Horse Problems Australia
Post Office Box 1361,
Victor Harbor, SA. 5211
0418814029
horseproblems@horseproblems.com.au

   


LINDA O'LEARY

25,000 letters answered and counting

 

 

 

 

31st August, 2014


Hi Folks.. Hope You had a lovely Week and are all well.

We'd like to welcome all of the new Agistees at Gainsborough, which has Dave Garland unable to find a Yard for his new Breaker lol.

Mrs. HP has been down there twice this Week, teaching Her Pupils down that way and in particular, Jess Demczuk, who is seen here keeping one of Her 'School Horses' up to scratch.

Desperate need of Rain as we haven't had any for almost a Month. I started watering Trees Today :(

 

 

OFF THE TRACK THOROUGHBREDS AND THIEVES

 

Here is a Channel 7 Today Tonight story done last Week. Have a look.

 

 

Riding out lately, has a weird flavor to it as this Paddock, mainly Scrub, has these Folk joining us for the ride and will follow for a couple of K, even picking their way through Scrub to be with us. Good training for the Boys.

 

 

One of my Pupils of late. This one c ame from Interstate and lacked Ground Manners but we moved onto an assessment of a major 'Over Bending' problem if You touch the Reins. Caused by Side Reins on the Breaker and the Owners riding Him on a Contact from Day One, jammed up in front. Next Week then, half a Lesson with Mrs. HP on this subject and half with me on continuing his Natural Horsemanship progress.

 

Dave Garland at Gainsborough, suggested he go buy a Standardbred to break in, for me to assess Him.......I had a better idea.

So out of pure Luck and good timing, along came this 3 Year Old Colt who is untouched and not halter broken and he was emptied out into one of our Round Pens as a present for Dave.

He had a Halter on Him on Day One so quite impressed. Horse is following People around in the Pen.........not bad........we shall see what the Week holds.

 

 

NEW BITS

Grazing BIt

D Ring

 

 

VETERINARY

 

 CONTROLLING WORMS IN YOUR HORSE


Like all grazing animals, horses are susceptible to worm infections. The symptoms can vary from nothing at all to a dull coat, poor growth rates or weight loss, colic and occasionally death. Therefore it is very important to implement a worm control program for all horses.


Non-chemical means of worm control

An effective worm management program in horses does not just consist of worming with anthelmentics. Following are some important measures for reducing your horse's exposure to worms:

Remove manure regularly from stables/yards/paddocks
Harrow paddocks to break up manure and spell them during dry hot weather
Alternately graze paddocks with sheep or cattle
Wash the perineum of pregnant mares prior to foaling to remove infective larvae
Don’t feed horses on the ground - use a hay ring and feed bins
Remove bot eggs from your horse's coat (flea combs are good for this job)
Keep foals and weanlings separate from yearlings and older horses to minimize the foals’ exposure to ascarids and other parasites.

Worming

The use of a wormer is important. Here are some general guidelines for worming:
Age Type of management Recommended treatment
Foal - up to 6mths All First treatment 6-8wks, then every 6wks after that (with appropriate wormer)
Young horse - 6-36mths All Treat every 6-12wks depending on stocking density and wormer recommendations
Mature horse Grazing alone over large area Treat every 3-6mths
Mature horse Grazing intensively with many horses Treat every 6wks (or as recommended by wormer used)
Pregnant mare All Should be treated just before foaling to control roundworm


Strategic worming

The ideal program depends on the type, number and ages of your horses, pasture management and your geographic location. The above guidelines can be tailored to your horses by performing faecal egg counts (FEC). This measures the number of worm eggs in a manure sample and can be used to estimate the worm burden in the horse. The FEC can also tell you what species of worms are present in your horse so that the best wormer can be selected.

If you would like a tailored worming solution for your horses, please call us.



RACING AFFECTS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM


Researchers in Norway have been investigating the effect of racing on the horse's immune system. They looked at the effect of one form of strenuous exercise (racing) on the lymphocyte proliferation response.

The team, from the country's National Veterinary Institute and School of Veterinary Science in Oslo, was lead by Dr Live Nesse. "We wanted to measure the lymphocyte proliferation response between 12 and 16 hours after strenuous exercise. As far as we know this is something that has not been done before."

The researchers took blood from eight racehorses all from the same training yard. They collected samples in the morning before the horses raced, about an hour after racing and on the following morning. Samples were also collected from three horses which did not race.

They separated the lymphocytes from the other cells in the blood sample and incubated them with or without one of three different mitogens. They found a significant reduction in lymphocyte proliferation in response to all three mitogens at 12 -16 hours after racing. In contrast, the horses that had not raced showed no change in response to the lymphocyte proliferation test on consecutive mornings. Horses also showed a significant increase in white blood cell count at 12 - 16 hours after racing.

When the researchers looked at the blood cortisol concentration they found that, immediately after racing, it was significantly higher than pre-racing levels. Twelve to sixteen hours after the end of the race the cortisol concentration had fallen significantly below pre-racing levels.

It was interesting that there was no change in cortisol level on consecutive days in the horses that did not race. Dr Nesse suggests that the apparent drop in cortisol on the morning after racing was in fact due to the pre-racing levels being elevated.

It may be that the horses were already anticipating the race because of the changes in routine that occurred on race days. Horses that did not race showed no difference between pre-and post racing morning samples.

The researchers suggest that the changes in increased white cell count and reduced lymphocyte proliferation are likely to be caused by the increased cortisol level. Changes in WBC numbers and lymphocyte proliferation persisted until at least 12-16 hours despite the cortisol returning to normal.

