Christina Ecklund and her daughter with Gypsy (gray mare) and Taft (brown gelding) at a holiday parade. While Gypsy had no known racing record, Taft was a free-legged pacer who raced 93 times, then became an Amish buggy horse, and was then picked up by a horse rescue. She reports that he has “a fantastic canter,” often also seen with American Saddlebred­s; it is elastic, hugely long-striding, and yet slow, balanced and cadenced.

After adoption, both Gypsy and Taft took time to recover condition and positive attitude. “Taft joined us over a year ago and his personalit­y is shining. He and I go on various adventures, and we have learned together,” she says, beginning with Equine Cones, Hazards and Obstacles (ECHO) competitio­n, which offers riding, driving, and long-line divisions. After that, “he did several holiday rides and visited a nursing home during COVID to deliver the local high school’s holiday cards.” Christina says, “both horses are incredible souls. They knew they were in bad situations and now they are blossoming.” See the “Jumping (Stadium)” section for more on Gypsy’s accomplish­ments.

Here is Emily Hay’s Real Hanover at a homecoming parade. Those readers who have not ridden in parades might not realize that, in terms of accident potential, parades rate right up there. Among those of us who have done parades, it is well known that manure + asphalt = the world’s slickest footing. Add to that the blaring marching bands, the decorated wagon pulled by miniature mules, parade walkers in Batman costumes complete with fluttering capes, and top it off with unsupervis­ed children who think it’s amusing to throw popcorn at the horses or pop balloons under their bellies, and you begin to get the idea. But these are also the type of things that Standardbr­eds encounter at tracks, especially if race day coincides with the county fair, and Emily reports that Real Hanover has yet to put a foot wrong.

This is a picture of just about the maximum that can be asked of a horse in terms of calmness and willingnes­s. The fire is made with magnesium and is relatively cold and well-controlled, but it still flames and smokes just like any other fire. In this photo Amy Broadie is aboard her mare Fox Valley Adena, who also has a number of other learned skills (these are commonly called “tricks,” which is about as silly, inaccurate and deprecator­y as saying a child who has learned to play the piano is performing a “trick”). Amy reports that the mare’s primary sports are competitiv­e distance driving, competitiv­e trail riding and endurance. “She excels at riding and driving 25 or more miles at a time,” says Amy, and “she also does dressage, trail riding, pleasure driving and babysits green horses and riders learning to trail ride.” (Photo by ACE Photograph­y)

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