Maryland's World Travelers

 

(The Equiery • October 2011)

 

Equiery readers continue to travel the globe visiting far-off places and meeting some very interesting people and horses. If you did not get a chance to travel outside of the U.S. this year, never fear! Travel with our Equiery readers and see the world from their perpectives.

If you have a trip abroad planned for the next year, don’t forget to take some photos and write down your adventures for a future issue of The Equiery. Email your stories and photos to editor@equiery.com.

600 Wells and Counting
by Katherine O. Rizzo

When you ask harness horse owner and former driver Ken Wood of Easton (Ken Wood Stables and Lifetime Well Drilling) “why donate millions of dollars worth of equipment and personal time to drilling wells in Africa and India?” Ken simply replies, “when you see a need and have the resources to help, why not?” And that is truly his reason for drilling over 600 wells in Ghana alone, plus three in India, and for now expanding the well-drilling project to Tanzania.

The well-drilling project first got started in 2006, when members of the Aldersgate United Methodist Church in York, PA approached Ken about purchasing one of his company’s older well-drilling rigs. Ken sold the rig to the group for a small fee and then traveled with the rig to Ghana to help train locals on how to drill the wells. When he got there, the drinking water conditions and the huge numbers of people either sick or dying from drinking contaminated water appalled him. He ended up donating the rig to the group, but his involvement with the program did not stop there.

Back in the U.S., Ken started working with various charity groups to raise money to send more equipment to Ghana to drill more wells. Although several groups through Catholic charities organizations helped with donations and cutting through the red tape to get the equipment into the country, nearly 95% of the funds needed for the project came directly from Ken. Even though the effort to get even one piece of equipment into the country is extraordinary and often expensive, Ken says, “We get it done. The end result is helping the people in the villages and that makes it worth it.”

By July of 2009, Ken had made 14 trips to Ghana and had drilled over 375 wells, bringing drinking water to millions. Ken has since created his own nonprofit organization, Wells for Ghana, and in 2010, shipped a rock-drilling rig to Ghana. Ken explained that most of the area they are drilling in is a mixture of sand and clay formations. “Much like what you see on the Eastern Shore in Maryland,” he said. In order to expand the project into the northern areas of Ghana, a rock-drilling rig was needed. “We can drill faster in sand than in rock,” Ken added, stating that on average, they can get two to three sand wells drilled in one day, versus one well a day in rock.

As the project has gained momentum through the years, people in other countries have contacted Ken asking for help. Last year, three wells were drilled in India, where Ken commented that the cost, about $4k a well, was nothing in comparison to the thousands of people now with easily available clean drinking water.

This year, Ken has expanded into Tanzania where he said only 18% of the people have access to clean drinking water. Ken left for Tanzania on September 28 with the hope of starting drilling by October 2. This is Ken’s 22nd trip to Africa, a trip he makes at least four times a year while still maintaining his harness racing stable and family drilling company here in Maryland.

An Olympic Preview
Equiery photographer Beth Collier (Lusby) spent most of the summer in the U.K. taking photos at many equestrian events. While there, she was able to attend the Test Event for the 2012 London Olympic Games and give us her report on the equestrian facility at the historic Greenwich Park.


As with past summer Olympic venues, London hosted the horse trials as a test event for equestrian sports a year ahead of the Olympic Games. The CIC** Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational took place July 4-6 at Greenwich Park, which is six miles southeast of central London. Since the Test Event was scheduled from Monday to Wednesday, it fit perfectly into the summer eventing schedule. Many of the same riders traveled from the Test Event to Barbury Castle Horse Trials the next weekend.

The London games are divided into three main areas for the various Olympic sports:
Central Zone, Olympic Park and the River Zone, which includes Greenwich Park. All three equestrian sports (eventing, show jumping and dressage) will be held at Greenwich Park. There are also venues scattered around Great Britain for sailing, rowing, soccer, and cycling.

This Test Event also included a Paralympic class on Tuesday, July 5 and a separate Grand Prix Show Jumping class on Wednesday, July 6, in which U.S. rider Laura Kraut competed. After the Test Event, the Union Internationale de Pentathlon held its World Cup at the same facility.

The CIC** Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational horse trial included 41 entries and was run on a smaller scale than the actual Olympics. This was a two-star event, where the Olympics are closer to a four-star. Grandstand seating is only on one side of the arena, which is on a raised platform. Though many tickets were given out to various local officials and residents, the number of spectators was very low.