"The combination of high-intensity exercise and physiologic stress may have caused the consistent and relatively long-lasting reduction in lymphocyte proliferation in the horses in the study" explains Dr Nesse. Whether this means that horses are more likely to develop infections immediately after racing is unknown. However, it would be wise to avoid exposing horses to unnecessary sources of infection immediately after strenuous exercise.

 

 

CAN TRAINERS RECOGNIZE SIGNS OF STRESS?

The interpretation of ridden horse behaviour by equestrian professionals, vets, instructors and riders, was found to differ from that suggested by physiological evidence, according to Nottingham Trent University researchers Carol Hall, Rachel Kay and Kelly Yarnell. They presented their work at the 10th International Society for Equitation Science conference,held recently in Denmark.


Ridden horse behaviour was assessed by twelve equestrian professionals (4 instructors, 4 riders and 4 veterinary surgeons) as they viewed video footage of ten horses that were ridden at walk, trot and canter in a pre-defined ridden test lasting 2-3 minutes. The horses were scored on seven performance parameters derived from the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) rules for dressage and German National Equestrian Federation scales of training (relaxation, energy, compliance, suppleness, confidence, motivation and happiness).

 

The scientists also analysed the video footage independently. All aspects of the behaviour of the horse were recorded including ear position and movements, tail position and movements, mouth movements and salivation, auditory signals, head and neck position and nasal angle. Horses’ nose angles (behind and in front of the vertical) and head carriage (high, neutral and low indicated by the position of the horses’ nose relative to the body) were analysed.

In general, equestrian professionals scored horses who spent most of their time with a high head carriage negatively; and those with a lower head carriage more positively. This was contrary to the physiological evidence from stress related hormones measured in saliva and eye temperature. Only the instructors associated neutral head carriage (nose in line with body) and nose angle as a positive sign. FEI guidelines state that the nose should always be in front of the vertical and the physiological data gathered in this study supports this principle. Increased awareness of, and reference to, the FEI guidelines would ensure more consistent evaluation of ridden horse behaviour occurs.

 

 

I have always held that elastic, in all forms of training, be it ridden or tying up, is anti productive to training.

IS ELASTIC FANTASTIC?

 The impact of elastic inserts on rein tension Elastic has been used over the years to achieve ‘give’ and flexibility in equestrian equipment such as girths and reins. The reins provide a physical means for the delivery of signals/aids from the human to the horse. Rein design with the inclusion of elastic inserts are designed to "diffuse tension, to avoid pressure on the horse’s mouth and to avoid sustained tension on the reins". However researchers found that this design can have a substantial impact on the tensions applied particularly when making transitions during equitation. The study: "Is elastic fantastic? The impact of elastic inserts on rein tension" was conducted by Hayley Randle, PhD, Academic Lead: Quality and Research at Duchy College and Hon. President of the International Society for Equitation Science and Alison Abbey Equitation Science programme manager from Duchy College, UK. Randle and Abbey set out to determine the effect of elastic inserts in reins on first, the tension applied for normal riding and a walk to halt transition, and second, the ability to release the tension in the reins. Thirty female riders rode horses with either standard rubber or rubber reins with elastic inserts. Rein tensions were measured using a Centaur Rein Tension Gauge TM for left and right hands, with both rein types when taking up a normal riding contact and executing a walk to halt transition. The results of the study demonstrated significantly different tensions were applied by riders with the two types of rein. Lower tensions were exerted on reins with the elastic insert than with the rigid reins in the normal riding contact condition, whilst higher tensions were evident with elastic insert reins than with rigid reins in the walk to halt transition. The time taken for rein tension to return to zero following complete release by the rider was significantly greater, and less consistent, with the elastic insert reins than with the rigid reins. Since sustainable and ethical equitation relies upon the effective delivery and receipt of clear signals and timely pressure-release; rein tension and pressure-release should be used carefully and consistently in training. This study suggests that although elastic inserts in reins may result in less tension in general riding, they may alter riders’ behaviour in terms of the tension applied when executing a particular equitation task. Furthermore, elastic inserts in reins may have a deleterious effect on a rider’s ability to apply negative reinforcement accurately and therefore clarity during training. The impaired ability to simultaneously release pressure may have a negative impact on equine learning and training, and consequently equid stress and welfare. Further research is needed into the incorporation of materials such as elastics.

 

 

TIP OF THE DAY


" One of the greatest Training assets is take Your time, stay chilled, rely upon Your knowledge base and to let Horses rest"

 

 

HORSELAW


Nothing changes. There are some 'Mongrel Bastards' out there. This is a taste of one of them.....

A Client purchased a Horse from Queensland and on mount up, promptly bucked Him off  and then every time they attempted to re-mount, it bucked violently. The Vendor of course, says "Get stuffed" but upon investigation, the Locals tell us a bit more about the Dealer.

" Hi john we know the person who sold the Horse to Your Client.. Its not a first and these people have done it for a decade around here. There is many of us that live honestly but the ------ have no care for animals and have cases from beating horses till they crumble and even killing a horse in foal because she wouldnt float. They beat her till she had a heart attack. She has tied horses in her dam with a tie down when they refuse to collect and made her dogs swim after the horse until it gives. She has also been under investigation for the horrible case of 4 horses with missing limbs buried at======= (apparent dog attacks). Not everyone is born heartless but this women makes a fortune and if I could provide you with 5 minutes with her I wouldnt have to ever have this conversation "

 

BIAS, VINDICTIVE AND TARGETED REPORTING

the 'attack Dogs' of the Net.


This Mob,  https://www.facebook.com/EquiRiderProtect did a Number on Adelinde Cornellisen, here on Facebook and so to provide a level playing Field, I say they are being nasty, probably can't ride themselves and there is no doubt that they set out to damage Her and INFLAME.

