On your mark, get set, breed show!

Ariane -/*/* Dressage at Devon Produce of Dam Champion (83.5%) in 2004 and Reserve in 2003.

Ariane -/*/*, Dressage at Devon Produce of Dam champion (83.5%) in 2004 and reserve in 2003.

Last week I discussed whether breed shows could benefit your youngster.  This week, I will help you prepare for your first show!  One month prior:

1.     Familiarize yourself with the USEF 2014 rule book (pages 91-100) and the competition prize list.

2.     Acclimate your 2-year-old to working in a bridle.  For help http://youtu.be/PCOUJvBL27c

3.     Check with your vet concerning worming, vaccinations and Coggins.  Foals 6 months and older, with or without their dam, need their own Coggins.

4.     Teach your horse to trailer load.  Even if your youngster traveled well as a foal with their mom, travelling solo will be a new experience.  For guidance http://youtu.be/9iA4D5yh6SM

5.     Train  your horse to work on the triangle.  USDF prepared these excellent videos to assist you.

·       http://youtu.be/5_SWzhSWdJ8?list=UU7-iXaJrMi5_3efFUpQLqag

·       http://youtu.be/2FKsVoZdlfI

·       http://youtu.be/Np1BgV6xNNw?list=UU7-iXaJrMi5_3efFUpQLqag

Now that you have prepared your youngster, you will soon be on your way to your first outing.  Once you arrive and before you unload, inspect your stall carefully for safety hazards.  Young horses seem to find every protruding or sharp object imaginable!  You may also consider treating your stall walls and floor with a disinfectant.  The immune systems of young horses are more naive than mature horses.  We apply Spectrasol® with a hand pump trigger sprayer, before we bed the stalls.  This product is  safe for you and your horse and is environmentally friendly.  After your youngster has settled in, walk them around the show grounds.  Do this several times if possible.  Keep in mind that warm-up and staging areas are split with stallions on one side and mares on the other.  Mares with a colt at their side belong on the mare side.  In a high energy and dense venue like Devon, stallions will occasionally break away from their handler.  Stallions are naturally drawn to mares with foals at their side, so be observant at all times and listen for instructions from the stewards and announcer if this does occur.  Most importantly have fun and applaud yourself for your good work!

Are breed shows worthwhile for my youngster?

Dressage at Devon Breeder's Group Champion 2006, 2004 and Reserve 2005, 2003, 2002

Dressage at Devon Breeder’s Group Champion 2006, 2004 and Reserve 2005, 2003, 2002

At Blue Waters, we are in Devon prep mode and are honored to prepare horses for several of our clients.  Often I am asked if the breed ring is a good opportunity for youngsters to get exposure to their future life as a performance horse.  My answer is always a resounding, maybe!  In general I recommend very shy or nervous youngsters stay home until they grow into more confidence.  This includes foals who are still at their dam’s side, even if mom herself is calm.  The high energy of show grounds, particularly a venue like Devon, can really overwhelm them.  On the other hand, an independent and confident foal who has a fretful mom can still have a positive experience provided the dam is mannerly with her handler.  One of my broodmares was quite herd bound and became anxious when taken off the farm, however her foals enjoyed having new adventures and performed very well.  If your primary goal is providing life experience for your young horse, then by all means give breed shows a try.  If you are hoping to bring home a ribbon, then you have more to consider.  Foals, yearlings and two-year-olds are tricky to assess, given the fact that their bodies and movement seemingly change by the week.  It’s important to find peace with this reality, or you may set yourself up for disappointment.  If results are important to you, consider having your horse evaluated by a seasoned breeder, professional handler, breed judge or stallion owner.  Judges are charged with evaluating a few minutes in your young horse’s life and it’s a very difficult task indeed.  By no means does the outcome prophesy the potential of your youngster!  Continue reading

Aqua Pacer Conditioning

Aqua Pacer at the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center

Aqua Pacer at the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center

This week I am sharing an article I wrote and published in 2010, discussing Aqua Pacer conditioning.  Enjoy!

Emily Covington and I teamed up with Bruce Jackson at the Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center (F.H.E.T.C.) in Fair Hill, Maryland, to explore the benefits of an underwater treadmill or Aqua Pacer, as part of our fitness regimen. Our training program had always put a strong emphasis on fitness. Our horses lived primarily outdoors rather than being stalled, and we utilized cross-country hacking, free lunging, free jumping, cavalletti exercises and hill climbing to enhance soft and hard tissue strength and cardiovascular health. The Aqua Pacer however, offers several intriguing benefits. Horses working in the above ground, underwater treadmill, use the same muscles, ligaments and tendons as land based exercise but concussive stress is greatly lowered. This high resistance, low impact workout, reduces weight bearing by 40-60%. In clinical settings, Aqua Pacer therapy has been shown to increase strength, fitness and cardiovascular endurance as well as improve range of motion and flexibility. The height of the water and the speed of the treadmill are fully adjustable to achieve specific outcomes. Continue reading

Tickborne Diseases in Horses

The prevalence of tickborne diseases in our equine friends is on the rise, with Lyme Disease being the most commonly reported followed by Anaplasmosis and rarely Pirplasmosis.  There is disagreement whether Rocky Mountain spotted fever occurs in equine, but a study conducted in Columbia and published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene suggests it does.  I created a table (below) describing the characteristics of each disease for easy reference. Continue reading

Stay Vigilant Concerning Tickborne Diseases

Adult Deer Tick

Adult Deer Tick

It’s nearly a daily reality, that I hear about a person or horse contracting a tickborne illness.  I thought it would be prudent to review the facts and share helpful resources.  Not all medical professionals are well versed in tick borne diseases, even in high risk regions, so I encourage you to get educated.  Here on the east coast, at least nine diseases are transmitted by ticks and they include:

  • Anaplasmosis: deer tick
  • Babesiosis: deer tick
  • Borrelia miyamotoi infection: deer tick
  • Ehrlichiosis: lone star tick
  • Lyme disease: deer tick
  • Powassan disease: deer tick/groundhog tick, primarily in the northeast and Great Lakes
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever: dog tick/Rocky Mountain wood tick
  • STARI: lone star tick
  • Tularemia: dog tick/wood tick/lone star tick

The 2014 CDC Tickborne Diseases Manual, does a great job identifying ticks, describing disease symptoms, explaining testing methods and details current treatment protocols.  The information is presented in easy to read tables.  Without a doubt, preventing tick bites is best.  Ticks are most abundant in tall grassy or leaf covered areas, so when working in high risk environments be prepared.  If possible tuck your pants into a pair of tall boots or socks and then spray your legs with insect repellent containing at least 20% DEET.  Several outdoor apparel manufacturers now offer clothing treated with permethrin. Continue reading

My Journey With Raina – Forming a New Partnership

Photo by Emily Covington

Photo by Emily Covington

Thanks for your patience in waiting for the final installment of “My Journey With Raina”. I have been away on a hiking retreat but I am happy to be back with you!  The challenge of building a new relationship with Raina lay before me, and the Lord made clear that my heart towards her needed to become softer and more peaceful. Providentially, the Lord put in place the pieces I needed. I had the good fortune to attend a clinic with legendary horseman, Buck Brannaman, which reconnected me to my “natural horsemanship” roots. Continue reading

My Journey With Raina – Moving Through Loss To Hope

Stephen and I

Stephen and  I

Within a year, I grieved several losses including my beloved brother whom I adored.  Alongside the sadness came increased care giving responsibilities, leaving my heart heavy and my energy depleted.  Raina in particular felt the shift.  Because of her sensitive nature, she needs me to be peaceful and undistracted when I enter into her world.  Continue reading