All the cross-country jumps are portable, and supposedly make no impact on local water, sewer, trash or electricity. I thought the arena looked amazing—exactly like the artist’s conception I saw on the London 2012 website. Of course, there will always be endless debates about arena footing, but even the one rider who fell in the show jumping class thought it was a soft enough landing.

All the volunteers I spoke with said they were also coming for the 2012 Summer Olympics and their enthusiasm was obvious. The President of the Ground Jury was Anne Mette (Denmark). The other two judges were Gillian Rolton (Australia) and Nick Burton (Great Britain). At the event I saw U.S. Eventing coach Captain Mark Phillips, as well as USEF Executive Director of Sports Programs Jim Wolf and U.S. show jumping guru George Morris.

The weather was bright and sunny and even a bit hot for dressage. British rider Piggy French riding DHI Topper W scored a 34.7 in dressage to lead the competition. She added no additional penalty points in cross-country or show jumping, so won the competition on her dressage score.

The show jumping phase consisted of two rounds, which is the format for the Olympics. After the completion of the first round of show jumping, the top 25 riders qualified for the second round. For the Olympics, this second round will decide the individual medal winners. River of Joy and Michael Jung of Germany finished second with Pippa Funnell of Great Britain riding Billy Shannon to finish third. The Duchess of Cornwall, who is also the Patron of the British Equestrian Federation, presented the awards after show jumping.

Three riders represented the U.S., though none of them finished in the top 10. Will Faudree of North Carolina rode Jennifer Mosing’s DHI Colour Candy. Logan Rawlings rode Jaybee Star Celebrity and Julian Stiller rode Gunstone Wallstreet. Both Rawlings and Stiller are currently based in the U.K.

Two Times the Fun in Europe
Marilyn Little-Meredith of Raylyn Farm in Frederick spent the summer in Europe competing in both Grand Prix show jumping and in eventing. While there, she competed in several “Big Tour” shows and two-star events.

The jumpers left the U.S. around the last week of May and initially I was based in Elmpt, Germany for two weeks before moving to Brussels, Belgium. The horses did a small warm-up show in Roggel, Netherlands the week following their arrival. After that, their first show was Merrlo (Netherlands) where I finished second with Cita Z in the Grand Prix. Waldman Z finished sixth in the Z-Classic.

The first International show was at the CSI**** Geesteren (Netherlands) where the horses jumped beautifully despite downpours and the coldest weather I have ever experienced in June! Waldman Z finished fourth in the CSI**** National Landschap Prijs after a brilliant round. After this show he is now my anchor horse.

After the horses returned from Geesteren the next week they went east to Spangenberg (Germany). The weather was a disaster . . . the horses were up to their knees in mud just walking from the stable area to the ring. There was nothing the organizers could do other than keep dumping shavings on every surface on the grounds, to no avail.

My horses jumped beautifully. Waldman had two brilliant rounds in the Big Tour, which qualified him for the third day’s Grand Prix. However, he was tried that morning and was purchased by an American, so I didn’t compete him that afternoon in the Final. In the Middle Tour, I showed Weezer for Stephex Stables (Belgium) and jumped with a clear round and a four-fault round, which also qualified me in the top 40 of the initial 100 for the Final, on a horse of my choosing. I chose to ride Cita Z in that Final. Cita jumped one of only seven double clear rounds to finish third in the class. She was the youngest horse in the class as well!

After Spangenberg, I went to the CIC** Holzerode (Germany) to ride Udonna in the event. Oh Lordie...we had a problem at Holzerode. Udonna was the last to go into the dressage ring at 7 p.m. and had just warmed up beautifully. Unfortunately, the horse before me was having a meltdown in the ring–rearing, running all over the place. He was excused and literally bolted from the ring towards Udonna. I couldn’t get her out of the way in time and he broadsided her and knocked her down. She was shocked and totally distraught. As I was the last to go, they wouldn’t allow me any time to collect her and made me go right into the ring! We had a disaster of a test. With the show jumping phase only an hour away, I was forced to withdraw her so a vet could check her. Freak accident, yes, but Udonna feels sabotaged! In actuality, we are very lucky that she wasn’t seriously hurt and that I didn’t break her fall and act as a human cushion for that 1500-lb. redhead.

CSI Zuidwolde was fantastic. Cita jumped three clear rounds in the big Tour–not a rail down all weekend! The weather was really rough and I’m pretty sure that now the skies just open as soon as we arrive at the show grounds.