So go look at the OH SO TERRIBLE PHOTOS. and then go and watch the Test. In particular, the end of the Filming where they have searched high and low for something to "Get Her on" and showed the "Mouth Opening", the Spur touching and a couple of MINOR technical problems.

So whilst I am not a Fan of the amount she has trained Her Horse to be 'On the Bit', a left over from the Anky era, the Horse was the happiest I have seen Him and the Test was pretty dam Good. That's why she won a Medal I would submit, in front of many Judges. So little Education for the biased EquiRiderProtect.

"100% OF F.E.I. DRESSAGE HORSES OPEN THEIR MOUTHS IN TESTS"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! but You didn't go get those photos of the Winner my Friend. The Reason for that is the Shockingly designed Double Bitting system that is crammed in the Mouths of Horses, most of who don't have Mouths that fit them.

100% of Dressage Riders can be caught via Snapshot, touching the side of their Horse with the Spur!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and 100% of Dressage Horses make small mistakes that can be highlited to promote one's own position.

and 100% of Dressage Horses can be caught on the down stroke of a Canter, in a Photo.

So on this occasion, well done Adelinde and they got up You to fire up a Storm. and it worked. Go read the Sheep who commented!!!!!

Everyone's a Journalist!!!.......hang on a Minute.....here is the Winner.....

ooooohhhhaaaaaa...back legs together....she can't ride!!!!!!!!!!

 

and the Second Horse.......

 

and wait a minute....Mouth Open...Ban Her.....

So go the Bitch but I wish People would have more independent judgement.

 

++++++++++

 

NEWS OF THE DAY

 

ENDURANCE HORSE DIES AT W.E.G.

By Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA Aug 28, 2014 Topics: Endurance Horse Industry News Print Email Favorite Share Tweet Newsletters A horse and rider struck a tree in Normandy, France, today during the endurance competition of the Alltech Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Alltech World Equestrian Games (WEG), resulting in the horse’s death. Dorado, a 12-year-old Arabian gelding from Costa Rica, and his 37-year-old rider Claudia Romero Chacon ran head-on into a tree during the first loop of the endurance race, which took place near Sartilly. The accident occurred about 45 minutes into the ride, just 400 meters from the 14-km checkpoint, WEG representatives said. Dorado suffered a head injury and died instantly, officials said, but further details were not immediately available. A necropsy will be performed, per FEI guidelines for such situations, the organization said. A thorough investigation into the accident is underway, officials said, but WEG veterinarians could not provide further details until the investigation is further along, the FEI told The Horse. Romero Chacon, 37, was conscious when transported to a nearby hospital. She has undergone surgery for fractures and internal injuries, WEG officials stated. She is in serious but stable condition. Two other riders were also injured during today’s endurance race. Isha Judd of Uruguay fell from her horse and sustained a fracture in her right femur. Additionally, Alberto Morales Morales, also of Costa Rica, was taken to a nearby hospital for observation after complaining of neck pain at the end of the first loop. No information on the condition of their horses has been released at this time. TheHorse.com will provide updates as additional information becomes available.

 

 

WOMAN AND HORSE TREATED AFTER THIS

Woman and horse treated on A38 following crash between Branston and The Land Rover Discovery and horse box overturned on the A38 between Branston and Clay Mills yesterday The Land Rover Discovery and horse box overturned on the A38 between Branston and Clay Mills yesterday  A WOMAN was taken to Burton's Queen's Hospital after her car overturned yesterday afternoon. West Midlands Ambulance Service said that a 4x4 towing a horse box overturned on the A38 between Branston and Clay Mills before two o'clock. A spokesman said that a woman was taken to the accident and emergency department at Queen's Hospital after suffering a hand injury as a result of the accident. Officers from Staffordshire Police also attended and the road was closed temporarily.A spokesman told the Mail: "We received a call just before 1.40pm reporting a collision involving a 4x4 and a horse box. Both the Land Rover Discovery and the horse box overturned and an ambulance attended the scene. A horse ambulance was also called. "The road was closed at around 2.10pm so that the horse could be treated and was reopened by 4.10. We can confirm that the horse did not suffer any serious injuries." Read more at

 

 

HORSE EUTHANZED AFTER HIT BY CAR

MORRIS TWP. One of two horses that escaped from Seaton Hackney Stables on South Street was struck early Friday by a car on Route 287 and had to be euthanized by State Police. "We're beyond devastated. It will be a sad day here," said Shelly Schumacher, who operates the stables with her husband Marc. A report of two horses running loose on the highway and along the median was called in around 4:35 a.m. and troopers were enroute when one of the animals was struck in the left, northbound lane near milepost 35.1 by a motorist driving a 2003 Toyota Corolla, said Sgt. Scott Wikander of the Netcong State Police barracks. The driver was not injured but his vehicle was heavily damaged and had to be towed from the scene. The horse sustained injuries and State Police euthanized it.

The left and center lane of the highway was shut down briefly so the horse could be pulled off the travel lanes, Wikander said. Schumacher said the euthanized horse was a male named Pokey and was "a beautiful, white quarterhorse" that all young patrons of the stables start out riding. She said the second horse, a male Friesian Cross named Undee, was a wedding gift from her husband. Undee is fine, she said, but also appears to have been slightly scraped in the accident. She said that she, her husband and stable workers are trying to figure out how the pair got out of the paddock but believe they must have jumped high, triple-fencing.

 Police went to the barn early today and workers notified the Schumachers at their nearby home. Marc Schumacher was able to capture Undee with a lead, his wife said. The horses were located about a mile from the stables, Shelly Schumacher said. "The most important thing is that the driver wasn't hurt. God was looking down on that man, God bless him. The police were extremely wonderful and the horse (Pokey) didn't suffer," Shelly Schumacher said. She said she will tell parents of the riders and leave it to them to break the news of Pokey's death. "They most likely jumped the fence, triple fencing. Sometimes they get rambunctious. The two were buddies and one followed the leader," Schumacher said.

