I worked at New England Equine Practice, a large referral equine hospital in Putnam County New York for two years, and in that time, I met Dr. Matthew Eliott, one of their practicing equine veterinarians. I spent most of my days in the equine pharmacy, which gave me an opportunity to chat with most of the techs and doctors; his was always a friendly face when he came through the door. One day, he mentioned that he wrote a book, and being very gracious, gave me a signed copy.
I swore to myself that I would read it, and as soon as my schedule allowed, I grabbed the chance.
Stallside, My Life with Horses and Other Characters, is a really fun and interesting book. Dr. Eliott takes his readers all around the globe, following his life growing up in Jamaica and New York, his internship working with zoo animals in Ohio to working as an equine vet in California.
These memories are wonderfully entwined with vet stories from the Dr.’s point of view; all creatures big and bigger, of sorts. What I really found entertaining was not just his description of what vets do when they work up your horse, but WHY they do it with medical explanations (in ways the layman can understand).
When Dr. Eliott isn’t out on farm calls, he spends time riding his steeds and tending to his gorgeous Riverhorse Farm, in North Salem, NY.
Horse lovers, and animal lovers in general, will find this a fun, informative and great book to read anywhere, but I suggest it would be a refreshing summer read while sitting on a bale of hay next to your best four legged friend, eating carrots and sipping rose!
My son Dane has ridden horses for years, but only recently decided to start showing and get a little more serious. This past Sunday, we took him to his first show at Gardnertown Farms across the Hudson in Newburgh, NY. I don’t know who was more nervous, him or me! He looked very dashing in his show coat and tie. I told him it would look better with a sparkle unicorn t-shirt (like the ones you can buy in my store) but he disagreed <wink>.
Dane has been training for showing with Angelo Danza at Three Phase Equestrian Center / AD Sporthorses, and it’s been amazing to watch him improve and ready himself for this level of intensity. I’ve always been proud of his ability to bond with horses, especially the very forward and sweet thoroughbred Greta (show name “Game Face”), he was riding today.
The first class out of three, was a crazy course with 14 jumps. I looked at the map and realized that this event was almost more about memory than equitation. The rain was varying from light to medium and was probably a blessing as it would have been very hot in the afternoon sun. The small crowd of watchers gathered under the trees by the event ring as the riders strenuously repeated the course in their heads, “red, red, outside, diagonal, oxer – no, brown!”
The first rider rode and cleared, though her horse was an unwilling participant, shying and fighting the whole way. I hoped Dane was paying close attention but I’m sure the first event butterflies were not helping him concentrate. After a couple more riders, it was his turn.
The whistle blew and he was off. One jump and then another went smoothly but Greta was excited and running super fast. Angelo was calling out instructions from ringside, mostly to “slow down!” but Dane was struggling to steady the pace.
Eventually around the twelfth jump he made a wrong turn and the beep-beep of the “rider off course” ended his first run. But for a first run it was great – fast (too fast!) and he had almost finished. To add to the excitement he knocked over a standard on the way out (still going fast) and Angelo went to pick it up for him.
Dane was clearly frustrated but we told him it was an amazing first run. The rain drizzled on and the riders cycled through the second round until it was Dane’s turn again. They had changed the jump order and he nearly got it except for a wrong turn right at the end. Beep-beep! So close, but Greta was feeling more confident, as was Dane.
As the last round got going my husband worked with Dane to memorize the jump order as they watched the other riders. Then it was time to run again. Dane made one jump after another . I heard Greta hit a pole in the middle but I didn’t see if it fell. A tight turn into the final jump (“let her see it!” called Angelo) and he had finished his first successful run! Great Father’s Day Gift!
The riders went to put the horses back in the trailer while we waited for the results. We knew he wouldn’t be placing in the first two incomplete rounds but then I heard them announce the third, “First Place, Dane Beels and Gameface”. A blue ribbon on his first competition! The other kids cleaned up as well! He makes me one proud horse Mom!
May your holiday be filled with love and happiness, and yes, maybe a horse or two :). We spent the days before Christmas with our buddies Chance and Ron, who didn’t complain that they got their presents a couple days early. A belly full of candy canes kept Ronnie from wanting to work ;). Today, after a big present-opening extravaganza, our tummies will be treated to a prime rib roast (Happy Christmas to me), some hot toddies and old-timey Christmas music. Nothing better.
Please share how you spend Christmas with your family (or post videos/pictures) in the comments – I love to hear different family traditions.
Now that the weather has started to turn colder, we’re all starting to pull our musty horse blankets out from deep storage. If you’re looking to purchase a new blanket, or even searching through used blankets, getting the best available size is very important. If a blanket doesn’t fit correctly, it can cause discomfort (even rubs or sores), get stuck on a fence or tree branch, or even completely fall off and to get trampled.
When I purchased my first blanket (after adopting Chance), I got it on super sale from eBay, and prayed that it would fit my horse. It didn’t, and I couldn’t return it. Good money thrown down the drain. After that, I decided to actually measure my sweet boy and find something in his size range.
Use the following tips to get the best size for your steeds and for a final fitting, please see the guide below from Your Horse Magazine. They posted a very comprehensive and easy-to-follow tutorial on YouTube.
Make sure your horse is standing square.
Have a soft tape measure or a long string available (having a friend to help is always nice!)
Start measuring at the center of the chest (between the two chest muscles).
Stretch out the tape measure or string up the broad side of the horse and all the way around to where the hair starts to hit the buttock.
Keep the tape measure tight and level for the best measurement.
This measurement will be your horse’s blanket size, in inches. (If you used a string, mark on the string where you started and ended and then measure the string between these marks.)
If you are between sizes, order a size up for the best fit.
Remember that size varies between brands, so do a little research on the brand’s sizing for best results.
Now the shopping fun begins!! Look at all the cute blanket choices that are available these days:
A couple years back, I met the artist Beatrice Bulteau at the Equus Film Festival in New York City, where her short, En Lusitaine (above) won Best Artistic Film. Born in the countryside of Loire France, she is currently based in Portugal and works in a number of mediums. Porcelain, print, watercolor, animation, illustration; there’s nothing she cannot do. I instantly fell in love with her simple but elegant aesthetic as she celebrates the clean beauty and noble nature of her frequent subject, the Lusitano Horse.
I will have to save some money to have one of her original watercolor pieces grace my humble home’s walls, however, I can adorn my body with either one of her new clothing pieces or leather handbags. I do recall a gorgeous maxi dress in one of her promotional ads, but I cannot find it to order (please comment below if anyone knows where to find it). I will be ordering one of her beautiful t-shirts (perfect for a night out or a ride in the ring). Her original handbags and silk scarves, as well as any of her artistic works can be purchased online at BeatriceBulteau.com.
My sweet steed, Chance, is really shaping up. Minus an old stifle injury as a colt, he’s been sound. He’s not going to any grand prix competitions any time soon (neither would I, by the way), but he has gotten in shape enough to “compete” in some regional hunter paces. My son rode in last weekend’s Rombout Foxhounds Hunter Pace up by Hyde Park, NY.
The hunt club did a wonderful job setting up the jumps (all decorated beautifully), tabletops and food. Catering was delicious (pumpkin soup, chili and desserts too numerous to count)!
I love hunter paces. From beginners to super-competitive riders, all are welcome. Dane (my son) and Chance had lots of fun and Team Beech Hill (our group of three riders/horses) did great! Not in the ribbons, but there were many teams and their time was pretty darn good.
Have any of you done hunter paces? How do you like them? Post your pictures/videos here or on our Facebook page!