Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, The Gallop Report

Reflections on WEG

October 11, 2010

Covering Quarter Horses and beyond at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

AQHA and the American Quarter Horse got an amazing amount of exposure at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Here, our sign on the main road to the stadium (in the background). Note the famous "floating Land Rover" in the pond.

Today, I’ll admit it: I’m tired.

Since September 23, when I flew into Lexington, Kentucky, I’ve been running on adrenaline and caffeine. No matter the amount of walking — and there was a lot — no matter the long days and sometimes-short nights, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, held for the first time in the United States.  Zero complaints here.

As part of AQHA’s sponsorship of the Games, the Association loaned a staff member (me) to the WEG press office, so as such, after reining was over, I was put to work covering dressage, show jumping and vaulting. Especially with vaulting, I had a big learning curve, but the good news is that horse people, no matter their discipline, l.o.v.e. to talk horses and horse sport, so I had no trouble finding knowledgeable people willing to fill me in. Plus, the vaulters’ enthusiasm was contagious, and you can now count me among the sport’s fans.

Throughout the 16 days of the Games, there were so many amazing moments. I’ll list a few:

I was wowed to see some of the dressage and jumping horses in the flesh. These warmbloods are much bigger than you realize when you see photos of them, and their incredible talent is wrapped in some very tightly wound muscles. I actually had to follow Dutch team dressage gold medalist Hans Peter Minderhoud on his way back to the stables (there were journalists waiting to interview him who were afraid he was “escaping”), and he was very gracious as he answered some questions while holding the gorgeous-but-antsy mare, Exquis Nadine. I’m impressed by the level of horsemanship it takes to channel that energy and electricity … and I’m also very appreciative of my Quarter Horses! Read the rest of this entry »

Holly Clanahan

Holly Clanahan
Editor, America's Horse magazine

Stolen Horses

September 10, 2010

We all think it’ll never happen to us — but we may have another think coming.

Nate Priefert and LSS Drygen Cody

A couple of years ago, I met Debi Metcalfe of Stolen Horse International at an equine expo. At the time, I was impressed by her passion — fueled by the theft of one of her own horses, Idaho — and her commitment to helping educate and empower other horse owners. Her group’s website has a ton of information on how to protect yourself from horse thieves and what to do if thieves strike. Stolen Horse International also sends out e-mail ”Idaho Alerts” on stolen horses and a “Net Posse” e-mail newsletter. It’s a lot of work for the bare-bones all-volunteer staff.

So, I wasn’t terribly surprised to learn yesterday that Debi was working instead of relaxing on her vacation. She’d had another report of a stolen horse — this one from a high-profile family in the horse industry — and she was trying to spread the word, hoping that the notoriety would A. Help bring this horse home; and B. Provide a little publicity for both her group and the issue of horse theft in general. We’re happy to help with both those goals.

Read the rest of this entry »

Time Crunch

August 27, 2010

How do you make the most out of your time at the barn?

I hear there are people out there who take long, leisurely walks, linger over good books in their neighborhood coffee shop and even complain of occasional boredom. I am not those people.

For me, life is a rapid-fire succession of things that have to be crossed off an ever-growing to-do list. With family, work, cattle and horses all making demands on my time, you can bet that I don’t get many extended periods of time to lollygag around.

But that’s OK. While I don’t exactly get a lot of leisure time, I find a million small moments during the day — mini vacations if you will — that remind me to be appreciative of the blessings around me. It’s not exactly stopping to smell the roses … it’s more like horse sweat and alfalfa hay.

I’ve also learned to milk the most good out of my allotted hours. Like so many busy people, my lunch hour is often spent running errands or catching up on work that’s piling up. But on those rare lucky days when work is caught up and errands are either done or can wait, you’ll often find me at the barn.

It’s a move I’ve copped from a friend of mine who is fortunate enough to board her horse not far from her workplace. And it does have its own set of skills. After all, we’ve all been told not to put time constraints on our training — it takes as long as it takes, and that might or might not be within the limits of a 45-minute block of time. So it’s important to bite off only small chunks. This isn’t where I’d introduce something new or tackle something a horse is having problems with. Read the rest of this entry »

A Quarter Horse Wins the Triple Crown?

