Monday, October 29, 2007

Alberta to host Canadian National Championships

You are invited… To participate in the 2008 Canadian Rocky Mountain Challenge!

Come enjoy down home Alberta hospitality in the scenic foothills of the Rocky Mountains July 30 – Aug 4, 2008! We are very excited to announce that Alberta has been selected by CaLDRA and Endurance Canada to host the 2008 Competitive Trail, Endurance and Ride N’ Tie Canadian National Championships.

This multi-day equine event will be held at the beautiful Red Deer River Ranches, near Sundre, Alberta. The ranch boasts 1,000 acres of private land that is directly connected to over 50,000 acres of grazing lease. The majority of the land is open forest/range-land. There are numerous creeks to cross and ride along. Trails consist of open terrain, heavily wooded areas, logging routes and wildlife paths in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. This area is also known for its population of wild horses. Truly a ‘wild west’ location!

In addition to the National competitions, gorgeous scenery, ample camping space, catering, and souvenirs, many other family friendly activities will be made available. Amenities such as grocery, gas, restaurants, tourist attractions, hospital, etc. are located nearby in the town of Sundre. The community is warmly opening their arms to our Nationals visitors and welcomes you!

While there will be Provincial Team competitions (you will need to nominate you and your horse to your regional riding club), there is opportunity to ride as an individual in a variety of categories:

Competitive Trail:

– Novice Division 25 mile

– Intermediate Division 40 mile

– Open Division 80 miles over 2 days. Day one is pending as an AHA 40 mile ride.

Endurance (pending AERC sanctioning):

– 25 mile

– 50 mile FEI 2* including Junior and Young Riders. Pending as AHA ride.

– 100 mile FEI 3* including Junior and Young Riders

Ride N’ Tie:

– 10 mile

– 20 mile

Special Feature Competition – a relay race still in the works though will resemble the Pony Express.

We also look forward to welcoming individuals who will be able to offer their time and expertise in volunteering for this event.

There will be Opening and Closing Ceremonies including a Dinner and Awards Banquet – guaranteed to be very memorable. We promise an entertaining and exhilarating week of celebration.

Keep your eyes open for the launch of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Challenge Website, which will keep you informed of schedule of events, attractions, accommodations, etc. closer to the date of the Nationals. In the meantime, feel free to contact Sandra Nielsen (Phone: 403-637-0245 or Email: with any questions.

Thank you and see you next summer!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

FEI CEI*** Competitions: FEI Passports and Registrations

Announcement from USEF:

All horses ridden by Senior riders at CEI 3* rides in this country must have an FEI passport next year (2008). We will not be allowed to accept National Passports for 3* events.

I am discussing with the FEI whether Young Riders will be required to ride FEI passported horses at 3* events. I will pass that information on to you.

Horses entered in 1* and 2* events do not need a passport.

Rider and Horse FEI registrations must be sent to USEF at least 3 weeks before a competition, and will not be accepted at the competition. You should make this clear in your flyers and on your websites. This includes all distances and all ages. (riders under 18 do not have to pay the 15. fee for their registration – but they must fill out the form and send it in to get a #)

Vonita Bowers
Endurance Director

Sunday, October 21, 2007

California Wildfires, Git-R-Done Endurance Ride Organizers Lose Home

Several wildfires are burning out of control in southern California, driven by Santa Anna winds with sustained wind speeds of 20-30 mph, and gusts up to 60mph.

Organizers of the October 27 Inyokern, CA Endurance ride Tammy and Charlie Robinson were forced to evacuate their home outside of Saugus as the fires overtook their property. They are currently staying at the home of their daughter Charlene Lewis of Leona Valley Riding Center.

Charlene reported on the situation:

"We have some bad news! We are canceling Git-R-Done ride due to some extremely unfortunate events, as today my parents home has burnt, Tammy and Charlie Robinson. We were barely able to get all 11 horses out, 5 dogs, 1 goat, and 2 cats. All the chickens and birds and 4 other cats did not make it. We just didn’t have enough time! As we were pulling out the driveway the trees and shop was on fire that’s adjacent to the home. Not a single fire truck in site, it was the most hopeless feeling! As most of you know this was a family built home and a lot of heart and soul went into it. Many of you have been there at the X-mas party. This is a huge loss and extremely sad for my family. We will not be putting on the Git-R-Done ride so please contact your friends and spread the word. My family is here at my ranch now. If you really have to contact me for any questions. All checks will be cancelled if they are not burnt already."

