Maryland’s Globe Trotters


The Equiery • October 2012

Riding to Perched Villages of Provence, France
by Crystal Brumme Kimball, publisher; photos by Amber Brumme Brengel


The Luberon Regional Park is the heart and soul of Provence, France: approximately 375 square miles (almost 150,000 acres) of rugged mountains and open valleys containing a mix of forests, cultivated fields of lavender or poppies, cliffs of ochre or blinding white limestone, and orderly orchards, pierced by ancient villages and all laced together by ancient Roman stone roads, dry stacked stone walls and stone aqueducts. There are only two ways to really experience the magnificence of the Luberon: on foot or on horse. We highly recommend using a horse!

Established in 1987, Cap Rando is a primary provider of horseback rides in Provence. In France, individual trail guides are required to be licensed by the government, and in order to be licensed must be certified through a licensed riding school, and Cap Rando also has its own guide school.

Cap Rando provides primarily Spanish or Barb crosses, many of which were bred specifically for their riding program. The horses are well-trained, reliable packers – exactly what you want for a trip like this. The ranch can accommodate all levels of riders. The weeklong 90+ mile ride consists mostly of walking, with some trotting and a bit of cantering. Beginner riders should understand that this particular ride means a minimum of six hours in the saddle every day – more if the guide gets lost! And as some days also involve hiking up or down very steep mountains for almost an hour, there is a moderate degree of fitness required.

Our group consisted of seven Americans and four French women. The French women all belonged to riding clubs (akin to our lesson stables) in Paris and in the U.S. would be considered beginner to intermediate riders. They were given the best schoolies! The American riders consisted of one Florida dressage rider (who turns out to have ties to Maryland), one Florida show hunter rider, three Kentucky foxhunters, one Maryland foxhunter, one Maryland riding school instructor from Maryland. All the Americans were very capable riders and thus were given the less experienced horses, which were still fabulous packers.

Christophe Bertrand, our guide, is a solid horseman and a very capable and safe guide. Alas, his relaxed approach regarding our itinerary made our group arrive later than expected each evening, which did not seem to set well with our hosts (the literature provided by the tour company notes that “Provencals are the most generous and warmest hosts and there is an all pervading ‘Frenchness,’ which means that people are polite and punctual;” we certainly experienced a different attitude as a result of our less-than punctual arrivals). Our accommodations included small hotels in towns, countryside guesthouses or hotels, and one breeding farm B&B that had seen better days (and was probably back in the 1970s the height of Provincial countryside hippy-chic). The group’s favorite was, hands-down, the Regain le Colombier, which is exactly what one would imagine a Provincial farmhouse/guesthouse to be like! The hospitality, food and accommodations were fabulous.

Although travelers can book directly with Cap Rando, we highly recommended booking through a U.S. travel agency (preferably one that specializes in riding trips) as you will have more clout if there are any problems. If you do have any complaints, we recommend working through your provider to rectify the problems. If you booked your trip directly with the ranch, you may not get the same level of attention. The U.S. agencies associated with this trip included Active Riding Trips and High Pointe International Equestrian Vacations, each of which provided excellent, personalized services to the riders on this particular trip.

And if you have ever wanted to experience all that is Provence, spend a week riding through the Luberon Regional Park!

This is NOT the ride for you if…
Just the thought of being in the saddle for six or more hours gives you saddle sores;
You are not comfortable hiking straight down a rocky mountain trail for an hour;
You absolutely can neither pee in the woods nor wait eight hours until you arrive at a restroom;
“Rustic” and “roughing it” are NOT synonyms in your book;
Feeding, watering, and haying feels too much like doing chores at home and not enough like being on vacation;
Your idea of a vacation is to hand the reins off to a groom, enjoy a cocktail, a hot shower and then dinner;
You are shy and prefer not to talk to strangers;
Your idea of sightseeing includes touring inside the castles and historic churches, browsing in shops or hanging out in cafes;
You are looking for a culinary tour of Provence;
You are particular about your horse’s size and way of going;
Walking trail rides bore you to tears, no matter how spectacular the scenery and the vistas;
An average traveling distance of 15 miles a day is too long;
An average traveling distance of 15 miles a day is not far enough!