For eventing, the week before Zuidwolde, I went to the CIC Salgen (aka “The Alpine Cup”) just outside of Munich, Germany. Bavaria is an experience but Bavarian eventing takes things to a whole new level. Let’s just say that these horses will think they died and went to heaven when they see a mowed gallop lane back in the U.S! Both Udonna and Rovano Rex (the new horse) placed in the two-star. Rovona Rex was second. Considering I had only ridden him for two days prior to heading to the event, I couldn’t have been more thrilled with his performance. The eventers will head to the CCI at Blair Castle in Scotland next.

The CSI Bonheiden in Belgium was next for the jumpers. It is actually not so far away from where we are based, so the eventers are able to stay home and still school, gallop, and turn out. It looks like Five Points Horse Trials in North Carolina will be the first event back in the U.S. if everything goes according to plan.

The World Champs–What a Journey!
Marne Martin-Tucker (Woodbine) spends her time traveling between her home in Woodbine and her job in England. This summer, she and her mare Royal Coeur represented the U.S. at the 2011 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses.

Every person dreams of fairy tales with one’s horse and for me, such a fairy tale is riding my “show green” six-year-old at the World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany (August 3-7). My mare, Royal Coeur, is a very brave and courageous horse, but she is still at this stage: a bit different each day and at each show. If I had been able to duplicate the test I showed Stephen Clarke in May at Somerford Park to qualify for the Championships with an 8.4 (or at Hickstead later with an 8.8), I would have been happy. However, with the tension and inexperience of my mare in that environment, plus being an unknown rider to the judges, the best we could do in Verden was a 7.2.

In most worlds, a 72% is a good score, but not when one was hoping for more and has a horse that can do more. However, there is no doubt that Royal Coeur is a really good horse with a talent for upper-level work. Due to her size (she is almost 17.2 hands), she still needs time to gain more strength and more balance and one could see that in the test. It will come though–she is only six, after all.

In hindsight, we would perhaps have been better served to have done a big, busy show in Germany before Verden, as the arena in Verden is very tight and bowl-shaped, completely surrounded by tents and people, and the horses can’t see out. My mare never refused or spooked in the test, so I am thrilled at her obedience, but we did have much more tension than we had in the qualifiers, and that impacted our score. I am of course disappointed that we had our best work in the warm-up arenas and training sessions, but the quality of all three of Royal Coeur’s gaits, her ability to collect and her super half-passes showed through.

The positives of competing at the World Championships are that I learned a huge amount about how to prepare my horse better for an event like this. It also gave me a measure of where we are in our training. It is very obvious that the top riders in the world and their mounts reach that level not only through talent and hard work, but also the opportunity to show at larger venues such as this, and both my mare and I are the better for it. I think it is hard for many Americans to realize the difference in the showcraft that the Europeans at these top shows demonstrate. Only through years of being out there striving to perform at the same level in head-to-head competition will we get there. My firm belief is that we need to give more Americans the opportunity to compete in Europe in order to advance our international goals.

There are so many good people that you meet at and on your way to the World Championships who are willing to give support and to help. I could not have gotten to this point without the excellent training I have received with my mare in Europe, my husband’s wonderful encouragement throughout this experience, our friends in England who drove us and came to help at the show, and also the very helpful support and advice from Scott Hassler (Hassler Dressage, Chesapeake City) at the event. One always has the disappointment of not getting a better score with such a good horse, but for my first trip to the World Championships, I think our team left a positive impression that we can build on for the future. I really am privileged to have had this opportunity and thank the U.S. Federation for nominating us.

For now, I am happy to have brought a sound horse back from the Championships, and we will begin working on the next stages to move up the levels. This was a huge milestone for me, but hopefully the real celebration will be to one day do our first Grand Prix together. In the meantime, I will enjoy the journey and treasure Royal Coeur, and her other barnmates Escobar and Quarterflash. The joy for me is still going to the barn each day, seeing the happy horse faces and having the pleasure of advancing my partnership with such good horses. That for me will always be what dressage is really about.

Eventers to Canada and Back
by Katherine O. Rizzo
First published on The Equiery’s Eventing Blog (June 13, 2011)

The Bromont three-day event took place June 8-12 in Canada with seven Maryland event riders making the trip across the border to compete in the CCI* and CCI**. All seven riders officially completed the event.

In the CCI*, it was Germantown’s Lauren Sumner who was the highest placing Marylander to finish. She rode Golden Memories to 30th place after dressage. Although she had some time faults cross-country, she and “Ella” moved up to 21st after cross-country. In the end, the pair finished in 16th place after dropping one rail in show jumping. Lauren was also recognized as the sixth-ranked Young Rider in the division.