California fire officials caution residents that the winds are predicted to continue for at least another day and to have an evacuation plan in place if need be.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Endurance Expo rolls into Auburn Saturday

Auburn Journal

By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
Thursday, October 18, 2007

Auburn's Endurance Expo won't just be a big party on the street this year.

Organizers of the expo, set for Saturday at the Gold Country Fairgrounds, have implemented a few changes this year.

"We changed the format," said Bridget Powers, chairwoman of the Auburn Endurance Capital Committee. "Last year, the event was more of a celebratory street party. This year will be more like an actual expo, where you have clinics, speakers and vendors."

The free expo is open to the public and will celebrate this year's main endurance events such as the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, Tevis Cup 100-Mile One Day Ride, Auburn International Triathlon and the Cool Mountain Bike Race, as well as many top endurance athletes in the area.

More than 40 vendors featuring biking, running, horseback riding and paddling gear will set up in the Armory Building of the Gold Country Fairgrounds.

The expo will also feature a multimedia show with photos and videos of this past year's main endurance events, food booths, an endurance sports bar with beer, wine and TVs, a silent auction and a raffle.

Free color posters will be available at the expo along with a signing table featuring many local endurance champions including Tim Twietmeyer, Hal Hall, Gordon Ainsleigh, Trent Klasna, Potato Richardson, Brad Kearns, Kathie Perry and Jimmie Brown.

Experts and professionals from the fields of running, biking, riding and rafting will be on hand to answer questions and offer clinics at the expo. Endurance games for kids, a climbing wall, raffle, silent auction, music and food can also be found at the expo.

"It's a lot of fun getting to see all the new stuff involving bikes, running, riding and rafting," said Lisa Kodl, owner of Auburn Bike Works and vendor at the expo. "Looking at all the footage from past endurance events is also fun. It's chance to see things you usually aren't able to because they happen in the middle of the endurance trail."

Kodl will have a booth at the expo and will be sponsoring valet bike parking.

"Anyone who want to ride their bike to the event will have a place to park it and someone to watch over it," Kodl said.

Powers said the expo will also provide a chance for residents to find out what's available in Auburn.

"A lot of people don't realize how much there is to do in Auburn," Powers said. "If you want to find out every possible outdoor activity there is to do in the foothills, everyone will be there that day."

The Journal's Jenna Nielsen can be reached at or comment on this story at

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Miracle" Of Hydrotherapy Heals, Strengthens Horses

(Left) David Voyles and his daughter, Lindsey, with retired champion Sahara at the start of a water-resistance exercise session. (Right) Sahara and Voyles, along with Miracle Farms owners Reg and Virginia Steele.

Nestled at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in eastern Shelby County, in an area abundant with equine-oriented estates and subdivisions, is a small building that houses one of the latest innovations in restoring the health of ill and injured horses.

About eight months ago, Miracle Farms owners Reg and Virginia Steele and the facility's manager, David Voyles, installed an AquaPacer Equine Underwater Treadmill and began helping horses recover from injury, regain mobility following surgery, and increase strength and endurance with an equine version of water aerobics.

When the Steeles purchased the property just a few years ago, the 16 acres of Miracle Farms was basically raw land with only the shell of a home under construction. Now, the house is finished, the surrounding acreage is beautifully landscaped, there is a first-class outdoor arena with all the accoutrement required for hunter-jumper riding, and a 7-stall barn sits just a few paces away from the hydrotherapy center. The unit is one of only four of its type in U.S., and the closest ones to Memphis are located at the University of Kentucky and the University of Mississippi.

The unit is designed to help animals recover more quickly from orthopedic surgeries, soft tissue injuries, provide relief from back and other muscular soreness, and for general conditioning and muscle development. The treadmill operates at speeds up to 7 miles an hour, and treatment or training is achieved through a specific combination of treadmill speed, water depth, and workout time.

Using hydrotherapy results in a 50% decrease in healing time and conditioning time, according to Voyles, and often more than that. "The main thing is the speed. All that healing time and conditioning time that you don't have to tie your horse up," he says. "Give me two weeks, and I'll give you a month's worth of impact...It doesn't matter which breed or which discipline they're in, it's effective for all of them." With regard to conditioning, he says that some "...want to leave their horse here for two weeks while they're gone on vacation. We can double the effect."