You will love this ride if…

You are a horseless horse person in serious need of intimate bonding with an equine friend for a week;
The idea of feeding, watering and haying your horse four times a day every day is charming;
You love trail riding;
You appreciate a good packer and are not picky about what kind of horse you ride;
You’ve always wanted to wander through cherry orchards on horseback, picking and eating fruit as you ride;
“Rustic” and “roughing it” ARE synonyms in your book;
You are shy around strangers but do want to meet new people (your riding mates will not be strangers by the end of the ride);
You are looking for a great bonding experience with family or a close friend;
You’ve always wanted an architectural and agricultural tour of Provence.

You will love this ride if riding on the stone roads laid by the Romans as they conquered Europe makes you feel connected to the arc of modern civilization in a way that no car can (and yes, all roads DO lead to Rome).
You will love this ride if the
clatter of hooves echoing off ancient stonewalls while riding through villages on cobblestone streets too narrow for cars is inexplicably romantic.
You will love this ride if you have
a powerful urge to wonder through the Provincial countryside and
its time-warped villages, but a
bus tour sends you screaming
for the hills.
The best meal of each day
was usually the mid-day tailgate, which always featured a hot dish! Horses enjoyed lunch at
the same time, and then everyone would settle down
for an hour nap.
You will love this trip if riding through an abandoned train tunnel sounds intriguing.

This ride is not for you if you are not comfortable trotting or cantering on hardtop roads.
This ride is not for you if you are severely acrophobic.

You will love this ride if the idea
of watering your horse at ancient village fountains and Roman aquifers which mysteriously
appear in the middle of the
forests sounds cool!

If playing with your horse in
the ochre hills of the French Colorado sounds like fun, you
will love this ride!

If you have always wanted
to see the fields of poppies
and lavender that inspired Cezanne and Van Gogh, this
is the ride for you!

 

 

Vet Clinics in Haiti


This past February, veterinarian Javier Donatelli, DVM, rescue specialist Chris Jonason and Days End Farm Horse Rescue trainer and volunteer Brooke Vrany headed to Port-au-Prince in Haiti to hold a five-day Equine Care Clinic. The Humane Society International and DEFHR sponsored the clinic. The purpose was to teach local Haitian veterinarians and pack animal owners how to keep their equines healthy and sound.

Classes were held on wound care, saddle fitting, nutrition, hoof care, parasitology, record keeping and dentistry. Local veterinarians were also showed how to set up and operate regional care clinics. Over 100 horses were checked for health and soundness while the U.S. team was there.

Veterianarian Javier Donatelli, DVM teaching Haitian veterinarians about dentistry, hoof care and wound care


 

Colleen Rutledge – Rerouting to Germany


In the October 2011 issue, The Equiery reported on event rider Colleen Rutledge’s successful run at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** in England. Colleen and Shiraz jumped around clean on cross-country to place 37th overall at their second four-star event, their first being a 12th place finish at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in April 2011. Back in Frederick, Colleen made plans for a return trip to England for the spring of 2012. This time, her aim was to ride in the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials CCI****, the third jewel of the Rolex Grand Slam.

Unfortunately, it rained. And rained. And rained for most of the time Colleen and Shiraz were in England preparing for Badminton. Then, the somewhat unspeakable happened; officials canceled the event due to flooding and waterlogged competition grounds. This left Colleen and Shiraz in England all geared up and with nowhere to compete. After long conversations with her trainer Jim Wofford and family, Colleen decided to stay in England and compete at the Luhmuhlen CCI**** in Germany in June.

“I almost managed to not be allowed out of England. Luke [Shiraz] had his vet check on the morning of June 11 and when I asked if all the papers were there, I was assured they were. They weren’t. Little problem of not having the export license,” Colleen wrote on her blog while in route to Germany. Luckily, the papers could be faxed to the boat docks and Shiraz was allowed to cross the English Channel.

Colleen and Shiraz rode their dressage test early on in the competition. “We had a good test, not a great one, and great is now what you have to own in order to be competitive at this level,” she said. Overall, Colleen stated that she was more than happy with Shiraz’s performance but was a little disappointed with her own lack of rider preparation.

