Major Road Trip in April

autumn road (Small)It is official:

I will be at the World Cup Finals and maybe the Arabian Breeders Cup in Las Vegas.
And yes, I will also be covering Rolex Kentucky and the Kentucky Reining Cup.

That amounts to no less than four disciplines – dressage, jumping, eventing, reining – through the final three weeks of April. And, since we’ll be in Kentucky, maybe some breeding farms for Thoroughbreds, Saddlebreds or whatever.

Distances? A minimum of 5,400 miles or 8,700 km for the journey. I envision at least two oil changes for the car.

Cathy, the other owner of Hero’s Tribute, will be joining me to help with the workload and the driving. That will be a welcomed relief, but I wonder what sort of trouble we can get into.

If any of you are going to attend these competitions, maybe we can get together at some point. It is always great to meet in person and talk horse.

Since we will be driving to the venues, there will also be some flexibility regarding farm visits for those folks who live along the routes.

Tentative routes:
I-15 South from Alberta to Las Vegas
I-40 East from Arizona to Amarillo
(I-70 through St. Louis if the weather is bad along I-40)
Various possibilities from Amarillo to Lexington
Various possibilities from Lexington to Alberta

What do you think?

It has been an idea I’ve had for a while now and something I hope to start later this year. What is this idea: a site for online equine courses.

Yes, I will post some courses that equate with my clinics and seminars on functional conformation, but I was thinking that there are many more possibilities.

There could be short courses and/or long courses, basic knowledge courses and/or specialized courses, and courses on a variety of topics. There could be courses for novices, courses for breeders, courses for riders, courses on various disciplines or sports, and courses based on interviews with top people in the industry, etc.

Are there any other topics – aside from conformation and pedigree – that appeal to anyone? I was thinking of contacting other contributors so that the website (domain already purchased) could be more of a full-service experience. I do not need to be the only author on the site. Some courses could possibly be written by other authors.

What areas within the industry do you think should be addressed? Would short courses on issues of basic horsemanship be of use? How to know when to call the vet? How to assess the job your farrier did?


Please let me know what would be of interest to you. I will appreciate all suggestions.
Thank you in advance!

Breeding Season Evaluations and Recommendations

It starts to get busy in January and February when plans for breeding edge into our thoughts. And when breeding season is actually upon us, it gets even busier…at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

If you know you are going to breed your mare next year, or if you want to know what type of mares would best suit your stallion, why wait until the busy season to request evaluations and/or recommendations?

The same applies to figuring out what direction to send a youngster (discipline or keep/sell). Why wait?

In truth, if you order an evaluation and/or recommendation early, you will likely receive the report quicker than you would if you wait until everyone else places their orders.

Here are some of the online services I offer:

Breeding recommendations for a mare based on conformation
– You provide photos of the mare (and video, if available) and up to 3 stallion choices.
– You share your goals for the resulting foal.
– You get an evaluation of the mare and an explanation of the pluses and minuses of each stallion as they relate to your mare.
– You may also get a recommendation for a different stallion, where appropriate.
– You will be invoiced through PayPal ($300) and will usually receive the report within a week of payment.

Breeding recommendations for a stallion based on conformation
– You provide photos of the stallion (and video, if available).
– You share your goals for his breeding career or your breeding program.
– You get an evaluation of the stallion and recommendations regarding qualities to look for in mares for him.
– You may also get examples of suitable mares, where appropriate.
– You will be invoiced through PayPal ($300) and will usually receive the report within a week of payment.

Evaluation of a horse (mare, gelding, stallion) based on conformation
– You provide photos of the horse (and video, if available).
– You share your goals for the horse regarding performance.
– You get an evaluation of the horse and recommendations regarding discipline or distance and level of competition.
– You may also get helpful exercises or areas to guard, where appropriate.
– You will be invoiced through PayPal ($150) and will usually receive the report within a week of payment.

Evaluation of a young horse (filly or colt) based on conformation
– You provide photos (and video, if available) of the youngster (3 months and up).
– You share your goals for the youngster.
– You get an evaluation of the youngster and recommendations regarding discipline or distance and level of competition.
– You may also get helpful exercises or areas to guard, where appropriate.
– You will be invoiced through PayPal ($150) and will usually receive the report within a week of payment.

* Note: Turnaround times quoted above are for off-season work.

For tips on taking photos for analysis, see

Sample Report: Well To Do


The first round of article deadlines has been met, so I can take the time to update this blog…and to do a bit of bragging.