Miracle Farms existed in a previous incarnation as place where city kids could come to learn about nature and get some exposure to farm animals and biology, and when the Steeles relocated they asked themselves " do we fit into the equine community, what do we do? The name was already there, and we didn't want to 'compete.' And we said 'That (name) is perfect. We can create new opportunities and miracles for horses that have had bad experiences or just really need something that can take them to the next level. So the name kind of led the hydrotherapy...We call it 'an aquatic retreat for horses.'" An it is a very nice one, but it should be noted that nearly all of the 'clients' are referred by veterinarians or professional trainers.

That restorative mission seems perfectly suited to both the Steeles and Voyles. The Steeles are engaged in the medical industry, Voyles received extensive medical training in the military, and all three share a genuine love for horses. In fact, they met as a result of their daughters riding together at Spring Hill Stables, where he was the manager and the Steeles board some of their horses.

The stable is a real model facility, featuring a separate room where feed and medications are stored and charted, tack room, an office for David and a completely furnished apartment with full kitchen for use by vets, trainers or owners who have a horse being treated or trained at the farm. Two of the stalls double as a foaling unit, with a sliding door that separates them.

"If you're going to create an environment where you're going to recondition horses you've got to start with the basics," Reg Steele said. "It's got to be clean and well-vented, and well organized.," and Voyles keeps the building in a condition that can only be described as "pristine." In addition to the stalls, there are a half-dozen paddocks, some with run-ins, scattered around the property in close proximity to the barn. "We're set up to whatever we need to do to accomodate the horses," says David. "It's a clean, stress-free environment." The facility provides full board during treatment and training.

In a building about the size of a double garage sits the 1000-gallon tank, which is linked to an outside, sealed holding tank. The system has a non-chlorinated double filtration system and is temperature controlled "...just like a swimming pool," says Voyles. "It's in a continuous filtering cycle."

The animals are meticulously bathed and their hooves cleaned before they enter the unit, to prevent the introduction of dirt and other debris. It takes approximately 15 minutes to completely fill the tank but that's rarely done, unless treatment for a condition calls for the horse to be totally "floated." At very low water levels the unit provides mostly resistance, but as the depth increases the benefits begin to include reduced weight-bearing and impact, along with hydrostatic pressure to reduce swelling.

On this day, the lucky recipient of the poolplay is Sahara, a 16-year old retired National Champion from the hunter-jumper arena. He appeared to be completely at ease with being led into the chamber, and didn't display any nervousness during the roughly five-minute workout. The V-shaped tank has hinged doors at both ends, and the treadmill is only inches off the floor with gradual ramps leading in one end and out the other. It is situated so the animals can look out over one of the farm's paddocks through a set of wide double doors, which helps keep them calm as they get used to the swirling water and the hum of a powerful pump. The layout also permits trailers to back up right to the exit from the tank.

Virginia says the first couple of times a horse encounters the machinery, they can be a bit wary, as though they're wondering "..what in the heck are you asking me to do?" But they quickly become accustomed to the process and the real performance horses realize they have the opportunity to do what they were born to do, in spite of any injury or health condition. "The ones that really like to work, when they experience this and get into it, they love it," she says.

Anyone considering the filtration system might naturally wonder, what about those inconvenient "pool accidents" that happen from time to time, especially given the casual attitude of horse with regard to that sort of thing. Well, it takes at least two to guide a horse through the routine and one of them is the designated "pooper scooper," armed with fine mesh net mounted on a long handle.

The general conditioning regimen typically begins with 5-minute sessions the first week, and builds to 10 minutes the second, 15 the third, and by the fourth week the workouts are up to 20 minutes. Voyles says most conditioning programs last four to six weeks. Injury-related therapy can involve routines as short as couple of minutes the first few times.

As odd as it may seem, Voyles says the deeper the water gets, the more an animal tends extends its step. "You'd think, as it gets deeper, they would sort of start short-stepping, but the more drag there is, the faster they go and they tend to lengthen their stride."

Virginia says the conditioning regimen is not intended to replace trainers who would normally ride those horses, but does serve a very useful purpose in "complement(ing) the existing equine community...we don't want to compete with any existing organization...We're a small, private farm. We can give one-on-one attention to the animals, their owners and the vets, which is really our objective...We want to complement the existing equine community, which is why we went with the treadmill, because there's just not one here...There's a large horse community here that has a need for this, so we're excited about it."