With the dressage phase over with, her attention switched to the cross-country course, which she described as “big, as a four star should be, but not terribly technical.” Of course, it did have four water questions and several interesting combinations.

Colleen and Shiraz ate up the cross-country course, jumping clean at now their third four-star event. The next morning at the final horse inspection, Colleen said Shiraz was bouncing and easily passed the inspection before the start of show jumping.

“Show jumping was a bit of a disappointment for me. My horse didn’t pull two rails, I did. He was jumping fantastically over a great course and I wasn’t there enough to help him through two related distances,” Colleen said of the final phase of competition. Of course, she could not be that disappointed since even with two dropped rails, the pair finished in 16th place. “This whole event has been an amazing education for me. Just to see so many incredible riders in one place has increased my knowledge base. I am so fortunate that I have the support and ability to not only visit these wonderful places but to also compete with my partner in crime,” she concluded.

So what is next for this dynamic duo? They are heading back to Europe this month to compete in France at the Pau Three Day Event CCI****. Once completed, Colleen and Shiraz will have competed in four of the six CCI**** events in the world.

Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz show jumping at Luhmuhlen CCI**** in Germany
Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz going cross-country at Luhmuhlen CCI**** in Germany

 

Into the Unknown
Corinne Foxley spent two months this summer training with Uta Graef in Germany. Here is her story in her own words.


Corinne Foxley with Uta Graef in Germany

I was determined. If I really concentrated I would completely understand the German that was coming out of Uta Graef’s mouth. I mean, she was really speaking to me as though I should understand, so I should understand, shouldn’t I? I don’t think that three months of listening to the German Level 1 and 2 on CD in my car during my commutes was enough. Just nod and move in the direction of the barn…perfect. I don’t think she realized that I have absolutely no clue what she just told me to do. Okay, I am sure I heard a horse’s name, Helios. Which one is Helios? Crap.

It was only the second week into my two month experience with Uta, the head trainer at Rothenkircherhof (her barn in Kirchheimbolandon, Germany), and I was still struggling to learn all of the horse’s names, not to mention the German language. Having never taken German in school I had studied the commonly spoken phrases before I left for Germany. I quickly learned upon arrival at Rothenkircherhof that the tourist version of language learning didn’t exactly help with the barn version. What the heck did “putzen” mean anyway? Thankfully I had two useful tools. The first was Csabi, who worked at the barn and knew all of the horses forwards and backwards. The second was Franzy, who spoke English as though she had been born in the USA. Unfortunately, Franzy had to go out of town for a few weeks and wouldn’t be back until the later part of the month. My only option, then, was Csabi. All I had to do was find him.

After wandering up and down the long aisle three times I found him hidden in the lower stalls. In my best attempted German accent I asked, “Csabi, wer ist Helios?” He smiled knowingly and began walking towards the pasture. Who needs language anyway? Pointing and nodding work well enough. We reached the field and he pointed out, in a field full of bays, surprise -- a bay horse! Oh, right, that bay horse. I don’t know why I didn’t realize which one he was before. I yell a “danke shoen” over my shoulder and start the trek up the hill. It always seems to be uphill here, how is that possible?

For the first two weeks it felt as though I were living the same day over and over again at Rothenkircherhof in Kirchheimbolandon, Germany. Trying to understand as much of the language as possible, learning which horses were which, figuring out what saddle went on which horse. Similar to starting a new job, I suppose, except with the added complication of not knowing the language very well. Luckily for me, all of the people at Rothenkircherhof were more than helpful. They tried to understand my broken German and were willing to help me learn everything I needed to work there. I wanted to do well, because opportunities like this one don’t come along very often and are not easy to find. I was fortunate to have such a wonderful opportunity through my trainer, Felicitas von Neumann-Cosel, and her sister Isabelle von Neumann-Cosel. Through them and their contact with Uta I was able to secure a two month praticum. So on the 27th of June I flew to Germany and jumped head first into the unknown. Little did I know that it would be one of the best experiences of my life.

Once I began to settle into the routine I discovered a family of people that together created an easy working environment that succeeded in managing about 56 horses. You might expect that in such a competition-oriented barn, the constant stress of showing would have a negative effect on the horses. Surprisingly, because of their natural approach to the management of the horses and its reward-based system, the horses are perfectly content to perform their work, show after show.

