News Notes for November 24, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010
Posted by Lynndee Kemmet for Horsesdaily.com

This week’s News Notes sponsor Back on Track wishes all a Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

Dressage ponies are the focus of a recent Florida news article. And from Britain comes an uplifting story of one dressage rider who has made her way back into the saddle after a serious injury. The local news in Virginia writes about a Century Club rider. And in Wisconsin, an miniature horse named Tinker joins the ranks of the Salvation Army for the holiday season.
All is quiet on the show front this weekend as Americans turn their attention to eating lots of food and enjoying the company of family and friends. Warm wishes to all on this Thanksgiving weekend.

Dressage ponies were the focus of an article this past week in Florida’s Palm Beach Post newspaper. The feature article centered on the growing sport pony business of South Florida-based trainer Audrey Maschue of Xanadu Dressage in Loxahatchee. The sport pony business is big in Europe – very big. But Americans, with their penchant for large-sized dressage horses, have been slow to pick up on the many benefits of sport ponies for dressage.

That seems to be changing as a growing number of trainers seek to direct their smaller riders to smaller horses. As Audrey points out in the article, ponies have all the talent of larger Warmbloods but are more easily controlled by smaller riders. "Your body acts as a lever on top for the horse," she said. "On a pony, you can exert more control with less effort. You don't want anyone to know you're doing anything up there. The more you can swing the lever idea in your favor, the better off you'll be."

You can read more about Audrey and the benefits of sport ponies at http://www.palmbeachpost.com/accent/pets/loxahatchee-dressage-trainer-uses-warmblood-ponies-1018561.html?cxtype=ynews_rss.

This past year has seen several dressage riders suffer serious injuries, but Britain’s The Telegraph recently ran an uplifting article about dressage rider Thea Maxfield’s dramatic recovery. A year ago, Thea was thrown from her mare Fiorella and she landed on her head and neck. She managed to stand up and walk out of the ring before fainting, after which, she was rushed to the hospital. As it turned out, Thea had shattered her C2 and C3 vertebrae in her neck. She spent three months in a neck brace and it was unclear if she would ever ride again.

Then someone told her about a physiotherapist named Don Gatherer who had worked with many top athletes after serious injuries. Using computer sensors to guide her therapy and recovery, Don helped Thea quickly progressed in regaining the body strength she would need to ride. She was back in the saddle within seven months.

Says Thea in the article: “It feels like a miracle. Now I can concentrate on riding rather than recovering. I feel confident and liberated, but I also feel I owe a lot to everyone who helped me. It has changed my life and made me more determined than ever. I don’t want to be known as the girl who fell off and broke her neck. I want to be the top dressage rider who represents her country.”
You can read more about her story at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/equestrianism/8098933/Back-in-the-saddle-after-a-broken-neck.html.

Meet the newest member of the Dressage Foundation’s Century Club – Barbara Ellis. Reaching this milestone earned Barbara recognition in her hometown news in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area. To qualify for the Century Club the rider and horse must have a combined age of 100 or more and compete in dressage. Barbara is 73 and her horse, a Thoroughbred-cross named Probable Cause, is 28. Barbara jokes that she and “Ab” have much in common with age. Each suffers from a bit of arthritis but she even had a hip replaced five years ago.

Barbara has ridden since childhood and started with hunter/jumpers. She and her husband own Broadview Farm in Virginia. She still rides several days a week and also does aerobics classes as well as the daily barn chores of farm ownership. You can read more about her at http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2010/112010/11042010/584733?rss=local.

With the coming of Thanksgiving, the Christmas season has officially begun and that means the Salvation Army will be out in full force ringing bells for donations to help worthy causes. A local Salvation Army branch in Wisconsin is getting a bit of extra help this year from a special volunteer named Tinker. Tinker is an 11-year-old miniature horse and he’s out helping bring in donations with his own special charm. He’s even got a Santa hat and outfit. You can see the photos at http://www.wisn.com/r-slideshow/25907717/detail.html.