds) about a minor aspect of  Leader’s  behaviour. This led to my arranging for Leader to go to HEROS. At least I kept part of my promise to him — I would  not sell him.  I gave him away —  the finest horse I have known and my great friend. I feel a total heel.

.It did not help that one of the dogs had formed a great attachment to Leader. For six weeks each morning he lay outside the stable waiting for him to return.

My wife sought to reassure me that if I had not bought him he would have been bought by some didicoit or finished on a Belgian dinner plate. That does not relieve the anguish of the decision. The Horse House is silent again now;  but my boy is back in the mainstream of the horse world in good hands.

FAREWELL to LEADER

When I left you there I could hardly speak
    For the anguish clutching my wretched heart,
    And I cursed the fate which could cruelly seek
    That  you and I should have to part;
    After all the days you’d carried me,
    And the joys and sorrows we’d gaily shared
    In Dafydd’s fields; which shall always be
    A sweetest memory, unimpaired
    By the passing years or the hand of Time.
    But the only thing that can comfort me,
    Now you’re far away in some distant clime,
    Is the thought that you will surely be
    As content, no doubt, as in older days,
    For the home you’ve gone to is good, I know,
    And you’ll still be riding in the same old ways,
    And hearing again  that “Come My Boy!”
    Which we’ve often started to, you and I;
    And that thrill of harmony when as one
    In accord, together, we ride and fly
    And  waken the echoes like a sounding drum.

    But I hope, sometimes, you will think of me,
    And remember days which we both enjoyed,
    For  there’ re good  wide grass-lands where you will be,
    Not  rocks and stones or gaping void.

    At some future time we may ride again,
    Although no one knows what the fates may send;
    But we’ll go on hoping, and so, till then,
    I must say ‘Good-bye, Good luck, my dear dear friend.’

                    ——-RH  after Roberts

Posted in Equestrian Sports, Horse Care, Horse Training, Riding | Leave a comment

The Real War Horse of WW I

Protecting horses from poison gas - World War I

Primative attempt at protecting horses (and humans) from poison gas during The First World War.

During the First World War, it is estimated that nearly 6,000,000 – 8,000,000 horses died on the Western Front on both sides.  In one of the saddest examples of the suffering and sacrifice of horses during “The Great War”, of the nearly 121,000 Australian “Waler” Horses, only one, named “Sandy” ever returned home.

The tragedy of the fate of these horses and the horror of war can be summed up in this poem about the Waler Horses.

“In the fading memory of tears and terror
does our nation remember its mortal error?
A thousand more and a thousand more
A breed of horses went to war.
From NSW we mustered them all
For king and country, to rise and fall.
They carried us; weary bloodied and dry
Never a query or what for? or why?
We sheltered beneith their salt crusted hides.
They trusted our voices, laid down and died.
Those that were left
became dust on the shore.
Lest we forget, the perils of war.”

It makes me wonder as to the real reason of the demise of horse cavalry – was it because of the mechanization of modern warfare and the industrialization of waging war, or was it the fact that the world’s horse population was nearly wiped out as a result of “The Great War”?

Western Civilization, it is said, was built from the back of a horse. We owe these magnificent animals a debt of gratitude that perhaps we can never repay.

I found this very moving video with some excellent footage about the Australian Waler Horse of WW I on YouTube. It is well worth watching:

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cavalry, Equestrian History | 7 Comments

Contemplating Homing of an Ex-racehorse

Here is an interesting letter by Maj. Roger Harrington(ret) of the UK concerning the homing of ex-race horses. It contains some very enlightening information concerning what the potential recipient of an off the track thoroughbred (or any other breed used in racing) Should know about the subject, what one is up against, and what approach one should be prepared to apply.

This item was accidentally posted to the wrong article, but I thought it was so insightful that it should be posted as its own item because of the valuable information and insight it contains.

Maj. Roger Hanington:

The following is a letter which I wrote to the Editor of a certain well known periodical a few years ago; parts of it might be of interest —————-

Dear Madam,

Your issue dated 28 June 2007.

I read the article on ex-racehorses with interest. Whilst the intention no doubt is to be helpful I fear that the result may have been to deter people comtemplating the homing of a thoroughbbred or an ex-racehorse with the consequent loss of great pleasure and satisfaction to the rider and a safe and happy home for the horse.
The details of particular cases were of interest but the information in the blocks at the side emphasised difficulties and dangers out of proportion. I offer the following thoughts as encouragment.

I have ridden horses over sixty one years ranging from common ponies, light draught horses, troop horses and chargers, show-jumpers and a variety of hired hunters. I rode my first ex-racehorse fiftyseven years ago at the age of twelve and until a few weeks ago kept my own ex-racehorse.

As Border Collies are different from other dogs so thoroughbreds and ex- racehorses are different from other horses. Despite the fearsome warnings implied by your feature they are different primarily in two respects. Firstly they are usually more intelligent and secondly they have been trained (or not trained) to behave in particular ways. That very intelligence however enables them to amend their previous training and to learn.