August 17, 2010

It only happens in the movies … but it sure makes for a good story.

We doubt this is Copper Locks (he only appeared in selected racing scenes), but he's supposed to look just like this! Photo credit: John Bramley/Disney Enterprises Inc.

The movie “Secretariat” won’t open until early October, so don’t pop the popcorn quite yet. But from all reports, it’s a movie that horse lovers won’t want to miss.

Now, you might be wondering why, exactly, a blog published by the American Quarter Horse Association is crowing about a Thoroughbred movie. Secretariat, of course, is the 1973 Triple Crown winner who was owned by Penny Chenery, a woman who took over her father’s stable and had to fight for respect in the male-dominated industry of the 1970s.

AQHA member Rusty Hendrickson can help explain. He served as head wrangler on the movie, which means that he provided horses and then managed them on-set.

“A good horse movie can sort of transcend the breeds,” Rusty says in a recent interview with America’s Horse. “I love Quarter Horses; that’s my favorite. But it’s sometimes fun to tell a story when it’s just a horse story.”

And Reason No. 2? There are a number of American Quarter Horses in the movie, including one of the horses who played Secretariat. Rusty was looking for a horse with enough speed to zip around a pack of racehorses – and he knew for that quick burst of speed, he’d better look for a Quarter Horse. Read the rest of this entry »

Back to School

August 10, 2010

Cowboys vs. the Sooners, Part 2

"Sooner" sports an orange -- orange! -- OSU Cowboys cap, entertaining the veterinary students who helped in her treatment.

On the way home, she looked much more appropriate riding in her Sooner trailer! (Yes, it's pulled by a Ford truck. And no, I don't get a commission from those AQHA Corporate Partners ... I just appreciate their good-quality stuff!)

... The only problem was, the Sooner trailer (with Sooner on board) was parked in front of this gas station: an OSU/Cowboy mecca! You just can't escape it!

If you’ve been following The Gallop Report, you know about the irony involved when I had to take my mare “Sooner” to Oklahoma State University for treatment of a rare fungal infection in her lymph system. The good folks at the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital got a laugh about treating the namesake of their arch in-state rival — the University of Oklahoma Sooners.

Well, she had a recent followup visit. And the laughs keep coming!

Happy riding! (And happy rooting for your favorite college team … football season’s just around the corner!)

Holly Clanahan

Holly Clanahan
Editor, America's Horse magazine

This Month in America’s Horse

August 3, 2010

This is definitely a glass-half-full sort of issue!

In the August issue of America’s Horse magazine, mounted shooter Denny Chapman remarks that he’s a lucky cowboy. He loves his job as a Wild West entertainer. He has a great hobby competing in the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Assocation. And he got some fantastic publicity as a contestant on The History Channel’s “Top Shot” reality show.

Unfortunately, he was eliminated from the competition on Sunday’s night episode, after making it through eight of the 10 weeks. But never fear; he’s also a glass-half-full sort of cowboy. On Denny’s Facebook page, he wrote: “Just a note to thank everyone for their support during my participation in ‘Top Shot!’ I have been a mounted shooter for more than a decade, and I am very grateful for the sport that plays such an important role in my life. It helped me get on the show, and I hope the publicity I gained will help the sport grow even further. Thanks again for all the encouragement!”

Even though his time on the show is over, you’ll still enjoy reading about his behind-the-scenes experiences. And the August America’s Horse also gets more in-depth with another mounted shooter: AQHA Professional Horsewoman Stacy Westfall, who is a phenom in the reining pen but is now broadening her horizons to take in mounted shooting. Read the rest of this entry »

A Close Family

July 27, 2010

The Ohio Quarter Horse Association pulls together to help one of its own.

