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Amish Horsemanship Clinic Bridges Gap
Between Plain People and Rescues
by Crystal Piaskowski - April 2015

Red coils threw heat from the ceiling as a sea of bodies wrapped in black broadcloth listened attentively to the speaker at the front of the room. A life-sized horse statue stood to the speaker’s right, his large metal body unruffled by the room’s chilly, garage-like interior or by the incessant, incomprehensible chant of the auctioneer in the adjoining space. Wide-brimmed straw hats sat atop the heads of the seated men, while their miniature, beardless sons fidgeted next to them and avoided the stares of their modest mothers. An assortment of Amish families turned out for the first “Plain Community Horse Maintenance and Care Clinic,” sponsored by the Omega Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, to further their understanding about keeping their horses sound, healthy, and well maintained.

On the evening of February 13, 2015, the PA Auction Center in Quarryville was bustling. As the clock drew nearer to the 6 pm clinic start time, interested parties ambled down the cement ramp to the neighboring room where fifty folding chairs were waiting in front of a blank projector screen. A side table held pamphlets, stuffed ponies to be given to children under ten years old, a scrapbook of rehabilitated rescue horses, large donated horse blankets and halters, and gift buckets full of fly spray, shampoo, sweat scrapers, brushes, and feed. Kelly Smith, director of the Omega Horse Rescue in Airville, PA, passed out raffle tickets for the gift buckets and encouraged folks to take the blankets for their horses. One man immediately took a blanket outside to his buggy horse.

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Irish Olympian Kevin Babington’s New Venture
Explores What Horses Want
by Suzanne Bush - April 2015

Evolution may be tough for some folks to swallow, but for people like Kevin Babington of Blue Bell, PA, evolution is the very first ingredient in a feeding plan for performance horses. Babington, the incredibly successful trainer, world class competitor in Show Jumping, Olympian, world champion gold medalist, spotter of exceptional horses and keen observer of equine lifestyle issues, has embarked on another extension of his successful business model. That model seems to be predicated on the belief that horses did a pretty good job of evolving before humans entered the picture. And Babington Mills is his answer to the question: what do horses want?

Robert Fowler spent many years in Europe working with top equestrians, ensuring that the horses competing on a global stage were fueled with the kind of diet that Nature very thoughtfully developed. Today he’s working with Babington to set up manufacturing and marketing of horse feeds that are designed with equine history in mind. “The whole premise of the way I like to feed horses is to go back and think about how they were evolved to feed. Not high starch, high sugar,” he says. “The horse is a trickle feeder rather than a conveyor belt like we are.” He says that horses need to spend about 18 hours a day on forage, whereas humans—okay, maybe we don’t just shovel food into our mouths, but sometimes it seems like that, right?—consume calories on random schedules whether the engine we’re fueling needs the calories or not.

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Upstart is a Prime Derby Contender for Violette
by Terry Conway - April 2015

When you've just won a $400,000 Derby prep race and you're headed to the winner's circle, it's never good to see a flashing inquiry sign. Trainer Rick Violette, Jr. was getting ready to celebrate after watching his talented three-old Upstart roll to a 2 3/4 length victory in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 21.

After a lengthy review, the 4-5 favorite Upstart was disqualified and placed second behind the stakes debuting Todd Pletcher trainee Itsaknockout.  Violette and Upstart's owner Ralph Evans quickly departed the winner’s circle.

"Bad call," said a clearly upset Violette after the race. "They (stewards) have to understand that when the horse gets hit behind the girth (by a tiring and drifting-out Frosted), the only place the horse can go is to the right. It's disappointing. The horse ran great, we just don't get credit for it."

With Jose Ortiz in the irons, the New York-bred Upstart closed steadily in the 1 1/16-mile Derby prep to take control from 7-2 second choice Frosted in the final sixteenth. But Upstart bore out under steady left-handed urging from Ortiz against Starlight Racing's Itsaknockout in the deep stretch. Upstart raced wide throughout and the Trakus measurement system showed that he covered 20 feet more than Itsaknockout and 54 feet more than third place finisher Framment.

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Proud Chestnut is PA’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred
April 2015

Pennsylvania Horse World Expo is one of the biggest and best in the country, and with Penn National and Parx racecourses nearby it is surrounded by Thoroughbred people.

It should be no surprise then that despite the light crowds for earlier sessions, it was standing room only in the 2,200-seat Equine Arena for Pennsylvania’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred Contest on March 7.

The four contestants had been carefully selected from among 27 applicants for their ability to perform in front of a crowd and inspire an audience to favor Thoroughbreds for riding.

Hanging Tree (show name Hakuna Makata) and his rider Olivia Rickards showed just how well it can turn out when the right four-year-old off the track is matched with the right twelve year old girl. Their absolutely rhythmic, relaxed, and forward ride over the course of jumps showed why they made it to the USEF Zone Finals and beat so many warmbloods over and over again in their eight years showing together. They made it all look easy and their trust in each other was moving to watch. 

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Look what’s coming up in the Pennsylvania Equestrian June 2015
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