Cheers to the Se­nior Horse

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

Re­cently, my cousin sent her horse, Helga, to stay with me for awhile. Helga is a 19-year-old Cana­dian Horse who has done a lit­tle of everything and loves to be in work. My cousin, a busy re­al­tor in Ver­mont, has a lot on her plate and knew that she wouldn’t have time to keep Helga go­ing, es­pe­cially through the win­ter. So in an ef­fort to keep the mare sound and happy, she asked if my daugh­ter and I would like to keep her in work—a job we read­ily agreed to. Hav­ing pre­vi­ously owned an older horse, I know how im­por­tant it is to their well­ness to keep them mov­ing.

This month we fo­cus on the se­nior dres­sage horse in a few of our sto­ries. First, we share the story of the Olympic horse named Granat in “An Un­likely Cham­pion” on p. 32. Swiss Olympian Chris­tine Stück­el­berger and her for­mer trainer, the late Ge­org Wahl, who had been chief rider at the Span­ish Rid­ing School (SRS) in Vienna, Aus­tria, found Granat as a 4-year-old. The Hol­steiner geld­ing had a heavy build, a com­plex mind and proved to be a chal­lenge to train. But with time and pa­tience, he and Stück­el­berger went on to win at the Olympics and World Cham­pi­onships be­fore his re­tire­ment from com­pe­ti­tion at al­most 18 years of age. Af­ter that, he con­tin­ued as a school­mas­ter be­fore he was eu­th­a­nized at the age of 24.

Another horse fea­tured this month is Don­ner­luck (“Don­ner”), a Rheinlander geld­ing who, af­ter be­ing a suc­cess­ful FEI horse, fell into a res­cue sit­u­a­tion. For­tu­nately, a young girl saw his po­ten­tial and brought him home. Af­ter some dif­fi­cult train­ing hur­dles, the Young Rider went on to earn her USDF gold medal on the horse. To­day, Don­ner is re­tired from com­pe­ti­tion but at 24 still en­joys per­form­ing two-tempi changes and go­ing for a good gal­lop. Read “My Diamond in the Rough” on p. 52.

Smart equine man­age­ment is key to keep­ing older horses like Granat and Don­ner happy and healthy. In “9 Tips to Keep Your Se­nior Dres­sage Horse Com­pet­i­tive,” we hear from three experts on how they man­age the older horse’s train­ing and health care. Cor­rect ba­sic train­ing, a var­ied rou­tine and proper joint and hoof main­te­nance are just a part of the process. You can read the full story on p. 40.

Our cover story comes from U.S. Olympian Kath­leen Raine, shown rid­ing her 17-year-old Hanove­rian mare, Bre­anna. Raine dis­cusses the im­por­tance of suppleness and of­fers sev­eral ex­er­cises to help achieve it. She says, “Cor­rect ba­sic train­ing in­cludes suppleness right from the be­gin­ning be­cause the horse needs to learn how to use his body, no mat­ter what level he is do­ing.” Read more start­ing on p. 26.

Fi­nally, last month we in­cor­rectly iden­ti­fied a rider on p. 38 of the Carl Hester ar­ti­cle. The cor­rect in­for­ma­tion is Brit­tany Mur­phy rid­ing the 4-year-old geld­ing Flirt.

Un­til next time,

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