Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Reed Kessler - Youngest Show Jumper on Team USA

This is Reed Kessler.  She is only 18 years old and the youngest show jumper on Team USA in the 2012 Olympics.  I can't believe she made it into the Olympics beacasue she is only 8 years older than me!!  Her birthday was just in time on July 9th, when she turned 18 and became a "senior jumper" to become eligible for the games.  Good luck Reed!!  ~Declan

Athlete Alerts
United States

Reed Kessler

Hometown:Armonk, NY
Ht/Wt:5'5" / 119 lbs
Instant success
Reed Kessler only became eligible to become a senior jumper this year, but jumped into the Olympic mix at just 17 years old. Kessler finished tied for first in March’s Olympic Trials and split the USEF National Show Jumping Championship title with veteran Margie Engle. It was the first time jumping senior level heights for both Kessler and her horse, Cylana. That was the start of a special spring for Kessler, which led to her selection to the team.

In her younger days
Kessler may only be 18, but she has racked up some serious accomplishments at the junior stage. In 2010, her and Mika, one of her other top horses, were on the bronze medal winning team at the 2010 Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. In February 2010, Kessler and Swedish warmblood gelding Ligist won the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Jumper Championship.

From the cradle to the saddle
Kessler began her time on horses at just six months old when her parents – who have both been riding for over 30 years – put her in a basket and brought her along for a ride. She started competing in show jumping at 12 years old and never looked back.

Cylana and Mika
Kessler will ride Cylana at the Olympics, but she also has a strong horse in Mika, who with Kessler is the third alternate. Both are young and inexperienced but both are proving their athleticism early. “Both of them are, in my opinion, Olympic caliber horses. Cylana is just a freak. It’s not normal to have a horse for only a few months like we have and have a partnership like we have.”

Equestrian: Team USA!!

TEAM USA!!  Here are the USA's Equestrian Olympians!!  ~Declan

Equestrian: Team USA

The U.S. equestrian team is set in all three disciplines - dressage, eventing and show jumping.
Beezie Madden and McLain Ward return to the show jumping team looking for their third-straight Olympic gold medals in the team event. They will be joined by youngster Reed Kessler and World Cup champion Rich Fellers.
The U.S. dressage team will consist of Steffen Peters, Tina Konyot and Jan Ebeling. American Adrienne Lyle will compete at the Olympics as an individual rider and her score will not count toward the team score. Peters is considered a gold medal contender. Ebeling has drawn media attention recently due to one of his horses owners, Ann Romney, wife of politician Mitt Romney.
The three-day event team will consist of Boyd Martin, Karen O'Connor, Phillip Dutton, Tiana Coudray and Will Coleman. This is the fifth Olympics each for Dutton and O'Connor.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Canadian Ian Miller Competes in Record Setting 10th Plympics

WOW!!!!  This is AWESOME!!   ~Declan

Canadian jumper Ian Millar will compete in a record-setting 10th Olympics

Ian Millar will compete in his record-setting 10th Olympics in London (AP)The first time Ian Millar competed in the Olympics, gasoline cost an average of 36 cents a gallon, crowds were flocking to see The Godfather in movie theaters and Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" topped Billboard's rock charts.

Millar, a Canadian show jumper, has participated in the equestrian competition at every Olympics since 1972 except for the 1980 Moscow Games that Canada boycotted. The 65-year-old will make his record-breaking 10th Olympic appearance in London, eclipsing the nine trips Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl made from 1964 to 1996.

"It's a great thrill to be doing this for the 10th time," he told the Associated Press earlier this month. "I never had a grand plan. It was all about the journey because the destination is, at best, very uncertain as it is in life."

Why would Millar still be competing when he's more than three times as old as some of the other Team Canada members he walked alongside during Friday's Opening Ceremony? Well, the major reason is he feels he's still getting better.

Millar won a silver medal at the 2007 Pan-American Games, placed in the top 25 in the individual competition at the past two Olympics and helped lead Canada to a silver medal in the team competition at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

"I have so much more experience (now), so much more knowledge and my capabilities are so much higher," Millar told Canoe.ca earlier this month. "Therefore, my chances of success are way greater."

