Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Winter and Old Dogs


Saturday, December 27, 2008

November and December in Virginia are prime riding months- between 50 and 60 degrees, dry and crisp, a great time of year to get in a lot of schooling time. Not this year, though. It has swung wildly from 65 degrees and pouring rain to 25 degrees and 50-mph winds without any kind of pattern at all, making any form of riding routine impossible. To clip the horses would leave them frozen on the bitter days, but they get too hot at 65 degrees to do any serious work. The weather made it impossible to get our outdoor arena finished this fall, so with the ground being either slick as a skating rink or frozen into ruts, it's been nothing but frustration watching them standing around.

Comes December 27, and wow ! 58 degrees and sunny, run and get the tack !

Kazak, the old veteran, knowing him well I put him on the lunge to get his bucks out, 10 minutes of craziness and he was done, lathered but happy. We'll go for a hack tomorrow in the morning when it's cooler, he has a really bushy coat.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rain, rain and more rain! - Australia

From The Making of an Endurance Horse

Monday, December 15, 2008

We have been in quite a severe drought for the past 4 years, with nothing but dust in the paddocks. All the dams in the area have been bone dry for at least 2 years, and all the stock have either been moved to other agistment paddocks, or (as in my case) been getting hand fed twice a day.

And now it has started to rain! In the past 4 weeks we have had over 10 inches of rain.... and all the dams are over-flowing, the weeds are starting to really get ahead now (bugger!), and the horses are starting to get mild laminitis from the fresh new sprouts of grass. Not that there is a lot of grass, mind you! The dust bowl that was my paddocks ensured that most of the grass roots had completely shrivelled up and died long ago, but there are a few hardy patches of grass coming back through.

Mostly we just have weeds. Some of them are horse-friendly, and some are not. The pests like Lantana, Privet and Prickly Pear are just having a field day!! But the place LOOKS green, and it really is refreshing to see.

Of course, this means that I've had to put the work on Flamenco on hold for the past couple of weeks, as the round yard has been just too wet and slippery to do any work in it.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Qatar: Who needs a personal trainer? - Maggie Mieske

Riding4ward - Globetrotting in Qatar

Dec. 12th, 2008

Today Hattan walked us around the oasis. Nelson and I decided to give him the day off from being ridden, but he still needed to get out and exercise his legs, and so did we, thus we headed out to walk the trails of the oasis. We saw all the same things we saw yesterday, but on foot. Hattan thinks he is a Hoover vacuum and stops to pick up and eat whatever is in his path: palm leaves, sticks, clumps of dirt, wood shavings, you name it. The only thing I did NOT see him pick up in his mouth were the peacock feathers!


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Terri Tinkham and Oliver Twist - XP Rides 2008 Gold Medal Award Winners

XP Rides

Congratulations to Terri Tinkham and Oliver Twist - XP Rides 2008 Gold Medal Award Winners!!

Is that a Mustang??? Is that horse gaited??? What kinda horse is thaaaaat??? Well, no, yes and he’s a Tennessee Walker, Standardbred cross.

And, it is not just his appearance that baffles. To look at him you wouldn’t have a clue! Not only about his breed but that he just finished this year with 1925 Endurance miles; earning 2nd place in the AERC National Mileage Standings. Last year with 1120 miles, when we tied with Dave Rabe for 10th , I thought, “hey, we are really doing something” ! 2007 was our first year of doing serious 50 mile Endurance rides; in my three previous years in this sport, I was content to mostly ride LDs. But once you get hooked on the multi-day rides and especially the Duck rides, there is no going back ….. ever. I have become so addicted that I drove almost 14,000 miles last year to attend these rides.

So, how can this be, you wonder: a 14.2 hand, non Arab, barefoot and gaited horse succeeding in Endurance? It is one of life’s little mysteries and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to get him.

Full story at

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Cazon FEI International Endurance Races - Leonard Liesens

Nov 29th 2008

My fourth trip to Argentina. This time the initial goal of our trip was the conference organized by the Association of the Arabian Horse Breeders led by Elena Romero. Elena is the owner of the Los Estribos Haras where the famous Wagram stallion is the chief sire.

Elena invited us – Francois Atger, from France and myself - to present the “French system of performing in endurance”. During the two days of the conference held during the Horse Fair of Buenos Aires, we presented various aspects of the system. While Francois Atger concentrated mainly on the breeding and the raising of the endurance horse in France, I focused on the education and conditioning of the horse, from the young horse to the high level techniques. A good hundred of riders and breeders attended the conference, asking many questions.

Then we had the opportunity to visit the Haras of Los Estribos and see the young stock produced by Wagram. Wagram is well-known in the world for being the sire of two winners of the President Cup – RO Fabiola and RO Super. His get, especially the herd of males of two and three year was very impressing and similar looking, something that one with the eye of a breeder likes very much.