While doing all the pedigree-based research and writing the articles based on the World Equestrian Games in France, I kept the ancestry of our stallion, Hero’s Tribute, in mind.

Pedigree of Hero’s Tribute

I am pleased to announce that his pedigree keeps getting stronger! He is related to some of the top horses from the Games.

He’s  related to the individual silver and individual bronze eventers, Fischer Rocana FST and Chilli Morning, plus a host of other eventers that managed to complete all three phases in France. He’s also related to Clifton Promise, who was second at the Burghley Horse Trials just after WEG. And, through Mytens xx (used in Swedish Warmblood breeding) he’s related to Arlando (11th in dressage at WEG).

And while I was on the subject, I also found this gelding:

Sea Lord (a.k.a. Big Bird) is by Sea Salute, a very close relative to Sea Hero, Hero’s Tribute’s sire.

Sea Hero, who won the Kentucky Derby and was later sold to Turkey, also sired Sea Accounts, who competed in dressage and eventing.

Hero’s Tribute’s dam, Eastern Dawn, is the granddam of the RPSI-approved horse, Baatesh (scroll down to see the photos).

His dam is by Damascus, sire of Napur (US Team jumper) and ancestor to Hador (international jumper), Forest Glow (sire of jumpers and eventers in Australia), Hartly Hare (international eventer), etc.

Plus, his second dam is a full sister to Caucasus, ancestor to the eventers, Jake, Clifton Promise, Top Of The Line and Dunstan Inishturk.

I believe that it’s only a matter of time before Hero’s Tribute has offspring at the FEI level.

And I was absolutely thrilled for Cathy Chalack (my partner in the stallion and the lady holding the ribbons) when her 2014 foal by Hero’s Tribute was Champion Open Foal and Reserve Show Champion at a Canadian Warmblood show on September 20th.

IMG_0528 (Small)Meet Inkan Tribute (age 3 ½ months)

At that same show, another breeder raved about her Hero’s Tribute filly out of an Indoctro mare. Nice!

And, to top it all off, while I was in France, Hero’s Tribute was approved by the Canadian Sport Horse Association. Now he’s approved in two Studbooks (CSHA and RPSI) and registered with the Jockey Club.

Gotta love it!

Cliché and not so Cliché

While I don’t usually do the touristy things when I travel, today I took the tour. In truth, four tours (loops) through various parts of the city. It was worth the 30+ Euros, since I hadn’t spent any time in Paris since 1983. (That was after delivering a Thoroughbred stallion to Bangkok, Thailand.)

The bonus was that I was able to add to my collection of horse-statue photos. Someday, in my spare time, I will put them together and compare them – war horses, generals’ mounts, artistic renditions, likenesses of famous horses, and so on.

Two different chocolatiers captured my attention along the routes, and I was forced to stop, make a purchase and hop on the next bus. I haven’t touched the samplings from the second store, but, I am not ashamed to say that I am glad I did not have to share the hand-made bar of chocolate mousse with a praline crust and a dark chocolate coating from the first store. Simply marvelous! Price and calories be damned.

And since dinner consisted of salad, I don’t feel guilty about the rich dessert. I know; I’m in Paris and I had salad for dinner. Can you believe that? I think I was carb-ed out from the Games.

Finally, how’s this for cliché? Because I am working on an in-depth conformation analysis of Valegro for my regular column in Warmbloods Today, I am literally a writer working in Paris.  I’m no Hemingway, but…

Now back to work for me.

Off to Paris…

Or maybe just off?

How is it that the contents of my luggage expanded in the 2.5 weeks I’ve been in Caen?

I brought some leave-behind clothing and footwear, and that pile takes up more space than the 2 T-shirts, cap and pens that I added to my collection.

It must be that the humidity has made the clothing expand.

No room for purchases in Paris, which is probably a good thing.

Anyway, time to pack up the computer and head to the train station. I do hope they have the right number of coaches for the first class tickets they have sold.

What a Difference a Day Makes

The city of Caen is shedding its WEG skin rapidly.

By Monday noon, pretty much all the Alltech fabric on the fences was gone. The crowd-control barriers were gone. Most of the horses were gone. And only a few media people were left.

I noticed all these things – and it was hard not to – on one final trip to that bakery I mentioned previously for one of their fabulous quiche.

Upon my return to the hotel, I asked what they were going to do with one particular poster now that the Games are over. Throw it in the trash was the answer, so I volunteered to rescue it.

IMG_0362 (Small) Copyright


Now if I can just figure out how to get it home in good enough condition for framing.

I’m packing up, because I head to Paris on the train tomorrow.


