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HorseOwnerToday and Elaine Ward of Western Dressage in Canada

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 11, 2012 16:05

 

 

1.  Tell HorseOwnerToday about your journey to developing Western Dressage in Canada to where it is today.
I've been involved with Western Style dressage for the past 30 years. I was a successful youth rider, and did the 4H, Paint and Quarter Horse Shows. I was learning dressage at the time also. My first dressage lesson was back in 1973! When I started teaching professionally, I would have students that would come to me with their Western horses.  I would work on really basic dressage exercises to improve the gaits and suppleness of their horses, and work on the rider's  position. It's really no different for me. Good training is good training. I teach the horse to use his hind end, and teach the rider how to achieve it.  Ideally we want the horse to carry it's self. My best analogy to riders is to imagine the horse is like a motor boat. Without the power of the engine (the horses' hind end) to lift the bow (the horses' front end), you will never have a horse that is light and can carry it's self.
Western Style dressage as a discipline is so new, that our job right now is to educate riders to the benefits of it. To develop a better level of communication, and a higher level of learning. What's really cool about Western Style dressage is that it is a progressive training, and the levels of tests increase in difficulty to reflect that. Even if someone has no interest in showing, the tests are just that, the ability to ride patterns of increased difficulty and to ride to a standard.


2.  What changes have you seen in the the Dressage in Canada market in the past 5 years?

I think the market has really not changed. You have two types of riders out there. The competitive and the recreational rider. It has always stayed that way. But on the other hand, the generations are getting older. What I have discovered from talking to people is that the older riders no longer wish to sit in a dressage saddle. They find the Western Style of riding much more relaxed and less restrictive. Those riders have also gone out and purchased a more average moving horse with a good mind. They still want to learn dressage, but not on a big moving, active minded horse. They love the camaraderie of riding with friends, and still want to go out there and learn, but not with the big warmblood or hot Thoroughbred types anymore. I'm not saying that Western Style Dressage is for the older riders, but from looking at several studies, the demographics point to the over 45 rider. I have discovered the same thing from talking to people interested in Western Style Dressage.  WSD also is important to the youth out there too. We would like those riders to develop a good foundation for training, no matter which discipline they choose to ride. Dressage is the French word for Training. Training done correctly.

3.   What changes do you predict for the future of Western Dressage in Canada in the next 5 years? 


The goal of the Western Style Dressage Association is to get WSD out there to every corner of Canada, through demos, displays, clinics, etc. Our long term vision is to have Equine Canada except WSD as an actual discipline with a section in the rule book. In the mean time, it's all about education!  We would like to see WSD included in regular dressage competitions. We would like to have an affiliate in every Province!  http://westernstyledressage.ca/


"Ground Manners" by Cynthia D'Errico reviewed by Carol Upton

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   February 6, 2012 15:06

 

Ground Manners

A Novel

By Cynthia D’Errico

Xlibris

Soft Cover, 2011, $19.99

Hard Cover, 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 978-1-4568-2394-8

Available at: www.groundmannersnovel.com or on Amazon 

 

Reviewed by Carol M. Upton

 

Learning that horses were butchered for meat left many people feeling raw and lied to,

like suddenly finding out that your neighbour had barbecued your retriever or microwaved your cat.

Like so many others, Yanne was clearly unaware that, whether for meat or other reasons,

horses were slaughtered at all. ~ Part Three, Chapter Four, p. 116

 

Ground Manners. A Novel is an innovative synthesis of adventure, romance and animal advocacy. 

Cynthia D’Errico has produced a compelling tale based on true stories about Canada’s horse slaughter industry,

the dangers of continuing to ignore coastline erosion, and which features an especially intriguing thread on how

le Canadien became both Quebec’s heritage breed and the National Horse of Canada.

 

Through the thoughts of Ausencia, a slaughter-bound polo horse, the opening pages introduce us to the horse refuge

run by animal communicator Skye Spahro and her daughter on Isle-Saint-Jean- Baptiste. 

The Institute of Nature Communications, like many horse rescues across the country, 

is dedicated to the care and rehoming of abused horses, including the rescue of those slated for slaughter.          

 

The horses narrate a good part of the story as D’Errico performs skillful shifts from the human to the animal point of view.