Once I had given Helios a quick groom and, thrown on his tack as quickly as possible, I headed toward the arena. Hoping that I had made the correct assumption from the two words of German I had understood, I got on Helios and started to ride. Uta was sitting at the short end of the arena, her spikey white hair glowing in the sunlight along with her ever-present smile. A few quiet comments are all she needs to encourage her students. It’s the same when she’s on a horse. She finished her lesson with Roxy, one of the riders at Rothenkircherhof, and turned toward me. “Gut, more forward, sit deep, super jetzt!” she said. Her effort to teach in a foreign language (being English for her) was admirable. I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be. She told me to ride shoulder-in, a small circle, balance, and create a little more flexion. Helios began to feel softer and more willing to go forward as I completed the exercises. He began to feel like he was barely touching the ground – when could he have gotten wings? I heard another “super jetzt” and kept going. She told me to traversale, then extended trot down the diagonal. “Mehr, mehr, guuut!!” Holy. Crap. I had found his extended trot. I came down to a walk and silently thanked Felicitas back at First Choice Farm for giving me the gift of sitting trot. “Gut! I think that’s enough for today!” I smiled and nodded, she told me that she is happy with where my riding was going and that I still needed to get a better feel for having the horse in front of me. I told her I agreed and know now what I needed to feel. I thanked her for my lesson and let Helios cool out. As I walked around the arena on Helios, smiling to myself, I glanced up to see Csabi with a big smile on his face giving me the thumbs up. I had become part of the family.

I enjoyed every moment of my time working at Rothenkircherhof. By the end of my two month stay, I had become a part of the barn family. My German, and their English, improved every day. We laughed at our language mistakes and enjoyed being able to work together despite them. I came away from Rothenkircherhof having learned a great deal about creating better competition horses, teaching them to really love their work, and to not be afraid to go for it. But apart from the riding, I left Rothekircherhof with a new family that I hope, one day, to see again.

 

A Cultural Connection

Vicky Meyer of Breezy Run Farm with the Iraqi delegation that visited her farm this spring

I think most of us with websites receive those pesty emails from around the world that we merely disregard. Although I did not open the attachment, I responded to one supposedly from the World Trade Center Institute on behalf of the State Department and merely gave a phone number for them to call. Imagine my surprise when I returned the voicemail message finding out that it was legitimate: four Iraqi entrepreneurs wanted to visit Breezy Run Farm. The questions of “Why us?” and “How did they find us?” elicited responses that the Iraqis wanted to visit a horse farm on the Eastern Shore and found us via the Internet.

Prior to their visit we were given objectives and information on each visitor. The Department of State has an International Visitor Leadership Program, and the local sponsor was the World Trade Center Institute located in Baltimore. None had ever been to the US before. The objectives for the visit were to look at how we transform our ideas into a business, financing, and the challenges of regulation at all levels. All had expertise in a variety of business pursuits and interests in all types of agricultural settings. They were to be in the US touring for three weeks.

After a visit to the Maryland Department of Agriculture earlier in the day, the group of Iraqis accompanied by two State Department interpreters arrived at the farm on May 10th for a brief visit. All were extremely friendly and it was quite a pleasure to interact with them. I think they were particularly taken with the one barn cat who is shaved every year because of her numerous hair balls. That was something they had never seen and thought something was wrong with her.

All are well educated, holding various agricultural related degrees. Mr. Khlaif is an agriculture consultant interested in our banking systems and how we finance. He wanted to know if we received any federal grants and was surprised that we did not qualify for anything. They seemed surprised that we hold some heavy mortgages and that the farm does not generate the income to cover those- that I have to work another full-time job. Mr. Adbulsaheb is manager of an agricultural company and has published a variety of articles on agricultural production. He was particularly interested in our vineyards and plans. Mr. Hasoon is chair of a farmers union and has been extremely influential with the Iraq Agricultural Extension and a research center in implementing several programs to bring greenhouse technology and drip irrigation to the local farmers . He was very interested in the no-till drill and impressed when I told him that we bought it used and my son rebuilt it.