Jaded?? Perhaps

Upon reflection after the recent World Equestrian Games…

I am still passionate about horses, and when it comes to a compromise of any sort, I am always on the horse’s side.

Of all the disciplines contested at these Games, vaulting is likely the only one that could happen without a real, live equine partner. A mechanical horse could actually work.

It is kind of fun to picture humans competing at most of the other disciplines without their horses.

Which show jumping rider would go clear in the time allowed? Would it become a sport for tall people or would height categories evolve? One might become the World Champion in the under 5’6” category or the over 6’ category, etc.

Which dressage rider would do the best piaffe or pirouette? Is it possible that they could mistakenly appear to be having fun while doing their tempe changes?

Which reiner would do the best sliding stop? Would they develop specialized cowboy boots for that? I bet no one would need to be checked for spur marks after their round.

Can you imagine people running 100 miles (160 km) with 5 or 6 pit stops that included the public use of rectal thermometers?

Who would find eventing such an adrenaline rush on cross-country day if it were human legs at risk? Maybe dressage would become the most popular phase among competitors.

And how would driving work? Would they draw straws to decide the four to be harnessed and the one to be given the reins? Or would people play nice and take turns pulling each other around in a carriage?

Wouldn’t the veterinary inspections be boring? No pretending to be too high-spirited to trot.

Au Revoir, Norman

Well, the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are coming to a close. The closing ceremonies are literally taking place as I write this post.

IMG_0358 (Small) Copyright

Norman, the Games mascot

In driving, the individual medals were pretty much as expected: Boyd Excell (gold), Chester Weber (silver) and Theo Timmerman (bronze). I had hoped to stay for the press conference after that event and the medal ceremonies, but the time was too tight if I hoped to catch the final four in jumping.

On my walk ‘home’ I witnessed a lot of people cutting sections out of the fabric-covered, chan-link fence to take as souvenirs. I suppose that`s another way for Alltech to become a household word.

IMG_0358a Copyright

The most popular sections of fence

By the time I was back at the hotel, there were only a few minutes before the jumping competition started.

Dubbledam (NED) did a great job riding each horse to a clear round and deserves the win. I felt sorry for Delaveau (FRA), who settled for silver, in front of his home crowd, due to a single time fault.

Cortes C was the best horse – clear throughout. But, it was interesting for me to see that he was the only horse wearing extra leg protection in the warmup sessions. This makes me think that his connections are aware that his forelegs may be at risk. I hope he gets some time off now, but I doubt it. Nations’ Cups loom.

It was also interesting to watch the other riders, especially Dubbledam, who did not allow the dark gelding to use the underside of his neck to take the weight off his forehand as Madden does. He’s a very clever horse; he compensated very well.

If he`s still sound at the World Cup Finals in April, I`ll try to get the conformation shots to show his susceptibility as well as those that show how he compensates. At least there I will not have to battle to get educational photos.

(FYI, my lip has pretty much healed now. Hint: do not eat salad dressing with vinegar when you have an abrasion on the inside of your lip.)

And now for my rant about the final-four format.

While it may be a good way to determine the ‘best’ rider, it makes absolutely no sense to me that they change saddles. Why can’t the riders adapt to the saddle that suits the horse if they are truly the best riders? Certainly, stirrups are adjustable at this level. Aren’t they?

Why don’t they change reins on the bridles for the riders’ grip preferences, if the rider is the most important part of the equation? I understand the reasons for not changing bits.

And I thought I noticed at least one exchange of spurs between riders, which was, I assume, to suit a particular horse.

Earlier this week, I spoke to an Olympic medalist (individual gold) about it, and he/she did not agree with it, saying that it is too awkward for the horse. That medalist did not want to be quoted by name, and I am respecting that.

Admittedly, the differences in horse builds were not as dramatic this year as they were in 2006 – Cumano versus Shutterfly, Piolotta and Authentic – but, still…

Maybe changing saddles has something to do with the sponsorship deals? Perhaps the riders signed contracts saying they would not ride in any other brand of saddle save the one that sponsors them? Good thing no one takes photos or video of these riders when they try out horses they may be interested in training or purchasing. I know for a fact that the riders do not always insist on their own saddles in those instances.

So, tell me; how does the industry support so many saddle fitters if saddle fit for the horse does not matter at the World Championships? Do you think that the message is that saddle fit is only important in other disciplines? Or do you think that the message is that the riders are the stars and that horses are secondary?

In an era when welfare of the horse is supposedly foremost, can’t they dispense with the changing of saddles if they insist on keeping the final-four format?