Canada is not one of the favorites to medal this year in the team competition, so Millar will probably have to surprise in the individual side to contend for his second-ever Olympic medal. He'll ride a horse called "Star Power," a fitting name for one of the few jumpers in a little-known sport to achieve fame in his home country.

Millar's nickname in equestrian circles is "Captain Canada," but he did not have the honor of carrying the Canadian flag during the Opening Ceremony. Perhaps officials from Team Canada opted to save that for 2016 because they assume Millar will be back for Olympics No. 11.

Friday, July 27, 2012

How Horses Get To The Olympics!

I have been wondering how all the horses get to the Olympics - haven't you?  The horses have to travel by plane overseas to get to London and are treated very well while on the plane They have a veterinarian and their grooms with them the whole ride.  The people taking care of the horses make sure they have everything they need.  

When the horses arrive in England, they are treated extremely well because England is a country that really likes their horses!  ~Declan

How do horses travel overseas to the London Olympics?

FedEx and other specialists help transport equine athletes to the Olympic Games. And, yes, they actually have passports.

By John PlattWed, Jul 18 2012 at 12:57 PM EST

Olympic Equestrian Events
Photo: Singapore 2010     Youth Olympic Games/Flickr
The 2012 Olympic Games begin on July 27, but many of the most specialized athletes have been in London for several weeks. We're talking about horses, of course — the highly trained equines that will be at the heart of the dressage, eventing and jumping competitions.
"Our eventing horses have been there about four weeks," says Joanie Morris, press officer for the United States Equestrian Foundation in Lexington, Ky. "Our dressage horses arrived July 9." The rest of the horses followed over the next few days.
Getting the animals overseas wasn't as big a task as you might think. All it took was a little help from Federal Express and a few talented people who specialize in transporting animals.
The horses, which come from all over the United States, converged on Newark International Airport in New Jersey, where they were loaded onto specialized jet stalls, which look like the horse trailers you see driving down the road but which are designed for air travel. Two horses go into each stall, which is then loaded on a palette and onto the pressurized upper deck of a FedEx cargo plane. "They have hay and water and someone stays with them the whole time to make sure they have everything they need," Morris tells MNN.
The horses are accompanied by a veterinarian and groomers who know the animals well. "These horses are all older animals who are used to travel," Morris explains. "Horses in general are pretty good travelers, so they don't mind their overseas adventure."
All of the horses were approved for travel before they left by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which checked their paperwork — they actually have passports — to verify their identities and inoculations. Only a few hours of quarantine time is required, since the animals will not be staying indefinitely in England.
"England is a very horse-friendly country," Morris says. "It's a huge part of their culture. We have horses that go back and forth to England a lot." If the animals had been traveling to other countries with different rules, quarantine times might have been much longer. They will be quarantined again for 36 hours when they return to the U.S.
For many of the animals, the overseas flight may have been the shortest leg of their trip. "It's a shorter trip than a horse trailer driving from New York to Florida," Morris says.
Traveling by plane is usually quite safe for horses, says Susan Kayne, team manager at Unbridled Racing and executive producer of Unbridled TV. She says the bigger risk for the animals is once they land: "More of an issue to the horse comes with the different water and feeds they intake in their new environment, which could cause a digestive interruption and possibly lead to other complications such as colic." MNN reached out to several animal-rights groups, including the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to see if transporting animals by plane is safe and humane. PETA declined to comment.
After arriving in England, the animals were transported by van to Stanstead, England, where they rejoined their trainers and riders and rested for about 24 hours to shake off any jetlag before continuing their training. "These horses are all very, very fit and have been working all year," Morris says. She reports that none of the horses had any issues that prevented them from training after their arrived in Stanstead.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation and the U.S. Olympic Committee split the cost of transporting the animals to England. They did not disclose the cost, but shipping expert Tim Dutta, whose company arranges all of the travel for the USEF, told NPR that FedEx charges by the pound — no small fee for animals that each weigh about 1,100 pounds or more.
The American horses aren't unique in their travels. Some of Canada's equine athletes flew from Washington, D.C., according to the Horse Junkies United blog. Horses from Australia recently took similar flights, although their trips took about three times as long as those from Newark to London. European horses had it the easiest: a shuttle through the Eurotunnel takes just 35 minutes, according to a report from Reuters.
The Olympic equestrian events run through Aug. 7, with the final medals being awarded on Aug. 9. After that, most of the horses will head right back home, unless they are staying in Europe for another competition. But the majority, Morris says, "will have some downtime where they can enjoy their success and have a break from all of the training."