 

 

CAN BLOOD TESTS SOLVE THIS PROBLEM? 

 

The Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville is headed into its big finale this weekend. Another grand champion will be crowned. Even under ever-increasing pressure from animal rights activists, the 76-year-old show continues to draw thousands. They watch from box seats as the well-manicured horses high-step around the dirt oval under stadium lights. As the organ vamps, the horses show off their signature stride. They drop their hind quarters and take sweeping steps with their back legs while kicking out their front hooves. “It’s actually in their genetics,” says Celebration director Mike Inman. “No other breed has that, which is what separates this walking horse.” Inman says even as yearlings, the Tennessee Walking Horse will stride across a field with their knee breaking above their chest, shaking their head in cadence. In the show ring, however, the champion horses where ankle chains and platform shoes, known as “action devices.”

 

For years, trainers have been pushing horses well past genetics to get that eye-catching step called the “big lick.” The banned practice is described generally as “soring.” Trainers make tiny cuts on a horse’s ankles and splash diesel fuel or mustard oil on them. The pain makes the horse step even higher. The Humane Society of the United States has been trying to end soring for years, even sneaking into barns to nab undercover video. “This is an industry that has been based for over 40 years on intentional infliction of pain and cruelty to animals,” says HSUS equine director Keith Dane. “It’s so widespread in the ‘big lick’ segment of this industry, that it’s got to stop.” Soring was outlawed by Congress in the 70s, but there’s been little enforcement. The Humane Society has gotten traction with new legislation that would give more teeth to the law. Tennessee’s delegation is split on the matter, but dozens of congressmen from both sides of the aisle have signed on. Yet it’s been fought to a standstill by the industry.

‘Objective Testing’

There’s money at stake, though not huge sums. The top prize is usually around $15,000.

As Sylvester Skierkowski of Murfreesboro watches his horses go through some final paces before competition, the longtime trainer says everyone wants the title of “World Grand Champion.” He helped train one in the late 70s.

“We worked more trying to keep that son of a gun sound than we did trying to hurt him,” he says. “That’s all I know.”

Still, there have been some high-profile soring cases. Just two years ago, one hall-of-fame trainer was indicted on more than 50 counts of abuse.

“Nobody is denying that there are people that will try to game the system in any competition,” Inman says. “But the best way to make it so they can’t game the competition is through objective testing.”

So for the first time, the Celebration is using blood tests to screen for pain-killers that might be used to mask that a horse is hurting. Samples will be shipped to a thoroughbred lab in Lexington for analysis. X-ray inspections are new too. That’s to find other banned practices like shoeing horses so that every step is painful. One method is hiding half a golf ball between the platform shoe and the horse’s hoof.

Dr. Jerry Johnson chairs this new enforcement panel.

“We feel like now, with what we’re doing, that they’re really going to have to clean up their act because I think we can really get a handle on just about anything they can come up with,” Johnson says. “And believe me, they have some quite old-fashion recipes.”

tested along with a few other randomly selected entrants in each competition. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN The Humane Society calls the panel an 11th-hour attempt “to suggest that they are serious about reform.” Dane points out that results of the drug tests will take three weeks to get back – well after everyone’s gone home. And two years ago, the industry announced another new testing regimen that included swabbing legs for known-irritants. Few violations were found. In Shelbyville, horse owners feel like the Humane Society won’t be happy until the Celebration is shut down. Leading one of her horses to its stall, Lauren Hamilton of Cedar Grove suggests the organization should move on. “Race horses, you know, they’re falling out on the track,” she says. “Do you see these horses dying out there? That’s when I get upset.” But even among walking horse owners, there are a few voices calling for an end to the big lick. Van Barnes from Florida competes in what’s called the “flat shod” division, where there are no platform shoes or exaggerated high stepping. “They don’t have a problem getting through inspection,” she says, adding that the “big lick” should be banned. “I think for the industry to survive, you’re going to have to.” If it’s any indication, at this year’s Celebration, the number of horses competing is down at least 10 percent and so is attendance, even after ticket prices were slashed.

 

The vastly growing problem of horse obesity will be the subject of three coming SAC Consulting events with the first held just outside Glasgow on Friday 29 August. The Equine Obesity Workshops will tackle a number of key topics in this area including; diet, in particular how certain grass mixes can lead to weight gain, diseases associated with excess weight such as laminitis, and how to help horses maintain their weight naturally.

SAC Consulting equine expert, Gillian McKnight, who is organising the events, hopes that stable owners, as well as individual horse owners, will come along to the event to find out how to keep their horses as fit and healthy as possible.

She says: “There is an epidemic of equine obesity and associated diseases. Horses in the wild would live off sparse, poor grassland and historically they would gain weight in the summer and use the excess weight to get through hard winters. Now, of course their lifestyles are very different.

"Many horses now are kept on improved agricultural grassland specially grown to help cattle and sheep gain weight quickly and horses don't get enough exercise to burn off fat by searching for food, running from predators or playing as part of a herd. Also, they are well cared for in the winter, so they are often already overweight in the spring when they then get access to high quality grass which fattens them further.”

Obesity in horses is a huge concern as just like in humans it makes them more susceptible to certain diseases. In horses these include laminitis; a disease of the hooves which can hinder the horse’s ability to walk; equine metabolic syndrome, and Cushing’s disease which affects the pituitary gland.