She also noted that injured horses who would most benefit from water therapy would previously have been referred to out-of-state veterinarians during the treatment process. That puts them out from under the direct supervision of the "family doctor" who knows them best. Having hydrotherapy available locally lets both owners and vets keep a constant eye in the progress being made. "It really gives a contiuum of care here in Memphis that's been unavailable in the past," says Virginia. "It allows the horse's regular veterinarian to see what is being accomplished, rather than relying on the judgement of someone else, and adjusting the program as needed in the best interest of the animal."

That unbroken stream can mean a lot to an owner in terms of fewer medical fees and reduced transportation cost and effort.

Animals undergoing therapy or conditioning can actually be hooked up to certain monitoring eequipment while they are in the tank and Virginia noted that the arena, just a few feet away, provides a place for both vets and trainers to do some real-world testing of the results that have been achieved.

Since installing the unit, Miracle Farms has invited a number of regional vets to see a demonstration the system and discuss with them the possibilities for its use in the recuperative process.

And the system is not just for horses. While they haven't had occasion to use it with canines (and the company makes units designed for them), Virginia said the hydrotherapy unit would work just as well with dogs and other large animals and they would be happy to discuss the possibilities with owners or vets for treating illnesses like hip displasia. "We've got the biggest one, said Voyles, "so you can pretty much encompass anything."

Virginia jokes that she and some friends have talked about using the device for an exercise class, and David says that he has actually "tested the waters." "I've been in it, and it's work," he said. It's hard to imagine that anyone involved in sports or fitness wouldn't at least consider giving it a try.

Currently, Miracle Farms is only offering services centered around the hydrotherapy unit and some other rehabilitative equipment purchased from the same manufacturer. "We don't do any boarding, or training. At this point it's totally about being a therapeutic center for horses," says Virginia. "But we also have some other equipment...for icing injuries and compressing for fluid accumulation...The equipment is getting much more advanced, and we hope to build off the hydrotherapy and the other services that are therpeutic in nature." Voyles echoes those sentiments by noting that the focus helps keep things personal, which results in better care for the horses they do take in.

Virginia and David both stress that horses with injuries or surgery-related rehabilitative needs should be referred by a veterinarian, but that conditioning and strengthening cases are accepted as long as the animal's trainer is involved. "We're really not open to owners saying "I want to come out and have my horse swim," says Virginia. "We don't think that's in the best interest of the

owner or the trainer or the horse. It really needs to be directed by a professional. We know what we're doing, but we want them to say what their goal for the horse is, and each discipline and each trainer, and each rider has a different need."

She does note one case where they took on a horse without an official "referral," but the horse's regular veterinarian was heavily involved. The animal had a problem with overheating along with some serious gastric distress. "They just wanted to change his environment and get him in the water and cool him down every day. It wasn't really about an injury and it wasn't about conditioning." The owner found Miracle Farms through a friend, but the vet was soon part of the process and agreed the treatment might provide a needed alternative. "...and he improved," says Virginia. "He stayed here a month and we swam him and kept the fans on was during that heat wave and he couldn't sweat, so we just cooled him down with the water and controlled his exercise."

Toward the end of his session Sahara gets some encouragement to keep "working harder." As the treadmill slows to a halt and the last of the water drains away, he gratefully accepts a few horsey treats and head rubs as reward for his effort before being led back to the barn by David's daughter, Lindsey. He's sporting a bit of perspiration on his brow and there's that trace of muscle quiver that many athletes exhibit following a good workout, and he seems a lot more energized than when he first walked up the low ramp.

For more information on hydrotherapy for horses, you can contact Miracle Farms at 901-753-0747 or visit their web site at For more information on the Ferno AquaPacer, visit their site at

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

International News: FEI Ride Calendar for USA 2008

Tentative FEI ride calendar for USA 2008:

Mar. 8-9 - CEIY 3*, 2* - Morriston, FL - 'FITS' - Jan Stevens

Apr. 19 - CEI 3*, 2* - Inyokern, CA - Git-R-Done II - Tammy Robinson

May 25 - CEI 3*, 2* - Oreana, ID - Owyhee 100 - Steph Teeter

Jun. 7-8 - CEIY 3*, 2* - Ashland, MT - Fort Howes - Jan Stevens

Aug. 1 CEIY 3* - Parker, CO - North American Young Rider Endurance Championship - Jan Stevens

Sep. l6 CEIY 3*, 2* - Las Cruces, NM - Desert Classic - David Kaden

Oct. 18 CEI 3*, 2* - Asheville, NC - World Endurance Festival - Emmett Ross

Nov. 8 CEI 2* - Lexington, KY - 2008 WEG2010 Pre-Breeze - Arthur W. Priez, Jr.

