October 2017 Issue - page 1

Vol. 24 No. 10
Our 24th Year
October 2017
LANC., PA 17604
(Continued on page 8)
Resources for caring for your
senior horse … pg. 18-20
Pennsylvania Equine Council Fall
Newsletter … pgs. 26 & 27
Amid scathing comments by Jockey Club
president, PA augments testing… pg. 4
Songbird retires after scan shows
catastrophic breakdown likely … pg. 6
Plantation Field: Davidson finally wins
his hometown event …. pg. 16
…and much more!
NEW: Senior Horses feature!
By Marcella Peyre-Ferry
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, com-
peting at the international level
in three-day eventing, McIn-
tosh 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 wheel-
chair 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.”
McIntosh’s husband Brian
was worried about the idea of
her returning to riding, but her
desire to get back on a horse as
soon as possible was not going to
be deterred. “I was very lucky,
one of my best eventing friends
had a therapeutic riding program
running at her farm, so she had
all the perfect horses to start me
with,” she said. “I really laid the
ground work with my physical
therapist. After about 6 months
I was able to start riding with
Jane Cory at what used to be the
CORT Center for Therapeutic
Margaret McIntosh’s new mare, Heros, overcame a flight from Great Britain to the U.S., three weeks of
quarantine, a ten hour van ride and a new venue to finish as reserve champion at the USEF Para Eques-
trian Dressage National Championship in Tyron, NC in September.
Photo credit: Lindsay Y. McCall
Margaret McIntosh, Fresh from Europe, is Reserve Para-Equestrian Champion
Riding at Pleasant Hollow Farm
in Quakertown. She had the
perfect horses for me to start out
with and walked with me every
step of the way.”
McIntosh, the mother of
two, is able to ride with the help
of adaptive equipment. “I started
out with a bar across the front of
my saddle that I could hold on
to; I no longer use that,” she said.
“My feet are actually tied to the
stirrups and the stirrups tied to the
girth because with my spasticity,
my legs tend to shoot out straight.
That’s not very conducive to rid-
ing. My hands are not very strong
so I use reins with loops in them.”
Core Strength Key
Building the strength needed
to ride takes exercise on the
ground as well. “Core strength is
one of the most important aspects
of riding. As a para-equestrian,
I’ve worked really hard to develop
my core strength,” McIntosh said.
“Some of the best para-equestrian
riders have very little purchase
other than a very strong core.”
McIntosh credits her growth
in core strength to the work she
has been able to do at a local
facility, Chris Kaag’s Corps
Fitness, which provides cross-fit
type training, plus she does spin-
ning classes.
Over time, Cory encour-
aged McIntosh to contact the US
Paralympic Team Coach at that
time, Missy Ransehousen.
Five Grades
Paralympic competition in
dressage is structured in five lev-
els, or grades. McIntosh competes
in Grade One, which is for riders
with the most limitations. Tests
are limited to walk only, but riders
must still be accurate in their tran-
sitions, the shape of their figures,
and the rhythm of the horse.
“Your coach is allowed to
warm the horse up for you, to get
them all ready and to walk around
the outside of the ring. Once you
enter the ring, you’re absolutely
on your own,” McIntosh said.
Riding a dressage test at just
a walk is not easy. “It’s quite chal-
lenging actually. As an able-bod-
ied rider, you use transitions often
to balance your horse or re-engage
them and focus their energy. When
you’re in there walking, you don’t
really have a chance to do that,”
McIntosh said. “It’s all about
communicating with the horse and
figuring out how to communicate
with that horse on any level.”
McIntosh has had many
successes as a para-equestrian and
was a member of the United States
Paralympic team in Rio de Janiero
in 2016. This summer, she traveled
to Europe to train and compete in
Para-Dressage competitions.
“The whole paralympics
movement started in Great Britain,”
she said. “They’re years ahead of us
in their methods and their compe-
tition. The depth of competition in
the United Kingdom is exponen-
tially ahead of the United States.
We have 20 athletes that compete in
para-equestrian; in the United King-
dom there are hundreds in their
very well-developed system.”
For the Paralympics last year,
McIntosh’s mount was her mare
Rio Rio. “She was a very talented
horse who was being competitive
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