Back from Virginia

The Connemara seminar and hands-on session with ponies in Virginia went well. I’m told that the feedback has all been glowingly positive, which is a good thing :-)

I must express my appreciation to the ACPS as they have been very supportive of my work over the years. Thanks!

As to the future, I’m currently trying to see if there is any horse work on my way south for the winter, and will keep the readers of this blog posted as things develop.

For folks in the interior of BC or the lower mainland, Pacific Northwest and/or within reach of the I-5 or I-15 corridors, I should be heading west from Alberta and then south at the end of October (Canada) or beginning of November (USA).

I will be available for organized functional conformation clinics (general, breed-specific or discipline-specific) as well as private consultations along either route. Let me know if you would like a slot in the schedule.

Hope to see you along the way!

Clinic in Virginia

ACPS Inspection Educational



July 31ST

, 2017 (Monday), Lexington, VA

The ACPS Foundation is sponsoring a


educational clinic for aspiring Inspectors,

as well as any interested Connemara Pony owners and breeders on Monday, July 31st


Registration is required, even though it is


. Come one, come all, to Lexington,

Virginia, for this great opportunity and


educational clinic!

Please contact: Susan McConnell (

Tentative clinic schedule for Monday, July 31st




9:00– 12:00

– Judy Wardrope didactic and hands on presentation

Lunch Break –

food provided – free


– 2:00

I’m Torn

Recent events and situations have me wondering if I am just too darned honest.

– Should I not express my disagreement when someone says, “But he had a good career before that,” despite this particular performance horse breaking down at an age when he should have been at his peak? (By the way, I predicted the exact type of breakdown this horse suffered a little over a year before it happened.)

– Should I say more of what people want to hear instead of what I really think when evaluating a horse?

– Should I say, “Your horse has some limitations,” and let it go at that instead of saying, “He is built to suffer (or break down) in this specific area due to his construction and the goal you have for him?”

– Should I be more concerned with human feelings and less concerned with what the horse will have to go through if I don’t emphasize my points?

– Should I find a way to not really say much of anything? Maybe I could develop it as a new skill. Although not horse related, someone recently showed me – by example – that it is possible to go for long periods of time and through numerous lengthy conversations without ever saying what you are really thinking. Is that honest, dishonest, neither or both? I found it deceptive and manipulative at best, but maybe I was wrong to feel that way.

– Should I alter my standards and principles?

Time for an Update

Yes, I am back in Canada and up to my armpits (so to speak) trying to empty out the house, finish up the renovations and put the house on the market.

I’ve been hauling bags of clothing and boxes of books to donation locations as well as hauling magazines and papers off to recycling. One day I calculated that I handled about 500 pounds of such things, which, because I had to load the containers, haul them to the truck and then unload them, meant I actually handled 1500 pounds. No wonder my doctor commented on the size of my biceps! And as I haul things out of the basement office, the legs are also starting to tone up.

If anyone wants a workout without paying gym fees, let me know as I wouldn’t mind some assistance!!!

My Day at Thermal

St. Patrick’s Day seemed like an appropriate day to say goodbye to an extremely successful Irish stallion, one I first took photos of before he was at the grand prix level, and say hello to the young Irish mare that may take his place in the grand prix ring. Yes, Rich Fellers is retiring Flexible, a 21-year-old phenom who beat the odds in so many ways. Thanks to Rich, Shelley and the grooms for letting me take pictures of the 8-year-old Irish mare and the 9-year-old Swedish mare Rich is bringing along. Fellers, who has mostly competed on male horses said, “I guess I’m a mare guy now.”

Like Fellers, Richard Spooner is also in a transition phase when it comes to horses. If what I saw of Quirado RC, a 8-year-old and thus just a baby at the grand prix level, is any indication, Spooner has the ride on a very nice grey horse. Speaking of grey horses, Spooner informs me that Robinson is still going strong at age 29, having outlived one goat, the infamous Nanny, and has a new stablemate, the diminutive Nanette. Thanks Richard, and thanks to your groom.

Ashley Bond also had me look at her string of horses and graciously allowed me to take photos. Since we last spoke, she has gotten married and had a baby. She said, “It’s great!” She also said with a laugh that her husband, a professional soccer player, “is better looking” than Beckham. Thanks Ashley, Steve and the groom.