North Carolina Legislation Introduced to Protect Wild Horses

Thank you Senator Kay Hagan (NC) and Senator Richard Burr (NC) for trying to protect North Carolina's wild horses on the Outer Banks!!  ~Declan

ASPCA Welcomes Senate Bill to Protect North Carolina Wild Horse Herd
Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act ensures survival of Outer Banks' historic horse herd

July 26,2012

ASPCA Media Contact

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today applauds Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) for introducing legislation to protect the free-roaming wild horses living on the Outer Banks in Currituck County, N.C. The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act, S.3448, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to enter into a new agreement with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, Currituck County, and the state of North Carolina to provide for the management of wild horses in and around the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge.

"These iconic horses have played an important role in North Carolina's history, and it is vital that they continue to flourish for years to come," said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. "The management agreement creates a safety net so that the Corolla horses will be able to thrive in their natural habitat in the event of a disease outbreak, natural disaster, or other similar threat."

The Corolla wild horse herd can be traced back to the arrival of Spanish explorers on the Outer Banks in the 16th century. Despite access to roam across 7,500 acres of public and private land, the current law caps the maximum number of horses at 60, a population deemed too low to maintain the herd's genetic viability. The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act allows for a herd of no fewer than 110 horses, with a target population between 120 and 130 horses.

"The bipartisan Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act is a step in the right direction toward ensuring the long-term prosperity of the Corolla herd," said Sen. Hagan. "These horses are a state treasure and should be protected for future generations of North Carolinians to enjoy."

"The Corolla wild horses are one of the many natural treasures of our state, and people travel from across North Carolina and the country to see these wild horses in their natural habitat," said Sen. Burr. "I am proud to cosponsor this bill that will provide for the care and management of these wild-roaming horses and give local organizations and authorities the tools they need to manage these horses without excessive federal involvement."

In February, the House passed an identical version of the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act, H.R. 306, introduced by Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.).

The ASPCA has an extensive history of equine protection around the country and continues to assist domestic and wild horses through legislation, advocacy, targeted grants and enforcement of the carriage horse and cruelty laws in New York City. For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Horses Helping Kids With Disabilities

Check out this story about a little boy going to a program that helps kids with disabilities by letting the kids be with horses!  I think this story is so cool and it proves that horses are a big part of our nation and helping people to heal.  ~Declan