Trey and his roping/speed-event horse, Bar Dee Boy 036, aka "Scooby." Photo courtesy of Tow Pal Inc., which sponsors Trey.

By all accounts, 14-year-old Trey Schwab has a wonderful, supportive family. But outside of his biological family, he also has an amazing network of unrelated kinfolk – connected by a common love of horses – who have rallied around him in the wake of a terrible accident. At the AQHA Region Four Championship in Columbus, July 15-18, this family was kicking it in high gear.

May 22, Trey and his family had been driving to a horse show on Ohio’s Interstate 71 when their left front tire blew out. As Paul, Trey’s father, slowed down to pull over, the truck shot abruptly across the median and into some trees. The trailer disconnected from the truck, and one horse ended up dying. Cindy, Paul’s mother, bled profusely from a severed carotid artery, and Paul sustained head injuries. Cindy also suffered several broken bones and is now in a wheelchair, although a full recovery is expected. Trey remains hospitalized, and the extent of his brain injury is not yet known. He blinks to answer “yes” or “no” questions, and he knows that his best horse, “Scooby,” survived.

At the accident scene,  “there were angels everywhere,” says Ohio Quarter Horse Association youth director Kelli Diaz – from a passerby who stopped and helped stanch Cindy’s bleeding, to another one who happened to be driving by with an empty horse trailer; she transported the horses to a nearby vet clinic.

Today, it’s Kelli and others at OQHA and neighboring affiliates who are filling that role. Read the rest of this entry »

“Last American Cowboy”

July 13, 2010

American public, meet the ranchers!

Bill Galt. Photo courtesy of Animal Planet/Audrey Hall

It’s pretty cool when legitimate ranchers and their western lifestyle are spotlighted on the Animal Planet channel, giving the American public an insight into what it takes to put that hamburger or steak on the table. And it’s even better when two AQHA life members are involved, so they can give us a look behind the scenes.

Here, Lisa Tanzer, a co-executive producer, and Bill Galt, one of the featured ranchers, talk about what it was like to make “Last American Cowboy,” which airs Monday nights (8 p.m. Eastern) on Animal Planet.

Lisa, who has ridden since she was 5 and has shown reining horses for the past several years, says she loved being able to visit the three Montana ranches, and she even got to do some camera work from horseback. She also spent time in the edit bay in Los Angeles, going through the 5,000 hours of film that were recorded from calving season in March through October, when the calves were sold.

“I thought it was an amazing glimpse into ranching,” she says. “I’ve had so many people say, ‘I can’t believe that even happens.’ ”

Read the rest of this entry »

Sooner Goes to College

June 29, 2010

How does a college rivalry relate to a fungal infection? Read on:

Note the knots running under her left front leg. They're more visible since her coat was shaved off for vets to pull fluid out of the nodules for testing.

Every time I feed my horses, I give them all a quick check to make sure no red fluids are leaking out, all four legs are functioning properly, etc. Last weekend, as “Sooner” got one of these routine once-overs, I noticed some knots on her chest. As she wolfed down her Nutrena SafeChoice pellets, I palpated what felt like an enormous string of pearls – hard lumps of about an inch in diameter connected by a thick, hard cord. She continued eating; they weren’t painful. The knots started in the middle of her chest and ran downward, into what would be considered her armpit. My guess was that they were swollen lymph nodes, and a phone call to our veterinarian confirmed that likelihood.

Sporotrichosis – a rare fungal infection of the lymph system – was what he suspected. A phone call to the veterinary teaching hospital at Oklahoma State University, his alma mater, strengthened that suspicion, and he recommended that we go there, since this is a difficult bug to fight, and the OSU vets are trying some novel techniques.

So, driving the three hours toward Stillwater, Oklahoma, I called ahead to give the receptionist all our information. The questions she asked weren’t hard …

Read the rest of this entry »

“Top Shot”

June 15, 2010

This Quarter Horse-riding cowboy is among the contestants on a History Channel reality show.

Denny Chapman. Photo by Jim Cook.