These shifts are reminiscent of those in other classics like Babe and Black Beauty, with that same brilliant seamlessness

that keeps the reader fully engaged.  The character of each horse is carefully delineated so that when Ulric,

the eternally calm Belgian draft says:  “I don’t like the look of things, Tessa,” his ominous tone ushers the reader

into the darkness of the book’s last half.

 

The themes in this book require the reader to confront the moral dilemmas often present in horse ownership and

attempt to expand the reader’s vision of horses.   Yet the darkness is never overdone.  The storyline is simultaneously about love,

heroes and hope for lasting change in our treatment of animals and the planet – indeed of the very ground we walk on. 

D’Errico’s writing style intimately involves readers in the lives of her characters, human and animal,

in such a way that their world becomes difficult to leave as the book nears its gripping finale. 

 

Ground Manners is the tale that horse lovers have waited for, but also essential reading for anyone intent on

creating a more harmonious relationship with our planet.

It will definitely raise public consciousness and is sure to spark debate.

 

Dreams Aloud Promotions
~ Linking your dreams to the world
Website:      www.dreamsaloud.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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geriatric horses | rescue

Winter Wear

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 19, 2012 14:24

 

The Ditch Horse - Memoirs of a Horse Owner by Sam

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 11, 2012 07:51

Memoirs of a Horse Owner

 

Horsemanship ....... it is an art, a science, a tradition and a lifelong journey!

 

The articles written for www.Horseownertoday.com  are a collection of my personal memoirs as a horse owner.  They are about my experiences and about my understanding of horsemanship.  They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of www.Horseownertodaycom.com  and in some cases, they do not reflect the opinion of the majority of horse owners today.  They are about my journey toward understanding a horse.                                    

   The term "ditch horse" came up the other day.  I've never heard of a "ditch horse".  I have heard of a "ditch pig".  And that isn't a real good thing to call someone unless you are looking for a fight.  But the term "ditch horse" ... now that was new to me.  So I asked what it meant.

I was told that a ditch horse is a horse that is rode in the ditch or perhaps along the side of the field near the ditch or down a trail.  Apparently a ditch horse isn't worth a lot of money.  It generally comes from unregistered stock and therefore it is unregisterable and consequently, it is of limited value.  A ditch horse doesn't have a lot of training neither.  It is not capable of performing advanced maneuvers and it's competency in performing even the basic skills would be questionable.

    This analogy was made in comparison to a show horse.  Now I am familiar with the term "show horse".  I didn't need a lot of prompting to visualize a well turned out horse demonstrating its skill in the show ring.  But the implied prejudice between the job performed by a ditch horse and the job performed by a show horse left me feeling a little dismayed. 

   I understand that a registered horse would likely sell for more money than an unregistered horse.  But then there are times when an unregistered horse is worth a good dollar depending upon how well it can do a job.

  The thought of riding down a trail on a horse that doesn't have a lot of training left me feeling down right scared.  I would have thought that a ditch horse ought to be fairly well trained.   You might need it to respond in a safe and willing manner if you were to find yourself face to face with a big old grizzly bear while you were on the trail.

    And then a really upsetting thought crossed my mind .... my horses might be ditch horses.  I don't show any more.  I ride through fields and along trails.  I don't necessarily buy expensive horses and not all of my horses have papers to prove their worth.  They are good riding horses but nonetheless, based on the definition, they might be considered ditch horses. 

 

    I couldn't help but wonder, what do you call a horse that is rode along a trail and across a stream and in the mountains and has never seen a show ring yet it is professionally trained, pretty good at arena work, registered and out of imported and syndicated lines and was purchased for a good dollar?  I have one like that.  I have been calling him my pleasure horse.

   Or what do you call a horse that is rode along a trail and in riding lessons and clinics and pony club.  She has chased cows, been roped off of, and can run a barrel pattern but she has never competed in show.   She is not registered and I didn't pay a whole lot for her.  I have one like that as well.  I refer to her as the family horse.

    The term ditch horse just doesn't sit right with me.  It seems too negative, too prejudicial.  Horses offer us so many different ways in which we can enjoy them.  I doubt that any one way of being with a horse is better than another.   I have a lot of respect for a champion show horse but I also have a lot of respect for a horse that can take a rider safely down the trail.  Both horses are doing their job and doing it well. 