We discussed the vast differences in agricultural and building codes between counties in Maryland, the more stringent requirements of Queen Anne’s County and our efforts to comply with requirements to renovate our facility to meet commercial standards.. They asked about business planning and were very interested in how the economy has affected the horse business from sales to boarding. Specific questions were asked about our decision to abort our breeding program, but they understood when they realized that there is currently no profit margin. They wanted to know if we had attended university classes to learn about breeding and other medically related issues.. Of course we are like most folks who learned from other breeders and vets willing to teach us, reading, researching, and drawing upon years of experience caring for humans and transferring some of those skills to horses. They were interested in my educational background and profession unrelated to the horse business. I think it gave them an appreciation of real life in the US.

The group toured the barns and the indoor arena with the sand, felt and rubber footing something new to them. None of the visitors are involved in the horse business in Iraq, although they said that they are horses in the southern portion. Interestingly enough they use fly predators to control flies in Iraq as do we in our fields and have for years. There really is some common ground.

One of their objectives was to explore our relationship with support organizations. I discussed the Maryland Horse Council and our freedom to get involved in legislation at all levels.. The perfect example was the Queen Anne’s County Council hearing we attended a couple years ago where we spoke out against some provisions to a proposed county ordinance which would have made it all but impossible to host schooling shows at equestrian facilities. In the end, the revised regulation made the horse business agricultural and removed the encumbrances in the original proposal.
Being a family business, they were very interested in how we work together and adjust to the changing economic challenges, mainly diversification. One of the Iraqis owns two farms where he is not allowed to make decisions on the crops he can plant. The mandate comes from the state, so he was surprised that we could plant hay and establish a vineyard on our property without prior approval. They were fascinated by the acres of grape vines and went out to check how they were planted and supported. Since they had visited the Maryland Department of Agriculture and were briefed on the Nutrient Management regulations to protect the Chesapeake Bay, our new manure collection system was on the tour.

My favorite visitor was Ms Dalya Mohammed Amin, executive Director of a center focused on small business development and training with a focus on supporting small women-owned businesses. The Iraqi men jokingly called her a real women’s libber which she took all in stride. Her center has provided training and development support to over 3,000 individuals of various ethnicities throughout the province where she lives. Her center is unique in the region, operating an entrepreneur training and development program aimed at empowering women to start and grow small businesses. . Her work has a particular focus on single, divorced or widowed women who are the sole support of their families, and her programs provide the means to achieve self-sufficiency within an environment often biased against them. It is perhaps the fact that I am widowed and the sole support of my family with both children working for me that created a special bond between us. She was extremely engaging and a delight to get to know. The fact that she spoke fluent English was a plus as well.

In the end this was a whole circle experience for me as a veteran who was recalled to Desert Storm. If these people are like the rest, I now know why we were there.

The photo is of the four visitors and myself, Vicky Meyer

 

Maryland Horse Industry Board Goes to China

Maryland Horse Industry Board executive director Ross Peddicord (second from right) in China
In January, Ross Peddicord, Executive Director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, was the guest of Mr. Wen Tao Wang, chairman of the BrotherFortune Group companies, at his corporate headquarters in Beijing and at the firm’s 6,000-acre ranch in Inner Mongolia.

The purpose of the trip was to explore partnership possibilities between Maryland and China in attempts to build state horse parks. Mr. Wang and his staff had been impressed by the 2006 Feasibility Study done for the proposed Maryland Horse Park at the Naval Academy Dairy Farm and were eager to discuss synergies between the two proposed projects, although the Maryland facility, for various reasons, was not built.

Currently, MHIB and the Maryland Department of Agriculture are doing a Viability Study in conjunction with the Maryland Stadium Authority and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development to consider continuation of our proposed Maryland Horse Park project.

Mr. Wang is further along in the process of creating a horse park in China. He has selected his site and hosted a one-week International Horse Festival last summer in the nearby city of Kangbashi in the Ordos district, to showcase equestrian sports. While in China, Ross was among five people selected by Mr. Wang to testify at a hearing of government officials about the economic and cultural benefits of building such an equestrian center. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Chinese government awarded a $30 million grant to Mr. Wang to begin Phase I of the project.

Subsequently, BrotherFortune officials asked Ross to help locate a Maryland or U.S. firm to partner with a Chinese company to help design their facility.

