A Hunting We Will Go

It’s been a

First Hunt of the Season
This was the first time this fall that I’ve been able to hunt.
Zelda after she rolled.
Zelda after the hunt and after she had the chance to roll in the sand.

This fall has been busy. What with travel and work and the threat of ground bees, I haven’t had the chance to hunt. I almost didn’t make it today. I slept a bit late, discovered there was no hitch on the truck when I went to hitch the trailer and then, there was the weather. The forecast was rain. I hate hunting in the rain because it’s hard to see out of my glasses.

However, I soldiered on. The hunt was so close to where I keep my horses that I really had no excuse. Then I arrived at the hunt and discovered that the zipper on my right boot was stuck.

Hacking home
Despite the forecasted rain, the weather was excellent for hunting. Cool and a bit of a mist, which left horses and hounds energized.

Luckily, I had just bought a new pair of boots and had brought them along (premonition?). It isn’t ideal to wear new boots for the first time out hunting, but I escaped with only some minor rubs.

Zelda was a good girl. She was a bit bouncy at first but by the time we reached the first check, she was starting to slow down and actually trotted a bit. I always have to laugh at her because while she strenuously objects to any kind of collection in the ring, out hunting she can practically canter in place.

The hunt was about six miles.
The hunt was about six miles. It’s a nice territory with some big open fields, a good run by the river and only a few places where ground bees lurked.



Fall is Here


While it’s hard to let the warm weather go — after all, it will be winter before we know it — riding in the crisp fall afternoon is such a treat. The light is sharper, the air is clearer and Zelda has a lot more energy. We had a good five mile ride as we watched the shadows get longer and the last of the sun’s rays illuminated the trees. I can’t think of a better way to end the work week.

Lesson Learned: Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship and horsemanship are two of the qualities that we hope to see at the highest levels of competition. Which is why this video has made such an impression. Johnson & Johnson heiress Jazz Johnson-Merton fell off her horse Joe Cool at the Hampton Classic last week. It wasn’t her horse’s fault, Merton simply came unseated after a jump, but after getting to her feet, she tried to kick him in the stomach before leading him out of the ring. Unfortunately for her, the incident was caught on video, which has since gone viral.

One of the class judges, Chris Wynn told Chronicle of the Horse of Johnson, “She got up, lost her temper and tried to kick the horse in the stomach. I’m not sure she made contact . . . It was one of those gray areas of, ‘Was it unsportsmanlike?’

Jazz Merton and Joe Cool
Jazz Merton and Joe Cool at a more successful event.

Absolutely. Did it really hurt the horse? Probably not.”

But what she did do was highlight the how people should not act toward their horses. Certainly not adults.

Jazz Merton sent the following letter to the USEF, which investigated the incident, and shared it with the Chronicle of the Horse, which published the video. I’m afraid I don’t buy the apology. The fall was not serious (hence, I’m not sure why she was scared). She was certainly angry, and based on her horse’s response, it’s not the first time she went postal on him. Let’s just hope she really did learn her lesson and starts to treat her very nice horse with the care and compassion he deserves.

“One of the greatest pleasures in my life has been riding and showing horses, and I have enjoyed this hobby since I was a little girl.

“In the recent incident at the Hampton Classic, I had a very inappropriate emotional response to my horse’s behavior, one that I have never had before. I was scared and angry, and reacted very badly. For that I am deeply sorry. My reaction was short lived, and immediately after I realized my mistake, I got back on to jump a schooling fence in order to finish the day on a trusting note with this horse.

“I can assure you that the apology that I gave to the stewards at the time and this plea to you now is genuine. I will never again exhibit this unprofessional display of aggression and poor sportsmanship.

“It pains me to see that I have brought negative attention to our sport, the sport that is most dear to me.

“Please accept my apology. Sincerely, Jazz Merton”


Puissance in the Park

Which is more daunting, the 6’9″ Puissance wall or the hack between the ring and the stabling areas at the Central Park Horse Show?

Emanuel Andrade (VEN) and Clouwni are shown “hailing a cab” over the wall. Although this was Andrade’s first Puissance competition, he pulled off a three-way tie with Kama Godek (USA) and De Grande and Todd Minikus (USA) and VDL Excel.

Almost more exciting is the video that Godek shot as she hacked her Puissance mount back to the stabling area where the face a ton of baby carriages, bikers, roller bladers, food trucks, brick tunnels and a lot of other things not typically confronted by a Grand Prix jumper. Sure, Da Grande was a bit skittish, but the pair get high marks for bravery both in and out of the ring.

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.