The Horse Wise podcast shares stories of horses and people – and what they teach each other. Horses bring wisdom, humor, athleticism and inspiration into our lives. Join host Lynn Reardon as she encounters entertaining characters (horse and human) on her own horsemanship journey.
This interview is the last of a series in honor of the Retired Racehorse Project TB Makeover event in Oct 2019. Erin Shea and I discuss the history of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (“TAA”) and the evolution of its partnership with the racing industry. TAA accredits charities that provide assistance to off-track TBs throughout the US. Due to their rigorous accreditation process, TAA literally sets the standard for aftercare in the nation. Once accredited, organizations are then eligible for grants through TAA. The TAA accreditation and grants allow TB charities to gain key national support for their work that they might not otherwise be able to access.
The TAA accreditation process also promotes the sharing of best practices and mentoring among TB aftercare charities. I’m honored that the aftercare charity I founded (LOPE) has been been accredited since 2015. Speaking from experience, TAA has played an invaluable role in LOPE’s warhorse program. Because of their accreditation and support, LOPE has been able to take in warhorses from all over the US (including Puerto Rico).
Since 2012, the TAA has granted more than $13.8 million to accredited aftercare organizations and 9,000 Thoroughbreds have been retrained, rehomed, or retired by accredited organizations. Currently, 70 organizations with approximately 160 facilities hold TAA accreditation.
TAA is one of the official charities of the 2019 Breeders Cup — plus will have a presence during the World Championships. They are excited to announce that Keeneland has initiated their tote donation software — so anyone can donate to TAA from a winning ticket from a self-service betting terminal. Please consider a donation to TTA before the end of the year. Their work is invaluable to the aftercare of Thoroughbreds retiring from their track careers — and a donation to TAA helps horses receive top notch care from the best groups in the US!
Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance:
Retired Racehorse Project TB Makeover:
Horse Wise Education Services:
This interview is part of a series in honor of the Retired Racehorse Project TB Makeover event in Oct 2019. Erin Crady and I have a fascinating discussion about the evolution of Thoroughbred aftercare and TCA’s role in the industry. TCA’s history literally began in a living room (a very nice living room at CandyLand Farm) over thirty years ago. Since then, TCA has has provided over $23M grants to over 200 Thoroughbred related organizations.
In addition to aftercare groups,ŤCA also supports Thoroughbred incentive programs, backstretch and farm employee programs, equine-assisted therapy programs that utilize Thoroughbreds and equine research. Their Horses First Fund is a ground breaking initiative to assist Thoroughbreds in crisis situations (such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico). TCA is the Presenting Sponsor of the prestigious Retired Racehorse Project TB Makeover. They have supported the Makeover since 2012 (at its inception) and its mission of creating markets and public demand for OTTBs in the show ring.
Held each January, TCA’s largest fundraiser is a Stallion Season Auction. The event consists of an online and a live auction of select seasons and other items. Most seasons sell during the online auction however approximately 10 select seasons, as well as other items such as trips and tickets to sporting events, are sold during a live auction. Their next Stallion Season Auction will be on January 8-10, 2020.
Thoroughbred Charities of America:
Retired Racehorse Project TB Makeover:
Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare (OTTB group in Puerto Rico that saved many racehorses after Hurricane Maria):
Horse Wise Education Services:
Confused about what to do with your horse next? I focus on certain core fundamentals — none of which involve fancy bits, complicated training methods or “woo woo” magic. They are discipline neutral and can be applied to any breed of horse. They aren’t even my own patented technique or anything silly like that (I promise you, I will never be selling monogrammed halters or specially designed magic wands). These are simple tools to learn how to 1) train your eye to see key elements of your horse’s behavior and movement; 2) develop your analytical and assessment skills (to accurately interpet what your eye sees ) and 3) physically direct your horse in exercises that build his confidence and balance (via equine biomechanics principles). At Horse Wise, I teach people these tools so that they can learn how to coach themselves and their horses to progress together as a team. It’s a fun process that shows you how build a good partnership with your horse (in a practical, straightforward way). But my schedule for in-person sessions (both local and out-of-state) is pretty much full all the time. To meet long distance client demand, I’ve created an online coaching package (http://horsewisecoach.com/online-horsemanship-coaching/) to teach these principles (customized for each horse and rider). If you’re interested but online coaching seems a little weird, we have free pdfs with fun exercises to practice and learn more on your own. Plus I offer a free 30-minute consultation call, to discuss whether online coaching is the right approach for you and your horse (and if not, what other resources might be useful for you in your geographic area). Visit our website for more information: http://horsewisecoach.com/ And if you’d like to keep up with our news and updates, please join our email list or follow us on social media: https://www.facebook.com/HorseWiseCoach/ https://www.instagram.com/horse_wise/ )
This interview is the first of a series in honor of the upcoming Retired Racehorse Project TB Makeover event in Oct 2019. Sarah Coleman and I have an entertaining talk about racehorse adoption, horse show swag, cat herding techniques and the importance of the color pink. We also discuss the importance of education in the horse world – and how both New Vocations and Horse Wise focus on education as a key part of our programs.