Horse therapy helps those with handicaps saddle up for success

Written by
Keianna Rae Harrison
Star correspondent
2:44 PM, Jul. 24, 2012

Terri Noffke's daughter, Brianna, saw her first rodeo during a family vacation when she was just 8 years old. Like any other little girl, Brianna wanted to join in during audience participation time, but couldn't.
"I had a mommy meltdown," Noffke said. "I wanted so badly for her to be able to participate, but I knew it wasn't safe."
Years later, with the help of the staff at Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding Center in Zionsville, Brianna, who is semi-handicapped, participated in her first rodeo. Now 19, Brianna has won several gold, bronze and silver medals riding horses in the Special Olympics.
Morning Dove and many facilities like it are providers of equine-assisted therapy, a practice that incorporates the use of horses to help with cognitive, developmental and behavioral difficulties in children and adults.
"We teach riding skills to clients age 3 to 99, and 30 percent of our clients are adults," said Kate Murphy, program director at Morning Dove. "Programs like ours are great for handicapped children who may not be able to participate in traditional sports. Riding a horse can make them feel special because it's a unique sports activity that they can do. We even use horses to provide therapy to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder."
Different from a traditional horseback-riding lesson, therapeutic riding incorporates the natural movements of a horse to provide calming effects during sessions that work especially well for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Morning Dove offers a variety of programs, including therapeutic riding, A Horse Like Me program for children with ASD, Heroes on Board veterans program, Crossroads Easterseals Camp Ability and hippotherapy.
According to the American Hippotherapy Association, hippotherapy is a physical, occupational and speech- language treatment strategy that uses equine movement as part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes.
Jacob Stricklen, 4, was recently diagnosed with autism. Jacob, who was born 7 1/2 weeks premature, walked and generally performed according to the developmental milestones of children his age.
"He did a lot of the 'normal' things a child should do, he just didn't communicate well," said his mother, Kristian Little. "He would use one or two words to talk when he should've been speaking in full sentences."
At 18 months, Jacob's doctors became concerned that he might be autistic. A family friend and equine-assisted therapist referred Kristian and Jacob to Strides to Success in Plainfield, where he will begin hippotherapy in the coming months.
"During hippotherapy, the horse is used as a therapeutic tool like a balance beam or stress ball," said Lisa Kobek, executive director of Theraplay, an outpatient rehabilitation clinic for children with special needs located in Carmel.
"Our kiddos spend 20 minutes on the back of the horse to improve cognitive ability, body movement, organization and attention levels. The remainder of the session is spent in a traditional physical or occupational therapy environment."
A relatively new form of treatment, the cost for equine-assisted therapy can be expensive. While organizations like Theraplay accept traditional medical insurance and Medicaid with a doctor's prescription, others do not.
However, scholarships may be available for income-eligible participants. Call ahead for details on pricing, programs, schedule and space availability.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Diamonds for Remi Safe from Slaughter

This is a story about a horse saved from slaughter by her previous owner who is now disabled.  Even though she did not have much money, she still wanted to save her horse.  This story proves, once again, that there is no such thing as a unwanted horse!  ~Declan

Horse rescued from slaughter is home safe near Citra

By Carlos E. MedinCorrespondent
Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 5:50 p.m.

Former racehorse Diamonds for Remi was days away from slaughter when the 18-year-old thoroughbred mare was spotted recently by a horse rescue worker in Watertown, N.Y.
A few phone calls later and the horse's breeder, Remi Gunn, was located at her Gunn Farm near Citra. Gunn was desperate to save the horse from the slaughterhouse, but did not have the money to buy back the mare and ship her to Florida.
Gunn, a jockey who was paralyzed in a riding accident in 2003, has struggled to keep her farm going. Fortunately, the North American Thoroughbred Aftercare Coalition ponied up the nearly $1,000 to reunite the two.

The horse arrived at the farm over the weekend and has settled into her former home nicely.
"I am so happy to have her back. I worry about the 30 other horses I had to get rid of after my accident and how many of them have gone to slaughter," Gunn said.
Stacy Ferris is part of the coalition that helped save the mare. The group is working on becoming a non-profit organization.
Diamonds for Remi was foaled in 1994. She made six lifetime starts between 1997 and 1998, with Gunn as her jockey. She never finished better than fifth and earned less than $500 in purses, according to Equibase, which maintains an extensive database on North American racehorses.
Gunn eventually sold her to a family whose daughter was participating in hunter/jumper activities. After that, she lost track of the mare and continued to breed and race and ride as a jockey.
Gunn rode professionally for eight years. She mostly rode her own horses or her friends' horses and had a habit of singing "Oklahoma" to her mounts as they came down the stretch.
In 2003, in the midst of her most successful year as a jockey, she was thrown from her mount during a race at Ellis Park in Kentucky. The spill fractured several of her vertebrae and severed her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down.
During her recovery, she was forced to disperse her other horses, but was determined to keep her farm, which includes a 3/4-mile training track. She has survived by leasing barn space to two other thoroughbred trainers and raises one or two horses of her own. She has help from her children, but struggles to make ends meet.
"With the economy the way it is, it's hard. I can't get what I paid for the farm and I can't charge what I used to. It's a really tough time," she said.
Gunn just recently recovered enough from a bedsore to get around in a wheelchair. The wound kept her bedridden for nearly two years.
It is Gunn's love of horses that has kept her going. She fell in love with them as a 2-year-old when she rode a Shetland pony at an Easter festival. She remembers getting in line time and time again for hours to ride. 
"It was hot and the ponies were sweating and smelled, and the leather creaked. There is nothing like it. I loved that smell. It's hard for people to understand," she said. "We'd go on vacations during the summer and I would always feel I was back when I got to the barn and breathed in that smell."
Gunn later competed in equestrian events and got involved in the thoroughbred industry in the early 1990s.
On Tuesday, Diamonds for Remi munched on her feed in a large stall. She is still a little skittish, but has started to calm down.
"We were really fortunate with Diamonds, because once they are on the kill van, the buyer usually won't take them off," Ferris said.
Horse slaughter is a controversial issue in the United States. In 2007, the last slaughter house in the country was closed. However, horses from the U.S. are shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. The majority of the meat is exported to Europe or Japan for human consumption.
Back at the farm, Diamonds for Remi also was reunited with her "nanny," Homer, a 23-year-old gelded thoroughbred that has served as a companion for all of Gunn's young horses and pregnant broodmares.
"People say they don't remember, but I think somewhere they do," Gunn said of the equines.
"I just want her to eat grass, relax and have nothing expected of her for the rest of her life," she said of Diamonds for Remi.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mini Visits Nursing Homes