Later in the spring, Mr. Wang and a few associates came from China to spend time in Maryland. Ross and MHIB played host, bringing the group to Maryland equestrian venues such as the Preakness Stakes and the Potomac Hunt Races.

Ross returned to China again over the summer.

 

International Games
Mackenzie Taylor (on spotted pony) and Evan Becker (holding U.S. flag) competed this summer on the U.S. Mounted Games team in Wales.


Evan Becker of Frederick and Mackenzie Taylor of Damascus represented the United States at the International Mounted Games Association World Team Championships held in Wales over the summer. As a team, the U.S. reached the A Final at the Royal Welsh Show. They competed in front of 30,000 people and finished sixth overall out of 17 countries. This was the best finish by a U.S. team in 14 years and the best finish ever on foreign soil.

Rege Dvorsky and Jeanne Leone adopted Mackenzie’s pony Inkspot from Days End Farm Horse Rescue in 2007. Rege and Jeanne sent the pony to TaylorMade Stables to be started under saddle by Robert and Kathy Taylor. The Taylors saw the talent within the young pony for mounted games and asked if their daughter Mackenzie could start competing her. One thing led to another and the pair has had success both here in the U.S. and abroad.

Together this summer, Mackenzie and Inkspot were able to extend their stay in Europe, competing in the International Mounted Games Association individual World Championships. The pair won their division and Mackenzie is now currently the reigning World Under 17 champion.

 

Arabians at Rigby Farm

Sharon Clark’s Rigbie Farm in Darlingtown is home to several Arabian racehorses owned by Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, brother of the current United Arab Emirates president. Sheikh Tahnoon has been breeding, training and racing horses out of Rigbie Farm for 20 years and has been producing top international racehorses.

Two of these horses, Dixies Valentine and Golden Odessy recently won Darley Awards and were also recipients of the March Touch of Class Award, presented by the Maryland Horse Industry Board.

 

Chloe Reid Sores Through Europe with the U.S. Junior Show Jumping Team

In March of this year, Chloe Reid of Washington D.C. was selected by the U.S. Equestrian Federation to be a member of the U.S. Junior Show Jumping Team for the summer European tour. The tour included competitions Belgium, France and Germany.

The first stop on the tour was the CSIOYJ Bonheiden in Belgium on May 17-20. Chloe competed as an individual at Bonheiden aboard Toulon, owned by Chloe D. Reid LLC and Zsa Zsa, owened by M.M.A. Everse. The U.S. team tied for fourth place with Belgium in the Nations Cup on a score of 32. Germany won this competition with a score of 13.

France was next for the group of junior and young riders at the CSIOYJ Reims show on May 31-June 3. Here Chloe rode Toulon again but her second mount was Eurocommerce Damascus, owned by Gevi International B.V. This time, Chloe was part of the U.S team, which finished in second place.

The last stop on the summer tour was the CSIOJY Hagen in Germany on June 13-17. Chloe rode Eurocommerce Damascus to an 11th place finish in the Prize of Elektro Niemeyer class. She also rode in the CSIOY Grand Prix.

 

Maryland Dressage Rider Featured in Horse Hero Article


Marne Martin-Tucker grew up on cattle ranches in Oregon, Montana and Wyoming before moving to Maryland. She has experience in foxhunting, show jumping and polo but more recently has excelled at dressage both here in the states and in Europe through the Grand Prix level. The Equiery has followed Marne’s European show success since she moved overseas several years ago.

Most recently, Marne and Royal Coeur have been working on the movements needed to move up to Fourth Level. With her Grand Prix horse Escobar, Marne continues to score in the 70s. Her four-year-old Quarterflash has started his competition career in the 4-Year-Old classes and her newest addition, Odessa M has just been started under saddle.

Her success in Europe caught the attention of HorseHero.com who wrote a feature article on Marne this past March. The group also filmed Marne riding Royal Coeur and Quarterflash for training videos with Natalie Allen. Marne is currently working on various arrangements to move all the horses back to the U.S. for the winter.

Marne Matin-Tucker and Escobar
Marne Martin-Tucker and Royal Coeur
Marne Martin-Tucker and Odessa M

 

©TheEquiery2012