News Notes for December 22, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010
Posted by Lynndee Kemmet

This week’s News Notes is brought to you by Back on Track. This Holiday Season give the gift of a pain-free life.

Young rider Meagan Davis makes a good showing at the Young Riders World Cup and gains a multi-page feature in her hometown press. Ravel is honored again this year by the USDF. Meanwhile, sad news comes from Canada on the loss of a beloved dressage rider and judge. Programs that use horses to help heal humans made the news across the U.S this week. And New Zealand media reports on an international research project that discovers many similarities between horses and humans.
First off, welcome to the first day of winter. The good news is that the days are now getting longer. And next, a very Happy Holiday season to all. Perhaps it’s no surprise that this weekend all is quiet on the show front. The big show news from the past week was the good placing of American Meagan Davis in the 2010 FEI Young Riders World Cup Finals. Meagan and the 17-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Bentley became the first American pair to make it to the Kur to Music Finals at the prestigious invitational event. The finals were held during the World Cup Qualifer in Frankfurt, Germany. The American duo scored 63.600 percent and finished seventh in the freestyle A-Finals. Fourteen international Young Riders participated in this event.

Meagan’s success in Germany earned her a huge feature in her local newspaper. The Kingston Daily Freeman ran an article that covered her entire experience at the Young Riders World Cup Final. It’s a great read and you can check it out at http://dailyfreeman.com/articles/2010/12/20/sports/doc4d0e814102945328993385.txt?viewmode=fullstory.

And also earning a congratulations in this week’s news is the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Ravel. The USDF announced this week that Ravel, owned by Akiko Yamazaki of Woodside, California, and ridden by Steffen Peters of San Diego, California, was named the 2010 Adequan/USDF Grand Prix Horse of the Year for the second year in a row. Ravel earned the honor for his median score of 78.542 percent in competition this past year.

Out of Equine Canada this week came news of the death of Jacqueline (Jacqui) Oldham from cancer. A dressage coach, trainer and official, Jacqui was born in 1938 in Bellevue, AB. She started riding as a young girl in Edmonton and was well on the road toward her dressage career by the age of 14. Jacqui became a talented grand prix rider and sought-after dressage coach. She became a judge in 1976 and in 1993 she received her Equine Canada Senior Dressage Judge status. She received her United States Equestrian Federation Senior status in 1994. It’s a great loss and Jacqui will be missed.

It may be winter in the northern regions, but a number of locales are planning indoor winter show seasons. The Southern Pines Pilot newspaper in North Carolina put out the word last week on the Antares Winter Show season. The first show of the series, held at Antares Dressage in Pinehurst, was December 5. That was just after the new dressage tests went into effect on December 1, giving riders an early chance to try them out. The Pilot reports that winter shows are also scheduled for January 8 and February 5.

Ocala, Florida’s newest permanent resident is Natalie Lamping. She reported this week that she took that step that will keep her in town for good – buying a house. Now she’s busy unpacking.

California’s San Diego Union-Tribune reported this week on the healing power of horses when it ran a feature article on Shalom, a rescued horse now used in equestrian therapy, or hippotherapy, the use horse movement to help humans.
Shalom is a white Arabian at Dream Rider Equestrian Therapy, a rehabilitation center that focuses on the use of horses and music to help cancer survivors. The program develops exercises designed to fit each cancer survivor’s rehabilitation needs. The first step is putting the person on Shalom and having the two sit there and align their breathing patterns.

Shalom was rescued and brought to the center by Catherine Hand, who believes that the horse can help give cancer patients peace and healing power as they struggle to survive the physical toll of chemotherapy and radiation, as well as the emotional toll of cancer treatment. Hand was herself diagnosed with final stage breast cancer in 2007 but credits horses with keeping her alive, even after doctors gave her one month to live. You can read more about this uplifting story at http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/dec/20/equestrian-center-aids-cancer-victims/.

And on the same topic of the healing powers of horses, WEAU news in Eau Claire, Wisconsin reported this past week on a one of the many horse therapy programs across the U.S. targeted at war veterans. The one is Wisconsin is called “Operation We Care” and it is based at the Trinity Equestrian Center.

The feature article focused on three veterans and the help they have received. And it’s not just the wounded who need therapy. The veterans point out that many military personnel returning from war face emotional and psychological challenges when trying to reintegrate into a civilian lifestyle. And, it doesn’t help that economic statistics show veterans have higher unemployment rates than the national average. You can read more about the program at http://www.weau.com/home/headlines/New_program_offers_veterans_healing_through_horses_112128699.html.

This news came out this week from the corporate world. Dressage rider Lauren Sprieser, who worked her way up from the young rider ranks, has gained a new sponsor – HAYGAIN Hay Steamers. Lauren started rider dressage as a child and moved on to earn a number of awards and medals in young rider competition, including gold medals in the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships.  HAYGAIN is a new product designed to remove dust and destroy spores, mites and other organisms in hay that can create respiratory problems and that reduce the nutritional value of hay. It does this through a steaming system that heats hay to temperatures over 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

And finally, from the news media in New Zealand comes a news note that an international team of researchers has decoded the genome of the domestic horse, Equus caballus, and what they found is that the genome structure of the horse has remarkable similarities to humans. The research was published in the journal Science and more information can be found at the leading center for the research project – the Broad Institute, a component of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

Researchers say one of the great benefits of the work is that it will help map disease genes in horses and it will also help address human diseases. "Horses and humans suffer from similar illnesses, so identifying the genetic culprits in horses promises to deepen our knowledge of disease in both organisms," said senior author Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, scientific director of vertebrate genome biology at the Broad Institute.