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Pennsylvania National Horse Show Presents the Equine Comeback Challenge
The 69th annual Pennsylvania National Horse Show, held October 9-18 at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA, will host the first-ever east coast Equine Comeback Challenge (ECC). Ten trainers from across the mid-Atlantic region will be paired randomly with ten mature, never ridden rescue horses for 90-days of training. Skills learned will be demonstrated in a trail class in which competitors are judged on how well they navigate 10 obstacles intended to display the horse’s willingness and performance.
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Horses Lucky to Be Alive Train for a Career in the
Equine Comeback Challenge
by Stephanie Shertzer Lawson - September 2014
There’s an interesting experiment underway, the results of which will be unveiled in Harrisburg, PA in October. Is it possible for a group of horses that have been so badly mistreated they are lucky to be alive, regain trust in humanity and become useful riding companions – or more?
Rico Suave is the name rescuers gave to an 8 year old thoroughbred stallion who was seized with 14 other emaciated horses from a farm so covered in junk, “it looked as though a B52 flew over with roll-off dumpsters and bombed the place with garbage,” rescuers said.
Humane officers found two dead horses, both still wearing their halters and racing shoes, partially eaten by coyotes. The others were locked in a ramshackle barn or fenced into a barely half acre paddock of mud. Those had resorted to eating the bark off trees and the wooden fence posts. The tiny paddock was strewn with debris – old building materials, scrap pieces of metal, old wooden boards with nails poking out of them, old farm equipment and appliances, pieces of cars and trailers. The humane officer said they were “in the worst condition [I’ve] ever seen for horses,” and had body scores of at best 1.5 to 2 (out of 9 in the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System). One horse had a broken leg that had gone untreated for a month or more. Another had injured itself on the debris in the paddock and had a large, festering wound.
US Team Heads to Harrisburg for PA National Horse Show
Currently competing, and winning, in Europe, the United States Show Jumping team is letting the world know it is ready for the World Cup Finals and beyond. These same horses will travel back to the USA for the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, held at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA October 9–18. Last year’s show jumping competition was dominated by the riders from Ireland. Come cheer on the USA riders as they seek to reclaim top honors at one of America’s most competitive events.
With more than $485,000 in prize money, 1,400 horses and 20,000 spectators over the ten days of competition, the challenge of winning a blue ribbon for both the Hunters and Jumpers is intense. But competition is interspersed with special attractions that add variety and fun. Outside the main arena there is much to see and enjoy at your leisure. New this year, limited engagement vendors will be on the main concourse during Junior Weekend (October 9–12), coupled with Trunk Shows on the North Balcony and an expanded number of vendors. The shopping is not to be missed.
Proposed Ordinance Would Restrict
Unionville-Area Horse Operations
by Marcella Peyre-Ferry - September 2014
Even in areas that are traditionally equestrian strongholds, changing factors in the community can make it more difficult for stables to operate. As development moves in, stresses on farms increase.
Township Supervisors in Newlin Township, southern Chester County, PA are looking at an ordinance change that, if approved, would regulate horse businesses and limit the number of horses allowed on a property.
At the August 11 township meeting, horsemen packed the audience to let their elected officials know that they are opposed to the proposed ordinance change. Whether their complaints will stop the ordinance is yet to be seen.
Newlin Township, near Unionville and Kennett Square, is located in the midst of foxhunting, steeplechasing, eventing, polo, showing and driving interests. Horse farms have been operating in the township for decades, but the new ordinance would require them to comply with additional regulations they have never had to worry about in the past.
Feral Nokota Horses Are Therapists at Chester County’s Flowing Springs Farm
by Crystal Piaskowski - September 2014
Low rumbles of thunder growled across the pasture, but a silvery-blue roan paid them no heed. He stood steadfast in the sheeting rain, his left hind cocked calmly as he ignored the three-sided shed built for his comfort. He is a hardy, rugged type, straight from the badlands of southwestern North Dakota. His name is Hunkpapa, and he is one of the seven feral Nokota horses at Flowing Springs Farm in Chester Springs, PA.
Christine McGowan runs the Nokota Horse Preserve and the Preserve Learning Center out of her 14-acre farm along with close friend and professional counselor, Kendra Prescott. McGowan started her career as a traditional English rider but without the means necessary to purchase her own horse at a young age. Instead, she made herself invaluable to the horse people around her and soaked up as much knowledge as she could. Finally, at age 40, she bought her first horse—an off-track Thoroughbred mare that scared her half to death.
However, when McGowan later moved to Flowing Springs Farm, she had a life-changing experience. A neighbor was riding down the lane on a breezy September morning, leading a toddler on another pony. McGowan was floored—“What are you on,” she had asked, “that you trust so much?” The answer was a Nokota.
The Nokota Horse is considered an ultimate in survival—DNA testing has traced the bands back to the lost horses bred by the Native American Hunkpapa Lakota chief Sitting Bull. Primarily remembered as the great warrior who contributed to the defeat of Lieutenant Colonel Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull was mainly a peacemaker and avid horseman.
No Longer Disappointing, Sweet Lou Wins Nine in a Row
by Kimberly French - September 2014
With a triumph in a track record 1:47.2 on Friday, August 9, in the Dan Patch Invitational Pace at Hoosier Park, 5-year-old Sweet Lou not only established a new track standard, but became the first horse in harness racing history to pace six consecutive sub 1:48 miles. The victory was his ninth in a row. He has already collected $916,500 and a world record. So why were drivers not clamoring to leap aboard the former 2-year-old champion and multiple millionaire prior to the start of the year?
“There was a point in the season last year where we couldn’t even find anyone to drive him,” explained Canonsburg, Pa. resident Ron Burke, who is the horse’s conditioner and co-owner. “And it wasn’t like he raced badly. It was one of the best groups of 4-year-olds I have seen and he had a lot of bad racing luck. We always knew what he was capable of.”
So did the rest of the harness racing world. As a 2-year-old Sweet Lou, who is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, LLC of Canonsburg, Pa, Phillip Collura of Mountain Top, Pa, and Lawrence Karr of Randolph, NJ, was a phenom. His 1:49 Breeders Crown win at Woodbine was the fastest mile ever for his age, gait and gender. He dominated his division, was a slam dunk for championship honors at years end with a record of 12-10-1-1, and earned just under $700,000.
Public Comment Requested on Proposal for $30 License
to Ride Game Land Trails
Edited press release - September 2014
At a September meeting, the Pennsylvania Game Commission will consider adopting a permit for non-hunters who use state game lands.
The proposed permit would be required only for those riding bicycles, horses or snowmobiles on designated game land trails. Others, such as hikers or birdwatchers, would not be affected.
A recent study concluded that low-impact users like hikers and birdwatchers typically don’t cause the types of damage to game lands – and associated repair costs – that the permit fee would help offset.
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners will consider the recommendation at its regular meeting to be held September 22 and 23 in Delmont, Pa.
Hunters Fund Game Lands
Historically, hunters and trappers have shouldered maintenance costs. Unlike state or county parks, the state game lands system was created and is maintained almost entirely with funds from the sale of hunting and furtakers’ licenses.