Margaret McIntosh of Reading, PA, an incomplete quadriplegic, is making her mark as a para-equestrian competing in dressage abroad and at home.
A promising rider, competing at the international level in three-day eventing, McIntosh broke her neck during the cross-country phase of an eventing competition in 1999. She was 44 and initially, she was completely paralyzed.
“You can imagine how lucky I am. I spent six weeks in the Good Shepherd Rehab Hospital in Allentown. At the end of that time, I could walk very haltingly with a walker. At this point I can walk with two feet but I use a wheelchair for walking distances. The one good thing is I can still ride,” McIntosh, age 62, said. “Having ridden my whole life, it was pretty devastating at the time.”
With the goal of regaining as much of her mobility as possible, McIntosh has worked hard in the saddle and on the ground. “I think having been given a chance to regain a lot of my mobility, that in itself was an incentive,” she said. “When you’re in rehab, a lot of people will never leave their wheelchairs. Having always had the horses and having a goal, that gave me a boost.”
Unionville, PA local Bruce Davidson, Jr. has represented his country riding on numerous three-day eventing teams, competed at the world’s most renowned and challenging competitions, and long been considered one of the sport’s elite riders. “Buck” had not, however, managed to clinch the three-star win at his hometown event, Plantation Field International. Last weekend he finally claimed victory in Unionville, a success made all the sweeter by its close proximity to his family’s hallowed Chesterland Farm.
Buck has ridden Copper Beach, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse, since he and Carl Segal bought him at the prestigious Goresbridge Go for Gold Sale in Ireland when the gelding was just five. Buck has taken his time with “Sean,” owned together by Carl and Cassie Segal and Sherrie Martin, to preserve his soundness while giving him a solid education at every level.
“He’s still a young horse, but he’s been going for so long. I’ve been very fortunate to have [owners] that let me do what I need to do and take our time. We didn’t go fast at all at horse trials at least until he was ten,” Davidson said. “The most important thing is keeping them sound so they can be trained. That’s kind of been my theory. The owners have allowed me to do that and I think it’s been really good for Sean.”
“What has happened in Pennsylvania recently is disgraceful and sad, especially when you consider that the state is the sixth leading producer of foals and that it hosted approximately 4,000 races and distributed more than $100 million in purses in 2016.” That was The Jockey Club Chairman Stuart Janney III, speaking at the 2017 Jockey Club Round Table Conference in Saratoga in August. Not exactly a stellar endorsement of Pennsylvania’s horseracing industry.
Among the events Janney was referring to was the trial of Penn National-based trainer Murray Rojas. She was accused of numerous violations, including illegally administering banned drugs to horses within 24 hours of races, and conspiring with veterinarians to back-date prescriptions and thus create the appearance that she was complying with the laws pertaining to the administration of certain drugs. In addition, she was accused of administering drugs without the written or verbal direction of a licensed veterinarian.
Where have you gone, Songbird? That was the tune the two-time champion's legion of fans were singing throughout her 4-year old campaign. The power and acceleration Songbird displayed the past two seasons where she dominated her competition just wasn't there.
After a pair of narrow one-length victories early this summer, the dark bay filly was run down in the deep stretch by multiple Grade-1 winner Forever Unbridled in the $700,000 Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 26. Afterwards owner Rick Porter had seen enough.
“Of course, it's frustrating, very disappointing, I knew we had a decent field to run against," said a clearly discouraged Porter. "Something's not right. She is just not right, and I will get her checked out. She doesn't let horses pass her, that was probably part of it. I am not comfortable that she is 100 percent healthy. Anyway, this is not the Songbird we have been seeing the last three races, just doesn't seem to be the same Songbird, it's only right to have her checked out.
Cowgirls and cowboys, it is time to brush the cobwebs from your saddle. A new association called East Coast Ranch Riding Association (ECRRA) is just what the horse and rider needs. The equine industry has been changing and over the past decade has disappointed the average western rider who just wants to ride and show in an affordable atmosphere with natural moving horses. Time for a new ride in town! Welcome to ECRRA.
Most western equestrians have heard by now about Ranch Riding, which is taking the horse industry by storm. The discipline is now sanctioned by many horse associations across the country and is creating a rodeo of chatter. Organizations like the AQHA are discovering these classes generate new members and income in an industry that has been declining.