Woodbine’s Kristie Gray was in seventh place after dressage, riding Wynella Wolverine. The pair put in a great test to score a 53.2. Unfortunately, a stop on cross-country dropped the pair down to 27th place. They remained in 27th after having eight jump and four time faults in show jumping.

Katie Ruppel of Adamstown topped the Maryland list of entries for the CCI**. She rode her own Houdini to 16th place after the completion of dressage. Some time faults cross-country dropped the pair to 21st place going into show jumping. With two rails in show jumping, Katie and Houdini moved up to 19th place. After Bromont, Katie relocated her Yellow Rose Eventing business to Florida.

Kerry Blackmer, also of Adamstown, finished Bromont just one spot below Katie in 20th. Kerry rode Case Closed to the 32nd spot after dressage and moved up to 22nd after putting in one of the few double clean cross-country rides of the competition. With two rails down in show jumping, the pair still managed to move up to 20th.

In 21st place was Julia Wendell of Upperco riding Cavendish. The pair was in 30th place after dressage, moved up to 25th after having some time faults on cross-country and then moved up to 21st after dropping just one rail in show jumping.

Kate Chadderton of Woodbine rode Collection Pass to 27th place after starting the competition in 35th place. The pair moved up to 28th after cross-country with only a few time faults. Two rails were dropped in show jumping.

Molly Curtiss of Brookeville rode Savannah to 35th overall. The pair placed 39th after dressage and moved up to 31st after jumping clean but outside the time on cross-country. Molly and Savannah had some difficulties in show jumping on the final day, racking up 32 jump and 24 time faults to drop down to 35th.

Olympic Dreams
by Katherine O. Rizzo

Most Maryland horse people know Suzanne Stettinius of Parkton as the young steeplechase jockey who came up the ranks from pony races to timber races and now seems to be training a slew of future steeplechase jockey stars. But did you know that Suzanne is also 31st in the world as a lady Modern Pentathlon athlete and is one of the top two women in the U.S. in the sport?

The sport of Pentathlon dates back to ancient Rome and was included in the very first Olympic games. Now, the Modern Pentathlon includes fencing, running, swimming, riding and shooting…all in one day! Suzanne’s first Pentathlon competition was the Canadian nationals in 2005. There, she placed first in the Junior division and fourth overall.

Before that first competition, Suzanne was just a kid who foxhunted on the weekends with her family, raced ponies and also competed in soccer, lacrosse and swimming. In 1995, she and her siblings joined Pony Club, where Suzanne was introduced to the Tetrathlon, which includes riding, swimming, running and shooting, but no fencing. After competing at the 1998 USPC National Championships in the Tetrathlon when she was only 10 years old, Suzanne added fencing to her list of “hobbies.”

She began training with Bin Lu of the Baltimore Fencing Center, where she still trains. Under his tutelage, she went to two Junior National Championships and two Junior Olympics in fencing.
After enrolling at McDaniel College in 2008, Suzanne took a break from Pentathlon to focus on swimming for the college. She felt swimming was her weakness at the time and through the coaching of Jeff Hiestand, made huge improvements in that phase.

Then in 2010, Suzanne became active in the sport again, setting her sights on the 2012 London Olympic Games. In order to qualify for those games, she must compete in one domestic U.S. Nationals, one continental Pan American Games, and six international competitions. In 2010, Suzanne won the silver medal at the U.S. Nationals, placed 11th at the Pan American Championships and second at the Domestic Qualifier held in Colorado Springs. And thus, she started checking off those qualification requirements.

This year, Suzanne placed third at the Domestic Qualifier in Palm Springs, California before heading to Mexico to compete in the NORCECA Championships, where she won gold. Back in the U.S., Suzanne earned a silver again at the U.S. Nationals. In September, Suzanne was on the U.S. Womens’ Senior Team at the World Championships in Moscow, Russia. The team placed 13th overall and in the semi-finals, Suzanne was ranked 22.

A Report on Haiti and the challenges their animals face.
By Chris Broughton-Bossong
Haiti Program Coordinator
Humane Society International

Humane Society International has been working side by side with groups like Best Friends Animal Society and Days End Farm Horse Rescue to help provide training opportunities for veterinarians in Haiti, offering field surgical castration clinics, disaster response planning workshops and equine and pack animal welfare clinics.