    For the record, I am sticking to words like "trail" and "pleasure" and "family" to describe my horses.  That's the respectful thing to do. 

 

Copyright @HorseOwnerToday.com, for reprint permission contact info@horseownertoday.com 

Horse Man of India - Anish Gajjar

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   November 26, 2011 18:09

The Equestrian Club of Gujarat, Ahmedabad, India

Introducing Anish Gajjar, Horse Man of India

By Gina McKnight

Photography Courtesy of Nrupal Mehta

 

 

          There is a place in India where the love of horses surpasses all understanding.  It is a place where equestrians and equines thrive in harmony, integrity and friendship. It is a community that promotes rider ethics and horse welfare; a place where riders convene to embrace and learn the wonders of quality horsemanship. It is the Equestrian Club of Gujarat, Ahmedabad, India.

          Anish Gajjar, Co-Founder of the Equestrian Club of Gujarat, Freelance Equestrian Trainer and Riding Instructor, is a seventeen year veteran on the equestrian scene. He is a charismatic entrepreneur, creating a firm foundation for one of India’s premier riding academies.  Gajjar is candid about riding and his passion for horses.  Through the years, he has enabled many to fulfill their dreams of horsemanship, while providing an outlet for his own ambitious ventures.

          The riding club is nestled on the outskirts of the Ahmedabad suburb.  The stables are clean and comfortable; the horses are grand and sleek, with a whinny now and then.  The smell of horses and leather permeate the facility.  As with any quality riding club, the horses are kept with utmost care. Each horse is stalled separately, without hobbles as is customary in some Indian stables.  The brick and mortar stalls are settled neatly in rows with adequate space for grooming, tack, and the frequent affection provided by riders and visitors. 

Gajjar arrives at the stables every day by six am for his morning ride.  Students appear shortly thereafter for riding lessons and coaching sessions.  Upon entering the riding academy, each student is evaluated as to their level of expertise.  The chosen horse is determined by the size and weight of the student; a quiet, gentle horse is given to an inexperienced adult or child, while educated riders can begin with a more spirited horse. Students range from children to adults, novice to intermediate levels.

Under the expert guidance of Gajjar, students learn proper equitation as well as respect and care for horses.  Students learn that horses can recognize anxieties and desires through physical messages and focal movements; that physical and focal cues act as communication tools to achieve the desired response from their mount.  The large riding arena is surrounded by mango groves and beautiful landscape.  The arena adjoins the stable providing adequate room to hone basic riding techniques as well as jumping and dressage skills for horse shows and competitions.

Gajjar not only provides clients with riding lessons, but also the opportunity for guidance with equine training, procurement, breeding, and nutritional/health management.  Working with local veterinarians and horse experts, Gajjar has formed a deep friendship and camaraderie amongst horse owners.

It is hard work, but as Gajjar indicates, “Hard work has no short cut and success is not achieved overnight.  One should not get disheartened at short term obstacles, but should focus on long term gains.”  His vision has become a reality; he is world renowned for his riding expertise, advocacy for the ethical treatment of horses, and, most of all, his mesmerizing, beautiful horses.

          If you have the opportunity to travel to Ahmedabad, stop in and visit with Gajjar.  He will readily welcome your intrigue and take you a tour of his facility, and maybe a quiet ride through the nearby mango grove and dry riverbeds.                .

          With a pleasant smile and confident stance, Gajjar states, “Tell me it can’t be done, and I will do it; tell me the goal is too high, and I will reach it; place an obstacle in front of me and I will soar over it; challenge me, dare me, or even defy me, but do not underestimate me - for on the back of my horse anything is possible.”

 

 

 

Follow Anish Gajjar and his beautiful horses on facebook!

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604156224

 

Anish Gajjar - Horse Man Blog:

http://www.apnuahmedabad.com/2011/07/horse-man.html?spref=fb

 

Nrupal Mehta - Photographer

https://www.facebook.com/nrupalmehta?ref=ts

 

Reprinted with the kind permission of

Gina McKnight is an author and freelance writer from USA

http://gmcknight.com

http://ginamc.blogspot.com/