There will be a number of experts in veterinary care speaking at the event including Professor Derek Knottenbelt, Chairman, British Horse Society Scotland, and Natalie Waran, Professor of Animal Welfare Education at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

As well as presentations on obesity-related diseases and diet, there will also be more information on what is termed ‘equine naturalisation’. This concept is about providing horses with a more natural, healthy lifestyle by allowing foraging and more natural herd behaviours for the mental and physical well being of the horses.

Some of the talks will be available to watch at home using a live stream on the internet. Those interested in this option will be given a web address and log in details once they have registered for the event.

The event is free and lunch is provided but please book in advance by calling 01463 233 266. This event has been funded by the Scottish Government as part of the Scottish Funding Council Knowledge Transfer and Exchange Programme.

 

 

A petition to allow horses on Flintshire’s public footpaths has been launched in a desperate bid to protect the animals and their riders. The online document was created by Loz Hanson, a horse rider and owner from Buckley who says that the area’s roads are simply too dangerous for them to be on and fears that it is only a matter of time before a near-miss becomes an accident. So far the petition has been signed by more than 200 people and that number is expected to grow as more people become aware of her campaign. Loz, who takes her horses out three or four times a week, said: “We have to ride on busy or dangerous roads to exercise the horses. There are loads of public footpaths in the area which would allow me and others to be safe but they either have signs saying no horse riders allowed or styles we cannot go on.” Loz told The Flintshire Chronicle that despite the roads she uses being frequented by horses regularly (there are a several large stables nearby), she has still encountered many near-misses. She added: “I also find that if there are any dangerous moments on the roads 99% of these are caused by the car drivers not understanding simple hand signals or how to drive around a horse, many seem to think it is OK to do so on blind bends and as a result we get blamed. “From the other point of view, I know there are many car drivers (including friends and family of mine) who do not feel confident driving around horses and would prefer to support having off-road option to reduce the number of horses they encounter on the road.”

The British Horse Society’s Flintshire access officer Vera Derby is backing Loz’s petition. She says that of the 33,000km of public rights of way in Wales, only 21% is accessible for horse riders. In Flintshire, the situation is even worse with just 10% of the network open to riders. Vera said: “We don’t have many bridleways to start with and quite a lot of what we do have is unusable as you need to go along a footpath to access it which we can’t do. “In Scotland, horse riders may use all public rights of way where sensible. In England, where possible and sensible horse riders are able to use cycle tracks, but in Wales, we aren’t allowed anywhere. “Flintshire County Council have been good to us, building the Pegasus Crossing at Talacre, but the new cycle path being built from Talacre to Ffynnongroyw is only for cyclists. Why can’t it be for horses too? Can’t we share? “We very much need more space for horse riders. It is becoming increasingly dangerous on the roads and I myself have been thrown off my horse after being scared by a car. Something needs to be done.”

 

 

WHY DID VICTORIAN POLICE SHOOT 4 FAITHFUL FRIENDS?

 JUST after dawn on a bone-cold morning in June, a knackery truck rumbled onto the ­property of the Victoria Police Mounted Branch in Attwood, on Melbourne’s northern outskirts. Four police horses were led, one by one, from their paddock towards the man with the gun. The first horse brought forward was Hear That Bell. Before his long police career he had come sixth in the 1994 Melbourne Cup at 16/1, far better odds than he faced on this day. The second horse to die was Gold Start, known as Goldie. A single shot through the forehead brought the 21-year-old down, ending his police service, along with the hopes of two young children whose family had agreed to let Goldie live out his days on their farm. Goldie’s body was winched into the truck as they led the third horse, Rubicon, forward. Considered the bravest horse in the Mounted Branch, “Rubi” had led his fellow steeds into violent protests by ­construction workers in ­Melbourne’s CBD in 2012. Rubi’s long-time carer at the branch, Tori Weir, had asked her superiors if Rubi, her favourite horse, could live his twilight years on her family property when he was retired from duty. It was not to be.

As Tori’s mother, June Weir, wrote in a letter she hand-delivered to the office of Victoria Police’s Chief Commissioner Ken Lay on June 6, four days after Rubi’s death: “The story of Rubi is heartbreaking and so far removed from public expectations.” Rubi was 17 years old, stood at 17 hands and served Victoria Police for 13 years. “He carried his rider into the thick of demonstrations, walked the streets of Melbourne on night patrols and led Prince Charles and Camilla down the Flemington straight as part of the Melbourne Cup,” she wrote. Rubi was a kind, gentle soul. When a terminally ill boy wanted to ride a police horse through the Make a Wish Foundation, it was Rubi who got the job. “His retirement… could have been ­provided in a country property with the best of everything laid on.” June Weir’s letter makes a further allegation. “It is my contention that… in the case of Rubi the final decision to shoot him was made out of malice towards my daughter Tori Weir, an unsworn member of the Mounted Branch for more than five years.” Minutes after Rubi was killed, the fourth horse, Mambo, a grumpy but gentle 25-year-old, was led forward and shot. On this day, June 2, the four retired police horses were destroyed in secret and with only a handful of people present.

Yet insiders who were familiar with the horses claim that only one of them – Hear That Bell, who had a brain disorder known as ­Cushing’s disease – was in need of euthanasia. This is disputed by Victoria Police, who maintain that all the horses were killed on veterinary advice and that there was no other option. The issue has divided the Mounted Branch, one of Victoria Police’s most high-profile and revered units. “This has never been done before,” says one still-serving insider who asked not to be named. “They have never shot horses just because they are old and especially not when there were homes for them to go to where they could grow old gracefully.” Tori Weir goes further, accusing Victoria Police of being careless and at times cruel to its 20 or so police horses who enjoy mini-celebrity status on Melbourne’s streets, conducting street patrols, keeping order and leading the Anzac Day, Melbourne Cup and Grand Final parades. “I want the people who did this to be held accountable,” says Weir, who left the branch in January. “I don’t want Rubi, Goldie or Mambo to have died in vain.