New Vocations is the oldest and largest racehorse adoption charity in the country. They adopt and rehab hundreds of horses each year. Sarah runs the special events at NV and oversees the development of their lovely headquarters at Mereworth Farm in Kentucky.
One of the signature events at NV is their annual All-Thoroughbred Charity Horse Show and T.I.P. Championships. The show is held at the Rolex Stadium, Walnut Arena and Hunter/Jumper Complex at the Kentucky Horse Park on Sept 6-8 this year. Sarah has run this show since its debut – and has made it into a wonderful showcase event for Thoroughbred lovers and owners. http://newvocations.org/kentucky-charity-thoroughbred-show/
Informative links from the interview:
Other Awesome TB Racehorse Adoption Groups:
Retired Racehorse Project TB Makeover:
Sarah Coleman Instagram (if you want to follow her addiction to the color pink):
Horse Wise Education Services:
This interview was full of great information and much laughter! Dr. Jyme Nichols and I have a fascinating discussion on equine nutrition breakthroughs and the parallels to new theories for human nutrition. Issues such as leaky gut, ulcers, inflammation and metabolic disorders have surprising connections in both horses and humans. Dr. Nichols is an ARPAS certified Professional Animal Scientist (PAS) in the Equine discipline. She is the Director of Nutrition for Bluebonnet Feeds and leads efforts behind the Stride Animal Health brand.
Lest you think she is a boring scientist type, Dr. Nichols is a true cowgirl who grew up on a ranch at the border of Nebraska and South Dakota. Her family included saddle bronc riders, ropers and barrel racers. She went to college on a rodeo scholarship. After entering her graduate academic program, Dr. Nichols then assisted in coaching the team members to a national championship. In between rodeo competitions, her published research focused on managing blood glucose and insulin concentrations in horses with an oral psyllium supplement. Which sounds technical but just think about it as related to Snickers bars and Captain Crunch.
Dr. Nichols’ additional research has focused on identifying equine veterinarians' educational needs in equine nutrition. Dr. Nichols has been part of the Bluebonnet Feeds team since 2011.
Informative links from the interview:
Bluebonnet Feeds product line: https://bluebonnetfeeds.com/
Oral Plasma information (the biggest tip from the interview): https://strideanimalhealth.com/content/product-info/LIFELINE_TechBul.pdf
Dr. Nichols’ dissertation (Identifying Equine Veterinarians' Continuing Educational Needs in Equine Nutrition): https://shareok.org/handle/11244/320979
For regional listeners in Texas/Oklahoma counties, please check out Lindsay Burer’s informative page. She is an Equine Nutrition Consultant and often holds terrific educational events: https://www.facebook.com/lbequinenutrition/
As always, for more information on Horse Wise and our national education services: http://horsewisecoach.com/
Jennifer Holme is a dedicated dressage rider and Horse Wise client. She has two wonderful geldings (Teddy and Jade) who are truly her dream horses. An adult amateur, Jennifer learned to ride as a child. But after a fall, she put aside horses to focus on dance, college and adulthood. Twenty years later, a lesson at a hunter/jumper barn led her back to horses. She hasn’t looked back since. Her journey has included multiple disciplines (jumping, western and her current passion of dressage), a move to Texas and two quests for the perfect horse (which resulted her acquisition of both Teddy and Jade). Teddy is former reining horse with a heart of gold and the build of a burly dachshund. Jade is a young Lusitano with fabulous dressage potential and a sweet temperament. During the interview, Jennifer discusses how classical horsemanship has helped with her dressage goals and (most importantly) her riding partnership with Jade and Teddy. For more information on Horse Wise and to download a free study guide, please visit our website at www.horsewisecoach.com
Jennifer has worked with both Penny Reeves of Graymar Farm and with Nancy Fair of Fair Oaks Farm. She also has attended a key clinic with Linda Hoover (sponsored by Horse Wise). Please visit their sites for more information about their wonderful services:
Nancy Fair: https://www.facebook.com/nancy.fair.7
Penny Reeves: https://www.facebook.com/Graymar-Farm-195344433861590/ (also, please see our earlier podcast interview episodes with Penny)
Linda Hoover: https://www.facebook.com/LindaHooverRefinedHorsemanship/
Horse Wise: https://www.facebook.com/HorseWiseCoach/