South Dakota Endurance Riding Clinic

November 17, South Dakota State University Campus

Contact info:
Lisa Simpson
PH: 605.874.2293

Heather Dant-Benson
PH: 605.552.6782

Clinic Details Here (pdf file)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Del Dios Highlands Open Space Preserve

Below you will find info on the opening of the new Del Dios Highlands Open Space Preserve. This 350 acre preserve is the land that my late husband, Jerry Gradisher and the Escondido Creek Conservancy brokered to ensure it would never be developed. The land is a high ridge between Elfin Forest and Del Dios/Lake Hodges. It abuts the 750 acre Elfin Forest Recreation Reserve to the west and Lake Hodges to the east. This new link has trails that connect Elfin Forest to the Coast to Crest Trail (which travels from Del Mar to Julian). These are excellent horse trail with lots of climbing and magnificent views.

Here is the invite with a picture(PDF)

Needless to say, the dedication of this land as permanent open space is a dream come true. Sometimes good does win. Thank you Jerry! All your hard work has paid off, I know you will be with us.

Nancy Reed
Lazy J Ranch
Elfin Forest
PS If anyone is interested in doing a training ride, please contact me.

County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price and the Department of Parks and
Recreation cordially invite you to celebrate the ribbon cutting and grand
opening ceremony of Del Dios Highlands County Preserve (9860 Del Dios Hwy)
on Thursday, October 18 at 11:30 a.m.

>From the I-15
Exit Via Rancho Parkway
Go west on Via Rancho Parkway for 4 miles to Del Dios Highway
Go left on Del Dios Highway a short distance
The preserve entrance is on the right (look for signs)

>From the I-5
Exit Loma Santa Fe Drive.
Go east on Loma Santa Fe Dr. for 11 miles to Escondido
At Del Dios Highway and Date Lane make a left into the preserve staging area.
For more information, visit, or contact:
Mina Nguyen
Public Affairs Officer
County of San Diego, Department of Parks and Recreation
9150 Chesapeake Drive, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92123
Phone: 858-966-1331
Cell: 619-895-0524

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Training the Core

I admit it: last year I mocked Brookstone's OSIM iGallop and Panasonic's JOBA, both horse-riding fitness machines. I even tested one out at CES last year and just felt completely ridiculous sitting on a saddle-like seat with my feet in stirups.

Needless to say, I'm putting my foot in my mouth. Panasonic released a study conducted by researcher Neil Wolkodoff, PhD, which involved 11 participants ages 35 to 60. Each participant rode Panasonic's third-generation horse-riding fitness machine, the Panasonic Core Trainer EU6441A, for 15 minutes a day, five days a week, for two months. Here's what he found: "The Core Trainer performed beyond my expectations. Not only were the changes in core strength and flexibility statistically significant, but VO2 [endurance] levels also increased, while participants experienced a positive change in body composition. Core Trainer study participants showed results with 15 minutes of daily use that some more aggressive products don't show in the regularly recommended 30 minutes a day." See above for percentages of the results.

Complete Story

Monday, October 01, 2007

USEF Rider Ranking List. October 1 update

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) instituted an Endurance Rider Ranking List beginning this year, 2007. Nominated riders earn points according to placements at FEI 100 mile rides, and a few select non-FEI 100 mile rides (e.g. Tevis). Once a rider nominates with USEF to be ranked, all of their ranked ride points will be recorded. This list will be revolving, with standings being updated over a two year period for every nominated rider on the list. The rider ranking will be used as a determining factor in choosing riders to represent the USA at International events.

Rider rankings are based upon the two highest point standing of nominated riders (any horse). The following list represents the list effective October 1, 2007.

1. John Crandall 500
2. Kathy Brunjes 480
3. Valerie Kanavy 480
4. Meg Sleeper 480
5. Steve Rojek 450
6. Ann Hall 370
7. Heather Reynolds 350
8. Joyce Sousa 350
9. Jeremy Reunolds 300
10. Jan Worthington 260
11. Cheryl Dell 230
12. Danielle McGunigal 230
13. Jeremy Olson 220
14. Christoph Schork 220
15. Darolyn Butler 200
16. Hal Hall 195
17. Fred Emigh 190
18. Kirsten Kimbler 180
19. Lynn Kenelly 180
20. Suzanne Hayes 160
21. Heather Stevens 160
22. Jennifer Stevens 160
23. Tammy Robinson 125
24. Sandra Conner 120
25. Charisse Glen 120