Here is a story about a miniature horse with lots of shoes (I really like the shoes), who is helping comfort older people.  I really like this story a LOT!!  ~Declan

Miniature horse makes nursing home rounds

July 23, 2012 6:18 am OLIVIA KOESTER

RACINE — “You’re so pretty,” Oak Ridge Nursing Home resident Dorothy Estberg cooed when Whisper, a miniature horse, came up to her wheelchair.
As Estberg stroked Whisper’s white and brown paint coat, she said Whisper reminded her of the horses her family kept when she was growing up, though Whisper is quite a bit smaller at 29 inches tall.
Other residents began poking their heads out of their rooms, lining up to have their turn with the horse.
“Everybody’s got to see her,” Activity Director Jeanine Hying said. “This has been the talk ever since I put the calendar up.”
Led by owner Alyssa Kohls, 20, of Caledonia, a volunteer through Creature Comforts, Whisper made her second visit to the Oak Ridge Nursing Home, 1400 8th Ave., Union Grove, on Thursday.
Whisper — 3 years old, 161 pounds and fully grown — has been making rounds at Racine County nursing homes since March, though she is not yet certified as an official therapy horse.
Barb Hugier, director of Creature Comforts, hopes to change that before the end of the summer. “We would like her to become Racine’s first therapy mini-horse,” she said.
With such a status, “it makes her sound that much better,” Kohls said. “It makes people feel that much better about her coming.”
Most residents are quite pleased with her visits now — chasing her down the hallway and even following her into other residents’ rooms. One woman abandoned her walker to go to the horse’s side.
Perhaps the one thing that delighted residents more than the horse herself was the fact that she was wearing shoes — from Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Whisper sports hoofwear for practical reasons: On the tile floors, “she would slide if I didn’t have shoes on her,” Kohls said.
Whisper has quite a collection of hoofwear, more than five pairs of shoes, including black Converse and Hello Kitty tennis shoes.
On Thursday, Whisper was sporting new patriotic tennis shoes to match a blanket that Hugier made her.
Despite her rather feminine attire, residents almost always ask if she is a boy or girl. Another popular question: Has she had any babies? She has not.
Kohls has been riding horses since she was 7, and she has wanted a miniature horse since before she can remember. One year ago, Kohls rescued Whisper from a household that was hoarding more than 80 miniatures without feeding them, she said.
Whisper is house-trained, a process that was incredibly easy, according to Kohls. She only had one accident in the house before she learned to stand by the door when she needed to be let outside. “She’s very, very smart,” Kohls said.
Once Kohls and Whisper got to know one another, Kohls started looking for ways to volunteer with her.
In addition to nursing homes in Racine County, Kohls takes Whisper to visit the mentally disabled in Neenah, her hometown.
“She has such a good personality, it would just be a waste if I didn’t do it,” Kohls said.