Our Haitian field team recently spent several days with members of the Days End Farm Horse Rescue emergency response team, Brooke Vrany and David Beard, learning equine handling techniques and methods for reading equine body language. Days End also demonstrated ways to treat some of the common injuries seen on pack animals without needing to take the animals “out of commission,” as this is not an option for most owners, who rely on the daily use of their animals to carry their goods to market. This was good preparation for what came next: a multi-day equine welfare clinic held at several different outdoor markets along Haiti’s southern peninsula.

Hungry, thirsty, sore
Though the outdoor markets in Haiti are generally held on the same days at regular sites, the people who come to sell their goods travel far from their homes to visit several in a number of different locations. Both the owners and their animals work exhaustive hours in very harsh conditions in order to sell goods that range from produce to packaged goods and tools. Often, the roadsides and fields where the markets are held have been well trampled and have little to offer in the way of vegetation, grazing areas or access to drinking water. As a result, it is very common for our team to see underweight and dehydrated equines.

Support our efforts to help animals affected by disasters like the earthquake in Haiti

In addition to the generally compromised level of health that comes with poor nutrition, saddle sores are a side effect frequently seen in pack animals. As donkeys or horses begins to lose weight, their bodies move from metabolizing their available fat stores to using up muscle mass. This is most immediately apparent along the back. It is all too common to see very prominent spinal and pelvic bones protruding on these animals. Ideally, their backs should have enough muscle and fat to create a fairly flat surface from shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. As their bones become more prominent and the skin more dehydrated and fragile, they are at greater risk of having their heavily-loadedsaddles wear through their skin, leaving large, painfully infected wounds.

Training vets and educating caretakers

Our team worked closely with the local veterinarians to care for these animals and provide some training and education to the owners on steps they could take to provide a better quality of life for their equines. One challenge is the fact that even if a saddle sore is properly cleaned, it will quickly become aggravated when the saddle is placed back on the animal. For this reason, we hired a local seamstress to come to the clinics with us so that we could create custom cut-out areas in the saddle pads to allow the wounds to breathe and properly heal. This was the first opportunity that many of the owners we met had been given to provide their animals with veterinary care. It is generally not out of malice or apathy that the animals wind up in such unfortunate states of neglect, but due to a lack of knowledge or resources necessary for adequate care or treatments.

During each five- or six-hour day at the markets, our team was able to provide care to 40 to 50 donkeys, mules and horses. They treated wounds, adjusted saddle pads, distributed new pads to those without them, educated people about dietary considerations, and treated animals for skin and intestinal parasites. A key component of the guidance that the veterinarians and our field agents provide is explaining to people what level of care is required by the animals and then working with the owners to assess how they can meet those needs given the resources they have access to. To mandate a level of care that is beyond caretakers’ abilities only discourages them and diminishes our credibility with them.

It is our intention to work hand in hand with owners to provide them with what they need in the way of resources and knowledge to improve the care that their animals receive and after our recent clinic outside of the town of Les Cayes, we are feeling very optimistic that with continued support we can meet this goal. Support our disaster response work.


Chris Broughton-Bossong is Haiti Program Coordinator for HSI.
"Reprinted by permission of The Humane Society of the United States." August 31, 2011
Day’s End Horse Rescue and HSI is planning to provide a 5 day workshop for Haitian Vets in 2012. Much support is needed for assistance in Haiti.
Please contact Day’s End Farm Horse Rescue at brooke@defhr.org for more details and to make donations.

Maryland Horses Find Careers in China

In April of this year, the first horses from Maryland were exported to China. Two of these horses were foaled here in Maryland and one was purchased in Maryland. In total, 29 horses were exported from Sharon Clark’s Rigbie Farm in Darlington, which has been a quarantine station for the past 22 years. The facility is an approved Maryland Department of Agriculture Contagious Equine Metritis quarantine facility. Sharon acted as the agent in the sale of the horses to the Heilan Equestrian Group of Xin Qiao in the Jiang Su Province near Shanghai.

The horses, mainly Quarter Horses, American Paint Horses and Shetland Ponies, are being used at the Heilan facility for a Western-style riding exhibition. The exhibition is similar to those of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and includes demonstrations in dressage, quadrilles, four-in-hand driving and more.

The two Maryland-bred horses, TMF Barlinks Model and TMF Sharpe Barlink, were Quarter Horses from Ed and Dixie Hughes’ Tall Maples Farm in Hampstead. The Sheltand Pony Dunkin Donut came from Jenn Fox’s farm in Fair Hill.

China has expressed interest in trying to revive its Thoroughbred racing industry, which hopefully means more opportunity for Maryland horses to find new homes in China.

An Ancient Land "Down Under"
by KC Shore

©Equiery2011