Pony’s life transformed by rescue

It’s hard to imagine the level of ignorance — or downright cruelty — which would result in letting a pony’s feet to grow into curlicue horns. It’s likely his feet hadn’t been trimmed in a decade. That’s right, 10 years.

Poly unloaded
Poly’s feet were so long he could barely walk off the trailer. Vets estimate his hooves hadn’t been trimmed in 10 years.

Poly and a horse, now named Everest, were kept out of sight from the public until their owner turned them into the Animaux en Péril sanctuary in Belgium. They were found severely emaciated and standing in nearly two feet of manure. Poly weighed only 154 pounds — a far cry from the 450 pounds of a normal Shetland pony.

Farrier care
The farrier had to saw through Poly’s overgrown hooves.

Once there, Poly and Everest were bathed and body clipped, then Poly’s hooves were treated by a farrier, who had to saw through the overgrown horn. Just the weight of the hooves was enough to cause the pony distress.

Although Poly’s feet are much better, he may never overcome the damage that was done to his joints.

Although severely mistreated by the humans in his life, the sanctuary reports that Poly is a gently soul who continues to trust his caretakers.

Poly and his friend Everest were extremely lucky to have found refuge. Please consider making a donation to the sanctuary.



Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, dies at 95

Penny Chenery
Penny Chenery after Secretariat won the Triple Crown.

Helen “Penny” Chenery, known as “Secretariat’s Mom” and the First Lady of Racing, died September 16th from complications following a stroke. Chenery was 95.

Chenery is best known for breathing life into her father’s Meadow Stable when his failing health left him unable to manage the farm. This part of her story became immortalized in the Disney movie, Secretariat, which shows her working against the odds in an industry dominated by men.

Penny Chenery
Penny Chenery, Secretariat and Ronnie Turcotte after the Triple Crown.

What the movie didn’t tell us was what an interesting and accomplished woman Penny Chenery was even before she bred Riva Ridge and Secretariat, fulfilling her father’s dream to win the Kentucky Derby not once, but twice.

Penny graduated from Smith College in 1943. Eager to help with the war effort, her first job was working for the naval architecture firm that designed Normandy landing craft. She then served as a nurse’s aide in a stateside hospital. In 1946, Chenery went to France and Germany with the American Red Cross, working with demobilizing GIs. Once home, she

Penny Chenery with Secretariat.
Penny Chenery with Secretariat.

entered Columbia Business School, one of only 20 women in her class. However, just six months before graduation, she became engaged to Jack Tweedy, a Columbia Law graduate. Her father pressured her to quit and concentrate on her wedding and she complied.

Chenery put that business school training to work when she ran Meadow Stable, taking the farm out of the red while also breeding two of the best racehorses ever.

Chenery went on to blaze more trails in the Thoroughbred Racing industry. To name just a few of her accomplishments,  she was the first female president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, was one of the first women elected to the Jockey Club, was the president of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, helped form the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and, in 2006 won the Eclipse Award of Merit for lifetime contributions to the Thoroughbred industry. In recent years, she advocated for laminitis research and care advancement as well as efforts to ban the use of performance-enhancing drugs in racing.

A true ambassador for the sport of racing, she was a great advocate for the horses. As she put it, “The horse can’t talk – but I can.”

The best weekend to buy a helmet

International Helmet Awareness Day
September 16-17 is International Helmet Awareness Day. Riders4 Helmets has partnered with hundreds of retailers to offer discounts on helmets this weekend.

Thinking of buying a new helmet? This is the weekend to do it! Hundreds of retailers are offering discounts on helmets as part of International Helmet Awareness Day.

The helmet brands that have committed involvement in International Helmet Awareness Day 2017 are: Caldene, Champion, Charles Owen, Gatehouse, GPA, Harry Hall Hats, International Riding Helmets (IRH), Kask, KEP Italia, LAS helmets (Leslie Sutcliffe UK), One K, Ovation, Samshield, Tipperary, Troxel and Uvex.

Riders4Horses began the initiative to educate equestrians about the importance of wearing helmets every ride in 2010 as a direct result of US Olympian Courtney King Dye’s accident — an accident that demonstrated that bad falls and Traumatic Brain Injuries can happen to the best riders, even when riding on good footing and in a controlled environment.

Don’t miss your chance to get a great price on an approved, well-fitted helmet and keep your brain safe for another year.

Helmet Haiku

Helmet Haiku
As international Helmet Awareness Day approaches, Saddle Seeks Horse is running a Helmet Haiku contest. Click on the photo to go the site and read the rules.
Friends with helmets
Getting ready to ride out on a hunter pace with our helmets!

What a fun way to increase awareness of the importance of helmets! I’m not a poet, but here’s my haiku. And yes, I wear a helmet every time I ride.

Flying through the air
I have time to celebrate
My helmet wisdom.

Getting Fit

Our Workout
To get my horses — and me — ready to hunt, we need to cover some miles. I track my rides on MapMyRun.

The end of my summer was busy. And it didn’t include a lot of riding. So now I need to get myself and the equines in shape for hunting. Pronto.

Zelda is happy to stop and enjoy the view.
Zelda is happy to stop and enjoy the view.

The only way to do that is to cover some miles. Right now I’m riding the horses about five miles per day doing walk/trot intervals. Zelda is a bit more “fluffy” than Freedom (who manages to keep himself pretty fit), so the ride above shows her intervals. Tracking my time per mile is something I find very helpful because it keeps us moving and it provides a fitness baseline.

I am hoping to hunt Freedom this Saturday; Zelda needs to be able to hold a faster pace over that distance before she goes out.

How do you leg up your horses?


We’ll Never Forget

This commercial is particularly poignant to me because on the morning of 9/11, I was listening to the radio at the barn when the first plane struck the North Tower of World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. I couldn’t believe my ears then and I am still stunned by the magnitude of what happened.


I swear that Freedom can read. He took that caution warning very seriously.

How do you know when you’re riding a thoroughbred? Well, first off, I think they can read. While I was traveling, a new gate and some very yellow caution tape appeared at the entrance to our trail system.

Secondly, they are very sensitive to new things. They remember exactly what the trail looked like the last time they walked down it. Freedom took one look at the tape and the gate and started to shake. He thought seriously about bolting. Can’t you see it says caution? He asked me. We need to get out of here!

Not wanting to escalate the situation, I dismounted and stood with him by the tape. The wind blew. The tape shook and rattled. Freedom snorted and jumped. Then he planted his feet.

No way
Two weeks ago he was afraid of the new cobblestones. They don’t seem so bad in comparison to the yellow tape.

We stood quietly and contemplated the new path and the rustling tape. I scratched his neck for awhile. He stretched way, way forward without moving his feet and sniffed the wood chips on the ground. After several minutes, he moved incrementally toward the path. In total, it took him about seven (long) minutes to walk through it with me in the lead. For several more minutes he jumped whenever he heard something rustle.

Coming home was better. I still had to dismount but he was content to follow me through. I love how he trusts me to be brave even when he isn’t.

Then I took out Zelda. Riding a draft cross is a completely different experience.

Zelda sees only grass
Zelda took a good look at the new gate and the glowing yellow tape. She was more interested in the grass.

Zelda looked at the new fence. She considered the caution tape. She looked long and hard at the grass growing behind the tape. She was mightily disappointed that she was not allowed to taste it. Then she walked through the gauntlet of tape onto the scary new wood chips like she had done it every day. I love this horse. She is smart. Sometimes she’s too smart, but she’s always thinking.

Coming home
Coming home was no big deal. But then again, she knew it was dinner time.