In­side DT

Dressage Today - - Content - Jen­nifer Mel­lace, Editor jmel­lace@aim­me­dia.com

If you’ve ever lost a horse to colic, a se­vere ac­ci­dent or sim­ply old age, you know how heart­break­ing it can be. Last week marked the five-year an­niver­sary of say­ing good­bye to my heart horse, Ben. We spent 17 years to­gether be­fore some of his health is­sues be­came too great of a risk—se­vere arthri­tis in his knee and chronic choke, which we be­lieve may have been due in part to the melanomas we couldn’t see (he was gray). So when he was just 21, I made the very hard de­ci­sion to say good­bye. Could he have sur­vived an­other year? Per­haps. But I wanted to say good­bye on good terms. Not when he was suffering. And while I have never re­gret­ted my de­ci­sion, his loss was one of the hard­est things I’ve ever had to cope with as a horse owner. Yet through his death I learned that I was strong enough to han­dle the love and loss we all even­tu­ally must face.

In this is­sue, our monthly colum­nist Dr. Jenny Susser ad­dresses how to cope with loss and shares how she’s han­dled say­ing good­bye to her sweet part­ner. It’s a won­der­ful trib­ute to her lit­tle horse and a great les­son in how to find strength through the griev­ing process. Read “Mind Over Mat­ter” on p. 16.

A dif­fer­ent les­son in strength comes from this month’s cover girl, Adult Am­a­teur Alice Tarjan. A former three­day even­ter, Alice turned her fo­cus to dres­sage af­ter grad­u­at­ing col­lege. But at the age of 27, she was di­ag­nosed with cancer and un­der­went chemo­ther­apy for five months. It’s dur­ing this time that she set a goal for her­self—to live long enough to ride at Dres­sage at Devon. Alice went on to com­pete at Devon mul­ti­ple times, which re­sulted in a win of a Ma­te­ri­ale Cham­pi­onship with a score of 83.8 per­cent and rid­ing in the highly an­tic­i­pated Satur­day night Grand Prix Freestyle. She also caught the at­ten­tion of U.S. dres­sage team tech­ni­cal ad­vi­sor Robert Dover, who in­vited her to train in Florida. You can read her story start­ing on p. 44.

Our train­ing fea­ture this month comes from Dres­sage To­day Tech­ni­cal Editor Beth Baumert. In her book When Two Spines Align: Dres­sage Dy­nam­ics, she ad­dresses how, by na­ture, the horse’s forelegs are more ea­ger than his hind legs. This is ap­par­ent when you watch a horse gal­lop­ing at lib­erty in a field or play­ing with his pas­ture mates. But when we ride, we do half halts and ask for tran­si­tions that en­cour­age the hind legs to be more re­spon­sive and the fore­hand to wait. Beth does a re­mark­able job of ex­plain­ing this and shar­ing how rid­ers can help solve the horse’s in­nate bal­ance prob­lems in her story “In Search of Bal­ance” on p. 34.

There’s much more this month, in­clud­ing how to find your horse’s ideal walk, a Q&A with Ger­man Olympian In­grid Klimke and prep­ping your farm for winter. We hope you en­joy the is­sue.

Un­til next time,

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