Shadow Warrior was a handsome, well-bred Thoroughbred gelding. His sire, A.P. Indy, was a huge personality at the track. Even now, at age 30, A.P. Indy still has swagger (see link below to his 30th birthday video). Shadow had his father’s good looks, competitive fire and epic presence. Born in 2008, he raced 83 times and retired at age 9. Shadow ended his career in Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in Sept 2017. Abandoned at the track, Shadow was rescued due to the heroic efforts of Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare. He came to the racehorse charity I ran (LOPE) in Dec 2017. It soon became clear that Shadow had intense aggression and PTSD issues. I had never encountered or worked with a horse as troubled as Shadow. But thanks to the mentorship and coaching of a good friend (Nathan Greiner), Shadow and I slowly made progress together for several months (see three-part series below for details). During that phase, Shadow helped many people learn — including at-risk youth, horsemen of the highest caliber and many racing professionals.
But then Shadow took a turn for both the better and the worse simultaneously. The combination led to behavior that was even more dangerous than before. Although Shadow’s life was much too short, it had great meaning and purpose. The last year of his life was happy, with many days of contentment and peace. I’ll always regret that I couldn’t develop the skills in time to help Shadow fully. But I'll never regret that I had the honor to know him, work with him, learn from him and (lastly) own him. Many thanks and deep gratitude to all the people who helped Shadow and me along the way: Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare, Gary Bailey of Bail-e Horsemanship and Colt Starting, Tom Curtin Quality Horsemanship, The Burke Center for Youth, Dr. Matt Evans of Austin Equine Hospital — and most of all, Nathan Greiner.
Photo of Shadow Warrior: http://tjr.me/galleries/horses/images/shadow-warrior/
A.P. Indy 30th birthday video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X58Nc1_FTDI
3 Part Series on Shadow’s progress in 2017 and 2018:
Pt 1: https://mailchi.mp/lopetx/shadow-warrior-a-heros-tale
Pt 2: https://mailchi.mp/0fda8b89e31a/shadow-warrior-a-heros-tale-3231277
Pt 3: https://mailchi.mp/lopetx/shadow-warrior-a-heros-tale-3235509
For me, Horse Wise began in 2007. Back then, I was running a racehorse adoption ranch and blogging about my experiences. Whenever I would write about a key lesson that a horse taught me, I would tag the post as “Horse Wise.” From that beginning, Horse Wise has evolved into a coaching and teaching service for people and horses. My history with horses started with learning to ride as an adult (in weekly group riding lessons). A full-time office worker with a normal job, I soon found horses taking over more and more of my life (including a memorable volunteer stint with a mounted Park Police unit). Eventually, I moved from Washington DC to Texas and started the racehorse adoption charity LOPE (http://lopetx.org/ ). The ex-racehorses provided me with an incredible education about horses, horsemanship and life itself. They also brought me memorable teachers, starting with the best of them all — Ray Hunt (http://www.alegacyoflegends.com/the-legacy.html). Thanks to the LOPE horses, I wrote a popular book (Beyond the Homestretch) about my work. To my surprise, I then steadily grew into becoming a teacher/coach for horses and their people. For more information about Horse Wise and the services we offer, please visit: http://horsewisecoach.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/HorseWiseCoach/
A pretty mare was performing badly in a cow working class. She was anxious about making a mistake and didn’t want to let her cowboy rider down. But it seemed like she always did, no matter how hard she tried. The cowboy was frustrated with the mare and wondered why she was so untalented. She had a stellar cutting horse pedigree and ideal conformation for the sport. While he was a good rider and all-around nice guy, he had missed a key point. With a few quiet comments, a tactful clinician helped him understand that the mare was simply a reflection of his own expectations. For more information about Horse Wise and our services, please visit: http://horsewisecoach.com/
Jessica and Blaze were a good team. A seasoned professional horse trainer and competitor, Jessica had worked with many green horses. Blaze, a young OTTB, was her latest training project. He had been one of the calmest horses she had ever worked with. But then “all of a sudden” Blaze began to rear in his training sessions. What was going on? After watching Jessica and Blaze work together for ten minutes, it became very clear where they had taken a wrong turn. Find out what I saw — and how it turned out that a few simple steps had led to the problem. For more information about Horse Wise and our services, please visit: http://horsewisecoach.com/