In consideration of the heat, misters and fans are placed along the outward-facing stalls as well as near the end-gates of the competition rings. Great for cooling horses as well as journalist, but not good for cameras!

Although I started to fade by mid-afternoon in the 96-degree heat of the California desert and did not manage to get as many hunter photos as I would have liked, I must say that I was totally impressed with the pride that the grooms have in their charges and their efforts in making the horses look their best for the photos I did take. Good job, guys and gals, and thank you very much!


For those ‘professionals’ who wander about the show grounds thinking that other people do not hear you making snide or nasty comments about others at the show, I want to remind you that even though you may not recognize the people within earshot, they may recognize you. They may even form an opinion about you and your level of professionalism based on how and how often you talk about others. And when they get asked to recommend a trainer, your name may not be mentioned in a favorable light…if at all.





If all goes well, I will be in Thermal covering the $1 million AIG Grand Prix on March 19th, 2017. Hopefully, I will also get a bit of time to cover the Hunter rings as well.

After that, I will check the long-range weather reports and start plotting my journey back to Canada. If I can line up some work along the way, I am seriously considering heading north through Oregon, Washington and the lower mainland of BC before returning to Alberta.

Contact me via email if you wish to meet up at the show or along the road home.

“Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.” W.C. Fields

Good to Know

I was recently contacted by a Grade 8 student. This is not the first time that such a thing has happened, but, prior student contact has largely been from university and/or college students.

She wrote: “I am writing to you because I love your articles on conformation, and have used multiple of them as sources for my horse conformation project in my eighth grade science class.”

She also asked why conformation – functional conformation, I assume – was so important at the upper levels of competition.

My response was: “As to high-performance, it is kind of like automobiles. An average car might get you from A to B, but, if you want to enter competitions, you might need more than an average car, and, by the time you want to enter a NASCAR race, you will need a car that is mechanically designed to operate efficiently and safely at that higher level. It’s just physics.”

Although the exchange was brief, I am extremely pleased that some young people are thinking of the horse in mechanical terms.That is good for horses and it is good to know!

I hope she gets an A+ for her science project.

Arizona Update

Yes, I am still in Arizona and parked out in the desert. Amazingly, there has been a lot of humidity in the desert so far this winter. Who knew?? At least the precipitation here does not require shoveling.

Although I have made a start on the next e-book (Elements for Athleticism and Soundness), I have spent more time renovating and painting in the trailer. I now have nightmares about green painter’s tape and peel-and-stick tile! I wish there had been time to paint and do the backsplash before I started inhabiting the place. That would have made things a bit easier, for sure.

There are some clinics in the planning stage – Canada and USA – and I will post detailed info as times, dates and locations are confirmed.

Meanwhile, I shall carry on renovating, writing and feeding the hummingbirds.


Yes, I am settled on BLM land near Quartzite, Arizona. This picturesque piece of desert will be my base of operation for the foreseeable future, but I plan on venturing off to the Phoenix, Tuscon , Wickenburg and Yuma areas. If you live in one of those areas, let me know.

I am pleased to announce that the portable garden I planted on November 11th has sprouted. Home-grown salad in December! Gotta love it.

The view from my trailer, including my ‘welcome’ mat.

img_1441-small img_1443-small img_1444-small img_1445-small img_1446-small


Yippee! I made it to California.

Everything was rushed before departure, but I have arrived in sunny (and warm) California.  The first day of driving was a long one (20 hours), but the new bed in the trailer provided me with a fabulous 8-hour sleep. I arrived intact in Monrovia (in the greater LA area) Thursday evening despite a few ‘bumps’ along the way.

Overall, I made pretty good time until I crossed into CA, where the towing speed is only 55 mph.

I actually made it in time to catch the Breeders; Cup races on Friday and Saturday and catch up with a couple of friends/race fans from Virginia as well as fellow journalists. And I was fortunate enough to be able to take conformation photos of some champion horses on Sunday and Monday mornings in the stables.

After a day of securing a US cell phone as well as a mobile hotspot through a different carrier and a  day of rest, I am now tackling the real organization of the trailer and setting up the office space to suit my purposes.

As long as I do not overstay my welcome here, I will be based out of Monrovia for the next week or so. Therefore, anyone in the general area wanting me to assess horses, etc., should contact me fairly soon.

Arizona, is likely next on my agenda, with Nevada as another possibility. Hope to meet up with a few clients along the way.

Until next time…