They killed four horses when I had already offered my home for Rubi and found homes for Goldie and Mambo.” Victoria Police initially declined to answer detailed questions put to it by this magazine, saying it would be inappropriate because an investigation into the shootings was under way in response to a complaint. But, perhaps realising the potential for public backlash, it later issued a detailed statement, saying that putting down the four horses “was a very difficult decision and was based on veterinary advice and extensive consultation, including with members of the Mounted Branch… Victoria Police is in the process of finalising an investigation into the euthanasia of the four horses [but] preliminary advice is that all horses were euthanased based on expert veterinary advice, lawfully [and] humanely.” Vic Pol’s sensitivity is understandable given that service animals have always held a special place in the heart of Australians. In February this year, the Australian War Memorial held an all-day commemoration of the sacrifice of animals in war. In some ways Weir is an unlikely whistleblower.

 She loved her job with the Mounted Branch when she joined as its Farm Support Officer in August 2008. Now 32, she grew up alongside horses. Raised on a property near ­Gisborne, 55km ­northwest of Melbourne, she had her first pony at the age of three and left school in Year 11 to join the stables of Olympic equestrian Mary Hanna. She was a part of the 2000 Sydney Olympics equestrian team doing groom duties for Hanna and later managed up to 40 horses for the Olympian. “I was over the moon when I got the job [at the Mounted Branch],” she says. “I remember being so excited to see police horses when I was a girl and to work with them was like a dream come true.” Weir’s job required her to work at the Mounted Branch’s 36ha property at Attwood, near Melbourne airport, which was home to the police horses when they were not on duty at the branch’s city stables in South Melbourne. She would feed the horses, give them medication, prepare them and transport those on duty to South Melbourne and back. She knew each horse intimately and kept close track of them, writing reports on their progress and wellbeing. But Weir’s personality was arguably ill-suited to the hierarchical discipline demanded by the police force. She was blunt and passionate and at times combative. Friends say she held the ­welfare of her horses above all else and was unafraid to speak frankly to her superiors, a trait that may have eventually counted against her.

 The first blow to her faith in the branch came in February 2010 with the death of the troop horse Toohey. Weir had arrived at Attwood early on a Monday morning to feed the horses. Soon after she noticed Toohey lying down in his yard. “He then proceeded to roll – stand up – and roll again… a very strong indicator of colic,” Weir wrote in a report into the incident on February 23. “Not a skerrick of hay was in the yard and his behaviour was consistent with that of a horse deprived of feed for a very long time.” Toohey had been placed in a sand yard over the weekend and Weir says she had issued written and verbal instructions saying that because Toohey had no grass to graze on he needed to be fed at least twice a day over the weekend. “I rang them and said Toohey is very ill and from what I can see there is no feed lying around – this better not be because the horse wasn’t fed all weekend.” Weir’s hunch was right. Distraught, she took Toohey to the equine veterinary centre in Werribee where they discovered that the horse had eaten its own manure and sand, and had to be put down. “I stayed with him as they did it [injected him] because I wanted him to have someone there who he knew,” says Weir. “I couldn’t believe what had just happened,

 I couldn’t believe that the Victoria Police Mounted Branch had just killed a horse by not feeding it.” Driving home that night in tears, she says she called the branch and told them, “You’ve got blood on your hands. You didn’t listen to me and you didn’t send anyone to feed Toohey.” Two weeks later, Weir wrote a formal report on the incident, ensuring that it would proceed up the chain of command. “I made a powerful enemy on that day,” Weir says. But her report produced results: automatic hay feeders were installed. Tensions came to a head in October 2012, on the eve of the Melbourne Cup, when she noticed her favourite horse, Rubi, had become lame. By this stage Weir had forged a relationship with Rubi that one insider describes as “so close that it was almost ridiculous”. Says Weir: “He was just the kindest soul I have ever known. When I walked into the stable block in South Melbourne I would scream out ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and all you could hear is ‘bang, bang, bang’ – it was him kicking the stable door with one leg with his head hanging over, neighing. I also loved him because he was the most reliable horse Vic Pol had. Whether it was riding into demonstrations or letting sick children ride him, he always did his job with no fuss.

 He honestly was my best friend.” But in October 2012, when she noticed that Rubi’s gait had worsened, a vet was called in. Rubi had already had three operations for lameness but this time the vet said it had gone too far. The vet’s report, written on October 23, states: “The drug medication is now ineffective in allowing the horse to comfortably perform his task as a troop horse. I therefore conclude that the horse should be retired from active police duties and found a lifestyle where he can comfortably exist.” But 10 days after this diagnosis, Weir says the branch overruled the vet’s decision and ordered that Rubi be included in the entourage to escort Prince Charles and Camilla down the straight at Flemington ahead of the Melbourne Cup. Weir was livid. “I said, ‘Please don’t do this, you don’t see what happens to him the next day after the painkillers have worn off.’ I threatened to call the RSPCA.” A news photo shows Rubi walking down the straight behind Charles and Camilla’s vehicle. The day after the race, Weir arrived early at work to check on Rubi. “There he was, lying down in the paddock because it was too sore for him to stand,” she recalls. “I gave him a kiss, a cuddle and painkillers.”