Many years ago, I played extremely low goal polo. My small budget (and dismal lack of hitting skills) limited me to an inexpensive practice membership at a local club. Each week, I would play practice chukkers with my duo of polo ponies (Pepe and Presidente). I was known on the field for always missing the ball (seriously) — and for my enthusiastic defensive plays. One summer, I got the chance to play in a casual club tournament game. Full of excitement and determination, I put in my best ever performance in the game. To my dismay, it also became the worst memory of my obscure polo career. Pepe and Presidente wouldn’t talk to me for days afterward. For more information on the sport of polo, please visit the US Polo Association at https://www.uspolo.org/ To learn more about Horse Wise and our services, please visit: http://horsewisecoach.com/
When working with horses. it often can be hard to see the difference between technique and approach/tone. Most people understandably will focus on mechanics rather than presentation. But horses respond as much (or more) to tone as they do to technique. Each horse is different in how they learn (just like people). It’s important to understand what an individual horse needs — so you can then adapt your approach to fit the situation (and the horse). In this episode, I tell the story of how one good gelding demonstrated this lesson to a cowboy. The cowboy was seasoned and kind-hearted — but he had watched a little too many television training programs. By the end of their session, they both had learned a great about each other (without once turning on the TV). For more information on Horse Wise, please visit http://horsewisecoach.com/
When I first started a racehorse adoption charity (LOPE), I was a complete novice at running a farm or training green horses. Did this stop me? No, that would have been too easy. Instead I cheerfully plunged ahead, oblivious to potential downsides of my inexperience. While my open-mindedness and optimism were terrific traits, I did end up learning many things the hard way. Like the importance of awareness when working with horses. Or of verifying information provided by other horse people (who may have issues with awareness themselves). In this episode, I share two entertaining stories of calm horses and savvy owners who weren’t quite what they seemed. They taught me valuable lessons about safety and observation skills that I never forgot. I hope you enjoy these tales of my misadventures — and that you never have to learn these things the hard way (like I did). For more information on LOPE’s work, please visit www.lopetx.org or https://www.facebook.com/LOPETEXAS/
Cassie and her mare Sasha are both teenagers (age 16 and 17 respectively).They’ve been a team for six years (Sasha was Cassie’s 10th birthday present). Together, they have accomplished much in the show world (including US Pony Club Finals and US Dressage Championships). But their biggest challenge was their quest for USDF Bronze, a journey that brought many twists and turns. In 2018, Cassie was within one score of achieving the Bronze. But when Sasha began to show signs of stress and tension, Cassie had to make a choice. Was it better to push Sasha to get that last score right away? Or to give her a break from showing and possibly not achieve Bronze at all? Cassie’s decision made all the difference to Sasha — and changed her perspective on competitive goals. Cassie has been an intern at LOPE since 2017. She has shown much dedication to horsemanship and to her feisty mare Sasha. . For more information on LOPE’s teen and young adult internship programs, please visit http://lopetx.org/starting-gate-program-for-future-horsemanship-leaders/ To reach their USDF Bronze goals, Cassie and Sasha trained with Ashley Shaw Dressage in Dripping Springs, TX (https://www.facebook.com/ashleyshawdressage/)
Dr. Matt Evans DVM is an equine vet, stand-up comic, landscape painter, master gardener and all-around Renaissance man. He decided to become an equine vet even though he had no experience with horses prior to vet school. Matt doesn’t let details like that get in the way of bold career moves. In addition to being a partner at Austin Equine Hospital and pursuing multiple creative endeavors (like parenting), Matt is active in local community charity work AND is a runner. Seriously, this guy is like a super hero or something. Best of all, Matt is hilarious and finds the humor in every situation (especially those involving horses). In this interview, we discuss how artistic passions and equine veterinary work complement each other in his life. For more information on Matt’s adventures in landscape painting, please visit him on Instagram at @evanspaintingsandstuff. To learn more about his work as a veterinarian, please visit Austin Equine at @austinequine. For our Austin listeners, Matt will be competing for the title of Funniest Person in Austin at the Cap City Comedy Club on 4/16 at 8 pm. Finally, for those folks who want to learn more about my racehorse adoption charity (LOPE), please visit www.lopetx.org. Matt and the wonderful team at Austin Equine Hospital have generously sponsored LOPE since 2004.