On the Thursday we finally head to Cazon with our friends Miguel and Celina Pavlovsky . I was eager to see the horse that Miguel offered me to ride. In fact, I have been always very very successful with Miguel’s horses. I had the big pleasure to ride his good mare Mora Austria in 2003 at the 160km ride in Bahia Blanca, then the year after at the PanAm in Pinamar, completing at 5th place.

This time again I was blessed when I jumped on Mora Nina. I was immediately sure she was a girl with the killer instinct. Apart from that she had also the movements and the right relaxed and ground covering canter that we like in Europe. Mora Nina is a tall anglo-arab mare from the famous chief sire of the Haras San Andres, Moro Fugitivo. Pablos de Heros’s horse Moro Ideal was also impressive : a strong and very tall part-arab by Moro Fugitivo out of a French saddlebred mare. With him, Pablo’s has a good placing as a combination horse/rider at the FEI ranking. He was actually second with the possibility of collecting enough points to finish at the first place.

Bothe of us were competing on the CEI*** on the distance of 120km, among a pack of a good 50 starters, which is quite exceptional for Argentina. Among the starters, Valery Kanavy riding LM Parys.

And last but not least, the Boss, Miguel, who was competing with Mora Presumida for the Argentinian Championship on the distance of 160km.

Cazon is an ideal place for organizing endurance rides. A very nice venue on the grass with plenty of space for camping. Steph has described the venue better than I could do. We liked very much the way it had been designed in the local style.

The weather was hot, too hot on the Thursday. Fortunately, there was a big storm with big rainfall during the evening. This made the going softer, removed the dust and cleaned up the skies. The day of the ride, the weather was still hot – around 30 degrees Celsius – but with a good breeze.

The start of the 160km was given at 5AM while the 120km was flagged off at 6PM. Only 7 riders on the 160km for a long ride across the agricultural fields for 7 loops. A very good going, packed sand and sometimes grass along the highway, almost like cantering on a racetrack most of the time.

Three horses were eliminated at the third vetgate, then another one paid his toll to the speed at the 4th vetgate. So only 3 were allowed to take the start of the last loop of 19km, Petersen, Pavlosky and Taddeo. Finally Pedersen won at the average speed of 14.86kph. The two others were less fortunate as their horse didn’t pass the final examination.

On the 120km, 14 riders competing in the category Young riders and 33 in the category Seniors. Winner of the Young riders was Larrere Guadalupe on Sche Abu (Avg speed: 18.51kph); second Martin Ojeda on board Al Anochecer and third place for Manuela Mender riding M Diaguita.

The 120km race for the seniors was won by Antonio Ponce riding Del Siete Barbara at the average speed of 20.06kph. I finished second with my outstanding mare Mora Nina, just 2 minutes behind Antonio and with a few more kilometers, I’m sure Mora Nina could beat him, but this is the sport. We were cruising in the middle of the pack for the first and second loop, trying to find the right pacing for this mare, trying to go fast but relaxed at the same time, without taking care of the others. At this game, Mora Nina proved her excellent mental and sense of independence. Perfect girl… After the fourth loop, staying always at a good tempo, I started to pass many riders, either at the vetgate or on the trail… So it was the time to think about a good placing. At the start of the last loop, we were 4th with a gap of 2 minutes on the third and 6 minutes or so on third(Valerie Kanavay) but 12 minutes on the leader. Second place was in the range of Mora Nina possibilities, depending on her mental during the first km of this last loop. But she has got the mental and plenty of energy… We caught up almost immediately with the 3rd rider and kept a good canter until I was able to see Valerie in the far. When I saw her taking a turn far away, I could count how long it took us to reach the same turn… 3 minutes… fine… It was possible for Nina… but without putting her in debt… we caught up at the water point. She didn’t want to drink… too excited. We stayed behind Valerie and the junior rider who accompanied her a few kilometers… but Nina was too strong and we passed them on the way to the second place, then we trotted for some time without knowing that the leader was so close. One or two kilometers from the finish, the leader was in sight, but it was too late. No problem, 2nd place will delight Miguel and San Andres Del Moro.

Behind us, the French couple Virginie Atger and Angel Lazes rode a good ride, making profit of the good recoveries of their horses to finish at 4th and 5th place at an average speed of 17.39kph. Pablos de Los Heros took the 9th place. In total 22 couples finished the race on 47 starters.

Today, while I’m writing this report, two qualifications rides are taking place on 80 and 40 kms. This afternoon we will head to the Haras San Andres del Moro. The plans are to visit the Pavlovsty’s haras then go bring a visit to the Haras Las Cortaderas of Claudia Quentin.