If you’re one of the 5 million viewers watching “Top Shot” on the History Channel on Sunday nights, then there’s no doubt you’ve noticed the cowboy.

“Top Shot” is the History Channel’s first-ever reality competition series, and it features 16 of the nation’s most skilled marksmen competing to win a $100,000 prize package and the title of “Top Shot.” Among them is Denny Chapman, a Wild West entertainer and top competitor in the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association, an AQHA alliance partner.

Denny laughs when asked about his trademark attire.

“It’s me, and it’s everyday. I’m wearing it right now,” he said last week when filming had concluded and the 10-week series had just begun airing. “I’m wearing the same hat I wear on the show. The Wranglers, a trophy buckle and my boots … those things kind of made me recognizable and identifiable.”

Indeed, after just one episode had aired, Denny, who lives in Ocala, Florida, was busy fielding interview requests and making publicity appearances.

“It has been such a whirlwind. It has been nuts, but in a good way of course. I had no idea that I was going to get the exposure I’ve gotten, and only one episode has aired. And I really didn’t get a lot of face time in it. I’m almost speechless. It has got to get even bigger and better as the series goes on and more people see me.”

And according to Denny, it’s all thanks to his American Quarter Horses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Horse-oscopes

June 7, 2010

How zodiac signs explain (sort of) our herd dynamics.

Yack, yack yack ... don't interrupt me today! I've got things to say!

There are tons of guides to horse personalities. Linda Tellington-Jones has her interpretations of facial swirls. Pat Parelli talks about “horse-analities,” based on the equine’s innate characteristics, learned behavior and spirit. Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling (“What Horses Reveal”) has 26 character groups, such as “the pilgrim,” “pegasus” and “the friend.” I’m sure the list of horse personality decoders could go on and on, as well as the debates about how much water any of these methods hold.

These things came to mind over the weekend, during a discussion of zodiac signs and the zodiac elements (fire, water, earth and air). Humans have long been trying to decode our own personalities, as well as those of the animals around us. So just for fun … I decided to see how my horses stacked up against their zodiac signs.

Junior, born April 19, is an Aries — a fire sign known for volatility and passion. Temperamental? Oh yeah … although he is mellowing as he ages. But with this sign covering March 21 – April 20, I’ve got a feeling there will be a lot of equine Aries. I’ve actually got two others — Zen and Ocho, both born on April 6 of different years, and they’re as mellow as the day is long.

Their horoscope for the day (from www.astrology.com): Be the first to speak up today, otherwise the conversation will be dominated by those who don’t know what they’re talking about.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Days She Danced

May 12, 2010

The curtain closes on a life lived well – with dancing, racing American Quarter Horses and, above all, vim and vigor.

I was lugging a big camera bag, all right? And it was very heavy.

That was how I rationalized it in my mind, at least, when I found myself struggling to keep up with the 101-year-old Doris Eaton Travis when I visited her in 2005 to do a story for America’s Horse. She was an absolute gem – warm, gracious and extremely energetic. She was waiting for me on the front porch as I drove in to her Norman, Oklahoma, ranch. And from there – as though she couldn’t wait to talk about the horses that had been her passion for the past 30 years or so – she sped inside toward the study, where shelves of trophies and winners circle photos awaited. It was, ahem, a little hard to match her pace.

We laughed about it at the time, and she told me her secret: always staying busy, both mentally and physically.

Sadly, I read today in The New York Times, that time had finally caught up with her. On Tuesday, at 106, she died of an aneurysm. The venerable Times thought her death noteworthy because she was the last remaining Ziegfield Girl, an icon of the Jazz Age.

“Beneath towering, glittering, feathered headdresses, the Ziegfeld Girls floated across grand Broadway stages in lavish pageants known as the Ziegfeld Follies, often to the wistful tune that Irving Berlin wrote just for them: ‘A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody,’ ” the Times wrote.

“It was beauty, elegance, loveliness,” Mrs. Travis told the newspaper in 2005, “beauty and elegance like a French painting of a woman’s body.”

Read the rest of this entry »