The intelligence gives the ability to think, to imagine and to anticipate. This can lead to unwarranted reaction to minor unkown situations but seldom a reaction that can not be brought under control and in my experience is seldom so extreme that it is difficult to sit. I have been chucked off so many horses that I could not possibly count but only once have I been removed by an ex-racehorse and that was largely my own fault. The intelligence also gives the ability to learn about new situations and to recognise that new responses are now required by the rider. Re-schooling or even basic training becomes that much easier. So much so that over a period of only two or three days it is possible to recognise that the horse has learned.

Because the horse thinks and remembers he or she is likely to regard the new rider or keeper with wariness, especially if the animal has been treated unkindly in the past – and not all grooms are kind. The first thing that has to be established is trust. When the horse trusts the rider and the groom (who are preferably the same) then the rider will trust the horse, will be that much more relaxed upon the horse who will in turn relax. Trust is achieved only by kindness and gentleness coupled with consistency. There is more to horsemanship than riding and the secret of a good ride starts in the loose box.

Of course an ex-racehorse will initially do unexpected things – not unexpected to the horse of course – unexpected to the rider, so it is the rider’s task to learn the horse; but these are initial things of no great import and with trust and confidence will soon pass. The horse is of course also learning the rider and a classical seat and light hands will achieve much. (Unfortunately one sees the classical seat and leg less often these days even among the dressage contingent; but it works! ). The horse will become a sensitive and cooperative partner. (more than just compliant).

The horse is sensitive. If his saddle hurts he will try to get rid of it – and whatever is on it. If his mouth hurts he will try to get away from it. Just because the horse is fast does not mean that he is impossible to stop. He does not have to be ridden in a Pelham or a Bit and Bridoon. Start with the mildest bit you can find; you might just find that you need never change.

So where does all this leave us? Do not be deterred by xxxx. It helps to remember that if something is not right it is almost always the rider or handler’s fault – something you have done, or not done or have failed to notice. We must be prepared to take the blame, we usually deserve it.

As encouragement I offer this — I started not so long ago with an unre-schooled ex-racehorse. Where initially he did not understand leg pressure, after eight months I could ride him without stirrups and perform a figure of eight without reins. He learned about gates in three days and where he had been frightened of puddles he would cross the river. I rode him in an eggbutt mullenmouth and never changed. An unschooled ex-racehorse is not for a novice. For a sympathetic rider who is prepared to be the horse’s friend an unparalleled joy awaits.

Finally I feel that xxxx have been unfair to dismiss Grace Muir as just a registered race-horse trainer. She runs an impeccable establishment (I have inspected a few) incorporating HEROS as a charity for rehoming ex- racehorses. You also fail to mention HEROS in the list of contacts. It would be a pity if HEROS was overlooked by those who might otherwise give a good home to an ex-racehorse.

Yours faithfully,
Roger Hanington

ROGER HANINGTON
Major (Retired)

 

Many thanks to Maj. Hanington for his insight into the subject of the homing of former race horses. I include my return email to his apology for his mis-posting of the comment and my thanks for bringing up such an important subject:

I was working with a big 17.3hh Dutch Warmblood today that about 4 previous trainers had given up on, claiming the horse was ‘dangerous’. This particular horse was a highly trained horse that was well beyond the campaign school and had been worked up to the beginning of real Haute École work when the original owner decided that the horse wasn’t their cup of tea, so to speak. I went to take a look at the horse to see what was going on and engaged the horse like I do with any other horse be it an off the track thoroughbred or a problem horse.

The owner and the most recent trainer told me that the horse was aggressive and dangerous and that it couldn’t be trusted. They were even afraid to handle the horse. So, I had them bring the horse out. They had ever manner of stud chain over the horses nose and two grooms on each side of the horse and they were having a time of it just to control the horse.

I told them to let the horse loose in the round pen. I let the horse settle for a while and then I entered the round pen. The horse was indeed acting wild, charged at me, kicked and bucked but always maintained a good distance from me. I told the owners that the horse was not dangerous because it didn’t actually try to nail me with a hoof or otherwise make contact with me. After about 20 minutes, the horse settled down and approached me. I did nothing but stand in one place. I thought about what you said in the comment you posted about gaining a horse’s trust – I gave the horse no reason to fear me but at the same time didn’t give any indication to the horse that I was intimidated but showed the horse respect, so to speak.

It was at this point I realized exactly what the problem was: A very highly trained horse, a rider that didn’t have the skill to ride the horse which made for a horse that was utterly confused about what the rider was asking the horse to do. In this instance, the squirrelly and ‘dangerous’ behavior of the horse was the horse simply not having a clue of what the rider was asking it to do (and the rider not having a clue or the skill level to properly ask the horse to do anything) which resulted in the horse doing everything under the sun to figure out how to comply with what it though the rider was asking it to do.

This same set of conditions applies to former race horses. I see all too many people who buy an off the track thoroughbred who don’t properly ‘let the horse down’ for a couple of months. They get on a horse that knows only one thing (run like Hell) and the inexperienced rider and former race horse are off to the races much to the amusement of those who happen to be around to watch the ensuing festivities.

One of the many things that never ceases to amaze me is that a the mild application of rational thought on the part of the new owner and her trainer could have over-ridden their lack of knowledge (which ironically, the whole situation was not beyond their level of knowledge and skill, all things considered) or at least set them up for an appropriate solution that didn’t include the option of giving up.

 

Posted in Bits and Pieces, Horse Care, Horse Training | Leave a comment