Leonard Liesens -

Photos by Caroll Gatelier Coverage Page

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Valley of the Sun Ride - I R Murphy

The first ride of the Valley of the Sun rides was held on Nov. 29. This is the first ride of the series and the first ride for me, Irene Murphy, as ride manager to host. Thirty seven riders and numerous volunteers on horseback, hikers and vehicles came out to participate. The ride site was the 30 acre lot or the newly christened Four Peaks Campsite in the McDowell Mtn. Park in Fountain Hills, AZ. The campsite has water, hitching rails and porta-johns available and the park continues to upgrade the facilities. The trails used were primarily within the park boundaries and were a combination of sandy wash, rock and hard packed dirt. The weather was rainy in the week leading up to the ride which reduced the dust in the park and made the ride very pleasant.

On Friday before the ride a large group of volunteers (Stephanie Duross, A D Williams, Cindy, Dave, Corrin and Mark and Darrin Harper, Kayleen Helms, Mary Murphy) arrived at the campsite to begin marking trail. Sections were identified for each group and everyone took off with ribbons flapping. Meanwhile back at the basecamp we set up vetting and check in areas, filled water troughs and prepared for people to arrive. The riders began to arrive around noon, setting up camp, checking in and vetting in. Many local riders trailered over to check and vet in then returned home for the night. A pizza dinner was held in conjunction with the ride meeting on Friday night. Because of the close proximity to Fountain Hills we were able to use the local restaurants to have hot food available. After the ride meeting many locals returned home for the evening after enjoying the dark starry night.

The morning of the ride came early with some last minute preparations required to finish the trail marking. It was discovered that a portion of the morning loop was not completely marked so a volunteer (Donna and horse Harley) offered to leave at first light and try and complete the trail. If it was not possible it was communicated to the riders that they were to go to the water and back only. We traveled to the water stop to make sure that everyone received the message. The ride began at 8am and the riders were off. A photographer (Joe Fanthorp) was present throughout the ride and took pictures of the start and several points on the trail throughout the day. The goal for this ride was to have prints available as part of the completion awards as well as digital downloads after the ride on the website.

The ride progressed until we received word that a rider (Lucian Spataro) had been thrown and the horse (Masquerade) had run off. Quickly we reorganized the volunteers so that people could go and assist the rider in locating his horse. We split up the trucks, tanks and checklists to make sure all the key points were covered and that no one would go too long without water. Additionally, the Spataro’s contacted the sheriff’s department so helicopter searches of the park added to the ride.

The first set of riders arrived at the vet check between 10:45 and 1:00pm for a 1 hour hold at basecamp. We had a few rider option pulls and one metabolic incident where the horse recovered quickly after receiving fluids. Because of the loss of key volunteers lunch was not available for the riders as it was at a remote check location. The vets however, quickly told us of this issue and we managed for someone to go and retrieve our food so that we could at least feed the vets. (we did however, still have soda available.) The weather was beautiful and sunny all day which made the site very pleasant especially when the vets were no longer hungry.

The first riders arrived at the finish in the 2 o’clock hour and we completed CRIs and best condition judging. First place and best condition were awarded to Dayna Weary. The primary sponsor for the ride was Renegade Hoof boots who had rewards for the top ten placings and best condition. The Western Ranchman Feed Store provide completion awards for the remaining finishes. Pictures were also provided for all riders.

The riders continued to complete throughout the afternoon and after dark with the last rider arriving around at 7:30 pm.

Meanwhile, the search for Masquerade continued. The volunteers continued to scour the desert for some sign of the missing horse. While they were hiking, though, they noticed that the rider was not as well off as previously thought. Calls were placed to 911 and paramedics sent to ba secamp to meet up with the volunteers vehicles. Lucian was taken to the hospital and emergency surgery performed for severe internal injuries that he received during the fall.

The search was called off at night unsuccessfully due to the darkness.

Sunday morning the volunteers returned to basecamp with fresh horses and 4-wheelers to both continue the search and clean up the basecamp and trails. It was disappointing to see the condition of basecamp after the riders had left. Clean up took many people all day to haul manure, hay and in some cases shavings to the dumpster to avoid the fines imposed by the park. Helicopters arrived and the search began again. Riders went out in multiple directions and again searched the park. Reporters arrived at the basecamp and began to put together a news report for the evening news. The search continued unsuccessfully for the second day and was again called when darkness fell.

Monday morning came after the reward announcement played on the Channel 5 news Sunday evening and additional people showed up, many of which were attracted by the reward offer. We focused on those on horseback and I received calls constantly while we again rode out into the park. We located several of the wild horses in the park as well as a chestnut foal that had been separated from its mother but reunited. I was fortunate to be able to borrow a horse (Kahn) from Lancette Koerner to ride on Monday after my own mare (Passion) was injured on Sunday and unable to ride a second day.

The search continued through the day and we were joined by the MCSO search and rescue squad which added numerous pairs of eyes continuing to search the park.

Just as we were heading back to the trail head we began to hear reports that they had found Masquerade. A riders stallion began calling and Masquerade came out of hiding and approached their group. He was led out of the park and trailered to be reunit ed with his owner.