By this stage, Weir’s relationship with the branch was all but fractured. She says she was told, “Tori, you’re either on the bus or you are off it.” It was downhill from there. In April last year, after a period of leave, partly due to stress, Weir made a written claim to Victoria Police that she should have been paid at a higher rate for her work, a claim that further soured her relationship with the force. In June she was ­allocated a temporary position in the Vic­toria Police Dog Squad. But when she was told in November that she would have to return to the Mounted Branch, Weir wrote directly to the chief commissioner pleading not to be sent back. “I am physically and mentally exhausted from 4.5 years of battling inane decisions made by sworn members as I tried to protect the ­welfare of the horses,” she wrote. In January, Weir and the Victoria Police reached a redundancy agreement. Weir says that on her departure she reminded the branch that when the time came, Rubi would retire with her. Weir heard no more until May 14, when some police friends broke the news to her that the branch had decided that four horses would be destroyed. Weir was dumbstruck.

 The longstanding practice had been to try to find homes for the retired horses. Weir shows me extensive files detailing how she found homes for many retired horses while working with the branch, including the kindly written advice she gave their new owners. There was Lotta, who “needs sunscreen applied to her pink nose daily”, Flinders, who “prefers the right side of the float” and Defoe, who is “easy to catch, show, float and has an all-round good nature”. Insiders say police horses were destroyed only when injured or ill and even then they were ­usually put down by injection. “I knew those horses well,” says one. “I saw them only weeks before they were shot and they looked fine. Goldie was such a good little horse and while Mambo was a cranky old man he was lovely. And Tori was so in love with Rubi she would have given him the best of care. But the branch saw these old horses as a liability – they treated them as commodities, not animals.” Weir called the Mounted Branch and begged to be allowed to take Rubi and find homes for Goldie and Mambo. She says she was promised the request would be considered. Two days later, she was informed that the only horse that could possibly be found a new home was Rubi, but that Rubi was now listed to be destroyed because a previous attempt by her long-time rider to find a home had failed. Weir says she was told that if the branch’s ­principal vet Penelope “Poss” Thomson agreed, there would be no problem with her keeping Rubi. She says she immediately called Thomson and secured her agreement.

Thomson declined to comment when contacted, but Weir’s version of these events is detailed in a long email written to the branch on May 19. In an earlier email sent to the branch that same day, Weir said the vet had agreed she could keep Rubi. “As you can imagine, knowing my affections towards Rubi, I am overcome with joy to be able to give Rubi the retirement he so deserves. That said, I am more than happy to work around the Mounted Branch with whatever suits best in collecting the gorgeous boy.” The branch replied it was not in a position to advise what the final outcome would be. Four hours later, Weir wrote again advising of a disturbing exchange with the vet. “Poss said in a conversation, ‘What about Tori… she’d be a perfect home for Rubi’. Poss was advised, ‘Well, actually Tori didn’t exactly leave on good terms so she won’t be getting the horse.’ I would hate to think the reason I was overlooked in this matter was out of spite?” Weir waited and hoped that common sense would prevail. In the meantime she found a family willing to take Goldie, and her brother said he could take Mambo.

When a former ­colleague finally called her on June 2, it was not the good news she was expecting. The friend had been told that a knackery truck had arrived at Attwood and they were leading the horses to be shot. Weir frantically dialled the numbers of every branch contact she had, but each call went to voicemail. Then her friend phoned back. Tears flood her eyes as she recounts the call. “She said to me, ‘I am so sorry Tori’, and I said, ‘Have they done it? Have they done it?’ and she just said, ‘Yes’. My f..king heart was broken. Victoria Police had just put a bullet through my best friend’s head.” The next day, Weir’s mother June emailed the branch to say Tori was “inconsolable in her grief”. She added: “If a person punches a police horse they can be charged with assault. I’m not sure what the penalty for shooting one unnecessarily should be.” The response was: “Unfortunately the vet’s opinion was that this was the most ­suitable option for us to pursue.

We obtained further opinions to ensure there was no option available to us. The unanimous decision was that the nominated horses should be euthanased. Make no mistake, this was not an easy decision and it is a distressing period for us. I have held welfare discussions with the staff involved and will continue to look after them in the days to come. It is a sad day.” Three days later, on June 6, June Weir handed her letter to the chief commissioner’s office. “Your officers will put to you that there was no other option for these horses, however I hold copies of emails and discussion notes held over the 10 days prior to their shooting which provide retirement options for at least two of the four horses now dead,” she wrote. “What a disgusting and tragic end to a combined history for your four-legged members of more than 45 years.” Victoria Police disputes this. It says Rubi was “lame with navicular syndrome which he had suffered for a number of years and despite ongoing and extensive treatment he had constant foot pain”. Mambo was “lame with arthritis and was having trouble getting up in the paddock” while Gold Start “had become dangerous, unpredictable and was difficult to handle and ride.” All three were therefore unsuitable to be sent to new homes, it says. Victoria Police says shooting horses is an accepted form of euthanasia and that in this case “each horse was sedated for the procedure” and “treated with utmost respect.” Weir and the insiders who spoke on condition of anonymity maintain that Rubi, Goldie and Mambo were not in such poor health that they had to be shot.

One insider said Rubi was killed to punish Weir for her previous fights with the branch. “I have no doubt in my mind that they shot Rubi out of spite rather than have him go to Tori,” the insider said. Weir, who now has Rubi’s microchip number tattooed on her neck, says she has decided to tell her story because she doesn’t want Victoria Police to “get away” with it. In doing so, she knows she is placing herself at legal risk because going public is a likely breach of a confidentiality agreement she signed when she left the force. “I don’t care,” she says. “I want people to know they have done this. Come and get me.” She picks up an article in The Police Association Victoria Journal and reads out a paragraph. “Many retired [police] horses are taken to paddocks to live out their days eating grass,” she reads, her voice shaking with anger. “Special horses deserve very special treatment and a ­comfortable retirement.” Weir throws it down in disgust. “I ask how comfortable would they have been as they smelt the blood walking towards that truck,” she says, as tears well again in her eyes. “When Rubi’s time came I would have buried him with a Snickers bar and a kiss.”

