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Boarders Charged, Horses Seized from Former Lycoming County Rescue
by Suzanne Bush - April 2014

On February 20, Lycoming County Humane Police Officer Larry Woltz seized eight horses from a farm in Linden, PA. It was the culmination of an investigation that Woltz says began in 2007. From beginning to end, the story of these horses is a chronicle of everything that is wrong and many things that are right about the business of protecting animals from the things people do to them.

The eight horses taken from the farm owned by Joni and Ted Fink were neglected, starving, suffering from open sores on their backs and rotting feet. Two dead horses had been buried under manure between two barns on the property.

Absent Owners Unaware of Neglect
Woltz says that the Finks were running a boarding operation at their farm. He has filed charges against them, but also against the owners who were paying the Finks to take care of their horses. “In order for us to possibly secure all eight horses I filed citations on everybody—Joni, Ted, the boarders,” he explains. He said he was following legal precedents in equine law. Legally he could not seize horses that were not owned by the farm, unless he charged the absent owners of the horses that were also seized.

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Top Billing Off Derby Trail, Samraat, Ring Weekend
Headed to Louisville
by Terry Conway - April 2014

Fair Hill trainers and colts that spent time at the premier thoroughbred training center are making noise in the 2014 Derby preps. Both Graham Motion’s Ring Weekend and Rick Violette’s Samraat punched their ticket to Louisville in March races.

Give it up for Samraat, one hard-nosed colt. Race fans will be hard-pressed to come up with a Derby prep finish as thrilling as the one in the $500,000 Gotham Stakes run at 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct Racetrack. Coming from slightly off the pace the colt spotted weight to Uncle Sigh (five pounds) and In Trouble (three pounds), while jockey Jose Ortiz showed the utmost confidence hand-riding Samraat to the finish, turning back the inside challenges of Uncle Sigh and In Trouble. 

Samraat improved his record to five wins in as many starts. With the victory, he earned 50 points in the Kentucky Derby qualifying system, and as of the second week of March the son of Noble Causeway led all horses with 60 points.

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A Victory Gallop for a Beloved Institution
by Suzanne Bush - April 2014

Thorncroft Equestrian Center, the Malvern, PA home of one of the country’s first therapeutic equestrian programs, is easy to love and hard to leave. “My mother suggested I come out and help with some of the kids, because I was a rider,” Sallie Dixon explains. She started volunteering, and working part-time at the farm and eventually decided to try teaching. “I was able to teach a couple of lessons and eventually we decided I should do more than volunteer and teach, and so we got engaged.” That was in 1991, when Sallie met Saunders. They married in 1992.

Saunders Dixon looks back at the 45-year history of Thorncroft Equestrian Center, and marvels at how it has grown and changed.  He can’t explain how this lovely 70-acre parcel of gentle hills, pastures and meadows has survived through the often-tumultuous economy that buried other equestrian operations. “It just happened. It just evolved,” he says. “Things showed up. That’s how it happened. A lady—her name was Marge Harry—showed up and wanted to ride, so she was the first handicapped rider.” Harry was blind, but she was interested in horses, and that was reason enough for Dixon to try to make it work out.

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Local Filmmaker Visits Rolex, Writes Eventing Screenplay
by Crystal Piaskowski - April 2014

Eventing is about feel. Nothing is so thrilling as feeling a horse galloping along well in hand, intently locking onto a solid fence and then launching himself up and over in one single, fluid motion. Unless it’s the focused, driving energy of dressage when the rider sits square and tall and the horse floats, as if by magic, across the arena. Can that feel be translated to the silver screen? Most horse movies are notoriously impractical and difficult for equestrians to take seriously. However, Rick Hansberry, a screenwriter and producer from of Lancaster, PA, is determined to give the sport of eventing the recognition it deserves in his upcoming film.

“My wife rides and competes in local hunter shows, nothing rated, so when we went to Rolex last April for her 50th birthday, it was worlds above what I had been exposed to previously,” says Hansberry. “The one thing that really impressed me was the accessibility of world-class riders; they walk among you, talk to you, answer your questions…in what other sport would such successful athletes do that?”

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Look what’s coming up in the Pennsylvania Equestrian May 2014
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