My horse Santo is big, sweet QH with a heart of gold. He also is a very emotional kind of guy. Santo has LOTS of feelings that he wants to share with everyone, all the time. He had some dressage training (not a massive amount, but much more than I had as a rider). One year, I came to realize that both Santo and I needed to concentrate on foundation work together. So I took Santo to a clinic with Peter Campbell. I put aside my usual dressage tack — and I decided to ride in western gear (wade tree saddle, mecate reins). My goal was to concentrate on the fundamentals and do my best to set Santo up for success. A calm, slow ride without any dressage bells and whistles. Instead, a whirlwind of troubled colt swept across the arena, leaving a wake of chaotic riders behind him. The outcome turned out to be my first ever canter pirouette, an advanced dressage movement that I never expected to experience on Santo. This episode is dedicated to the memory of Peter Campbell (1964-2017).
For more information on Peter and how his clinics helped the horses at LOPE (the racehorse adoption charity I founded), please read this 2015 blog post from former LOPE staffer Suzanne: http://lopetx.org/blog/horsemanship/10-things-learned-peter-campbell-clinic/
Penny Reeves is the owner of Graymar Farm in Driftwood, TX. In this second part of her interview, Penny discusses the importance of horsemanship over show scores. For her, the horse is an individual to be treated as a partner -- both in the show pen and at home. Please see the first part of her interview in the Horse Wise episode titled The Never Ended Evolution of a Horse Crazy Kid. Penny is a multi-discipline show trainer, instructor and competitor. She acquired her first horse in fourth grade (a green broke Tennessee Walker purchased with money she saved). As an adult, she put horses aside to become a parent and grown-up. When her children became interested in horses, Penny (literally) jumped into her first ever formal riding lessons. From there, two horses named Pinto Bean and Strawberry led Penny into the world of jumping, 4H shows, western all-around competitions and professional training barn ownership. Along the way, Penny also became a health club owner, youth sports coach, radio personality and avid Western Dressage scholar/competitor. . Graymar Farm is a professional training/boarding facility with 50 horses in residence, along with three trainers (including Penny) and a close-knit, friendly community of aspiring show riders, horse lovers and lifelong students of the horse. For more information, please visit Graymar Farm at https://www.facebook.com/Graymar-Farm-195344433861590/
Penny Reeves is the owner of Graymar Farm in Driftwood, TX. She acquired her first horse in fourth grade (a green broke Tennessee Walker purchased with money she saved). As an adult, she put horses aside to become a parent and grown-up. When her children became interested in horses, Penny (literally) jumped into her first ever formal riding lessons. From there, two horses named Pinto Bean and Strawberry led Penny into the world of jumping, 4H shows, western all-around competitions and professional training barn ownership. Along the way, Penny also became a health club owner, youth sports coach, radio personality and avid Western Dressage scholar/competitor. Graymar Farm is a professional training/boarding facility with 50 horses in residence, along with three trainers (including Penny) and a close-knit, friendly community of aspiring show riders, horse lovers and lifelong students of the horse. For more information, please visit Graymar Farm at https://www.facebook.com/Graymar-Farm-195344433861590/
Tulsa Mambo was an opinionated racehorse with a big personality. He was the first horse I ever met who had a truly sarcastic sense of humor. But underneath that prankster facade, Tulsa had a heart of gold - as well as a heroic sense of chivalry. He first came into my life in 2003, when he joined the LOPE racehorse adoption ranch. Tulsa was the first ever "warhorse" to come to our program. Warhorses are racehorses who ran at least 50 times, often retiring at an older age (7 or above) from the track. Tulsa's mischievous adventures eventually earned him a whole chapter in my book (Beyond the Homestretch). A truly unique character, Tulsa taught me much about horsemanship and life. Not to mention rattlesnakes. Visit LOPE at www.lopetx.org for more information about our work with ex-racehorses.