 

 

A grieving family were further distressed when a horse pulling a relative’s hearse dropped dead mid-procession. Police and a fire crew were called at around 1.40pm yesterday to Hornchurch Road, Hornchurch, following reports that the animal had fallen sick. The firefighters from Hornchurch station left shortly later after realising they could not save the horse and officers called the RSPCA for assistance. The road was closed for nearly two hours while the organisers, Harold Wood Funeral Services, of Chippenham Road, Harold Hill, arranged for the horse to be taken away. Andy White, 46, from Dorset, said: “It was horrible. It was my wife’s grandad’s funeral and it upset us all.” The procession continued by car and despite the incident, Mr White described the company as “fantastic”. Ronnie, the deceased horse, was a middle-aged white carriage horse and was believed to be in good health, funeral director Carol Lawrence told the Recorder. She said: “We are extremely sad to report the sudden death of Ronnie, a 14-year-old horse in service on the funeral in our care [on Wednesday]. “There was no indication of any poor health and he was regularly seen by vets.” The director assured that there was no delay and the coffin was transferred from the horse-drawn cart and put in to a regular hearse that was part of the procession. She added: “The bereaved family are very sympathetic and we have been in touch with them.” Ronnie is receiving a private burial today in a field in the Essex countryside in the stables he lived in. Eddie Baptste, 29, of Arisdale Avenue, South Ockendon, witnessed the horse’s collapse. He said: “It’s always upsetting going to a funeral but when the horse falls dead it’s even more so.”

 

 

WELFARE OF THE DRESSAGE HORSE

 

Top dressage horses stay in the stall all day except when they’re working and are fed three times each day. Right? Wrong. According to the world’s top three dressage riders, fresh off the freestyle dressage podium at the Alltech Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Equestrian Games (WEG), offering their horses a happy lifestyle is key to success.

 “I’m always monitoring how he feels, to make sure he’s in a good mood and feeling happy,” said German rider Helen Langehanenberg, silver medalist in the WEG freestyle dressage and Grand Prix Special competitions and gold medalist in the team dressage competition, of her horse Damon Hill NRW. “When you know him, you can easily tell what mood he’s in. It’s easy to know!” Langehanenberg said she knows her horse well because she spends so much ground time with him and has developed a real connection with him, which is critical for good performance results. “He needs lots of love and attention—and carrots!” she told The Horse. The 14-year-old Westfalian gelding goes out loose in a grass field every day unless it’s rainy, which makes for slippery terrain in their area. But Damon Hill has his personal preferences about outings: grass only, Langehanenberg said.

 

 “If there’s only sand then he’s just absolutely wild!” she said with a laugh. Double gold medalist and team silver medalist Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain said it’s important to recognize the kind of wear and tear that can happen to dressage horses. She works closely with her veterinarians to be sure she’s training her mount Valegro on a physical program that respects his health and welfare and gives him some variety. “He only trains four days a week,” she said. “He’s in the water treadmill a few times a week, and otherwise he goes out hacking.” The 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding usually gets daily paddock time, except just before competitions “because of the risk of injury,” Dujardin said. But even if he’s not in a paddock, he still goes out to graze—even on competition day itself.

 

 Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen, bronze medalist in the freestyle and in the team event, said daily paddock time near other horses is a vital part of the formula for her horse Jerich Parzival N.O.P. The 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood “rides like he’s seven,” and part of that could be because of the care he receives. “It’s simple,” Cornelissen said. “I ride him in the morning, and in the afternoon he’s in the field. Every day.” Cornelissen said she’s also careful about his feeding, wanting to respect the natural equine eating rhythm as much as possible. “I feed them (Jerich Parzival and the other horses on her farm) myself,” she said. “He gets his breakfast and works, and then at 10:30 he gets food, and at 12 he gets, and at 2 he gets, and at 4 he gets, and 6 he gets … it’s pretty much all day. That keeps him happy!” Is the sorrel gelding a “happy athlete”? “Yes he is,” Cornelissen said with confidence. That rider confidence could come from knowing she’s taking care of her horses well, which can also contribute to a better horse/rider team, one leading equitation scientist said.

 

“From a sports psychology point of view, maintaining horse's welfare is paramount,” said Inga Wolframm, PhD, MSc, based in The Netherlands. “Studies in horse sports, by myself and other researchers, have shown that how riders perceive their horses, including their ability to perform and character traits, positively influences rider confidence. “We know from research into other sports as well as into equestrianism that confidence is an important moderator of performance,” she said. “And I think there can be no doubt that equine management and training methods greatly influences behavior. So if riders look after their horses and manage them appropriately, this will impact how they perceive their horses' ability to perform and, as a knock-on effect, improve rider confidence and, ultimately, rider performance.”

 

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LETTER OF THE DAY

 

APPOLS....I lost all the Letters and answers with a Computer Glitch. ....here is a late entry.....

 

 

Hi John and Linda Hope you are both well and getting lots of wet saddle pads. Honey and I have just successfully completed the Shahzada mini Marathon of 120 klm! I'm so pleased with her and myself. It was a dream come true. Who would have thought that nervous just broken in girl of a couple of years ago and the equally nervous rider on her would have managed that? We have come a long way and a lot of kudos goes to you and Linda for the training, teaching and example of good horsemanship. I'm of to do another 80klm in two weeks at the Snowy Zone Championships at Woodstock, and if successful we will then be yellow open book endurance horse and rider all accomplished in one season. Here's a pic of us on the home stretch.

Unreal Karyn. Wonderful achievement for You both. She is a Darling.!!

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