Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An Equestrian's Guide to Winter

by guest blogger Michelle Schubert

As the holidays get closer and the cold weather continues to approach, it’s important to stay warm. Although we may spend all summer complaining about the heat, hoping the judges will waive hunt coats, at least we get to spend our days at horse shows and our evenings outside with friends and family. When winter hits, I cringe at the idea of spending three or four hours outside with my horse, even though I consider the barn to be my second home. It doesn’t seem to matter how many pairs of socks or gloves I wear, my fingers and toes somehow manage to feel like they’re as cold as ice! Here are some tips to get you and your horse through the winter.

        Layers, layers and more layers: Layers are perfect for riding, because as you get warm you can take off a jacket (or two!) and still stay warm. Plus, if you catch a chill after you’re done riding your jacket is right there waiting for you!

        Find the perfect pair of boots: As comfortable as your worn-in paddock boots are, it’s important to find a pair more suitable for cold weather. Consider purchasing fleece liners for your wellies or lined boots for riding. Just make sure your winter boots won’t get trapped in the stirrups if you take a spill.

       Drink up: Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you aren’t supposed to hydrate. Whether you pack a thermos of hot chocolate or a bottle of water it is important to stay hydrated. Working in cold weather is dehydrating, and you don’t need to add dehydration to a list that may include frozen fingers and toes!

Warm up the bit: The same way you may not like a frozen drink in the winter, horses probably don’t like having a cold piece of metal in their mouths. If you aren’t able to store your bit in a warm place, breathe on it for a few minutes before you put the bridle on. Or try something like a Bitten, which will warm up the bit and give you a reason to carry hand warmers!

        Check their water bucket: Both you and your horse need to stay hydrated throughout the cold winter months. Always check to make sure water buckets aren’t frozen over. If you do come across a bucket covered with ice, gently crack the ice and remove the pieces before getting your horse more water.

        Take your time: As cold as you may be, it’s important to give your horse a bit longer to cool down, especially if he or she has a thick winter coat. Consider tossing a cooler over your horse’s back after a hard workout, it’ll keep your legs warm and prevent your horse from catching a chill.

These tips should help you and your horse make it through the winter. Just remember to stay warm and be safe. Please pass along any tips you may have to help us all get through the winter months!

Michelle is a junior at Ball State University studying public relations. Although she has ridden on and off since going to school, horses have always been a passion of hers. Michelle began riding at age 8, and has grown up riding with Ken Stien at Plantation Equestrian Center. She and her horse, Rokoko compete in the Amateur Adult division.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The 2013 Maclay National Championships - a Must See

Lexington, KY - November 3, 2013 -If you had the chance to observe the finals this year, there was no disappointment in the level of testing during the class. Riders from around the country who qualified for the 2013 ASPCA Maclay National Championship started at 6:00am Sunday at the Alltech National Horse Show in Lexington, KY with the course walk for round one of the Championship.  One hundred forty eight riders competed for a chance to win the title. Following is just a short synopsis so as not to give away the whole story!

The course had a selection of jumps to test horse and riders with the challenge beginning with jump one, a natural oxer off of a short turn away from the gate.  The line rode very forward in four strides to a vertical without a ground line, causing many horses to add a stride.  A few jumps later was another challenge; a hand gallop to a narrow brick wall without standards, which again trapped many riders into difficult take off distances.  Thirty riders advanced to the flat phase.

The judges, Susan Humes and Robert Ridland continued to challenge these young riders more than in past years. The flat phase not only included the usual counter canter but also a half pass. Twenty riders advanced from the flat phase on to course #2.

The second jumping round included a trot jump as the second element of the line after an oxer and a counter canter jump as a rollback. Another rollback to a triple bar and forward to an in and out yet again, made a challenging test for riders.

As I'm sure you might have read, Lillie Keenan rose to the top for the win. Out of five Chicago riders, two made the top 20, Caitlin Boyle and Lauren Tyree, and one made the top ten, Lauren Tyree.

My point, if you didn't see it live or via live feed, you missed a chance to see our young riders rise to the occasion. Again I say, getting to Lexington is not difficult for the opportunity to watch the best riders compete, succeed and fail, but to give us all a chance to learn. Kudos to the young professionals who came at 6:00am to walk the course and learn so they can improve their teaching and the skills of their young riders. Hooray to the parents who sat in the stands all day to support their children. Thanks to the professionals who tirelessly uphold and teach to the highest levels possible. Lastly, thanks to the horse show managers who also strive to raise the bar so we can produce better riders and horses for our country.

See the whole Championship for yourself on usefnetwork.com

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Kentucky Experience

Lexington, KY - November 1, 2013 - We had the pleasure of attending the Kentucky Experience at the Alltech National Horse Show yesterday. Thanks to the gracious sponsorship of Phelps Media Group, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, Zoetis, USHJA and the Grayson Jockey Club, the tours were made available to the public. The day began with guests loading the tour buses which departed for various Thoroughbred farms in the area and tours of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital.

Our group toured the beautiful Mt. Brilliant Farm, home of the famous race horse, Man O' War. Mt. Brilliant Farm has 1200 acres housing a thoroughbred breeding operation and polo ponies.

The original barn that housed Man O' War at Mt. Brilliant has been restored.

Additional barns on the property were designed by equestrian architect John Blackburn to house the broodmares, stallions and yearlings. 
Additional barns on the Mt. Brilliant Property designed by John Blackburn.

Buses then moved on to the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. Alex Riddle guided our group through the clinic describing the specialties of the clinic along the way.
Alex Riddle explains the digital x-ray system to the group.

The bone scan building at Rood and Riddle.

Treadmill diagnostics.

From the clinic, guests were bussed back to the Alltech Arena where they could watch the Alltech National Horse Show or tour the Kentucky Horse Park Museum. Rood and Riddle hosted a Sport Horse Seminar that guests could attend and later in the day, tour guests were invited to the USHJA (United States Hunter Jumper Association) building for a reception which included a chance to meet the famous Olympian Harry DeLeyer, now known for the book Eighty Dollar Champion about his Grand Prix Horse, Snowman. 
Harry DeLeyer at the USHJA reception.

Guests were also able to tour the USHJA museum and it's collection of memorabilia from the history of horse showing and famous horses and riders. 

Tour ticket holders could return to the horse show for the evening performance of saddlebreds and the Lifeforce Elite $50,000 Puissance class back at the Alltech Arena. Add in some Kentucky Bourbon tasting and specialty equestrian shopping and there was no better Kentucky Experience.

I highly recommend the tour and the Alltech National Horse Show for horsel overs to attend. Don't miss it next year. Watch for updates on ChicagoEquestrian.com on our Alltech page!