Category Archives: Breeds

Esparteiro Interagro’s Watchful Eye Graces Cover of Revista Horse

Cover of Revista Horse Brazil, June 2020. Photo courtesy of Interagro Lusitanos.

Itapira, Sao Paulo, Brazil (July 10, 2020) – During a trying time in world history, the reflective eye of an Interagro Lusitano was chosen to grace the cover of one of Brazil’s largest equestrian magazines: Revista Horse. Esparteiro Interagro, an elegant mahogany bay stallion, was photographed by Tupa as a young horse, and his pensive, intelligent expression accurately reflects the breed standard of the Interagro Lusitano sport horse.

Esparteiro, who has since been exported to the United States to pursue a dressage career, exudes the conformation, beauty, and noble air of his sire, Perdigueiro (MAC). The famous gray stallion (Hábil (MV) x Fidalga (MAC)) was also a cover star for Revista Horse in August of 2017, and is one of Interagro’s most influential sires. His offspring, including Esparteiro, excel in many disciplines including dressage, jumping, working equitation, driving, and conformation/in hand classes.

With travel between Brazil and the United States still mired in coronavirus concerns, Interagro’s US agents have been observing pairs of horses via WhatsApp video to select ideal FEI and adult amateur prospects before arranging for shipping to South Florida. With horses currently on 4 continents, Interagro is no stranger to selling horses virtually, even before the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic. A focus on integrity, quality, and trust between breeder, agent, and buyer has yielded much success in “sight unseen” sales via video, both in national and international auctions as well as one-on-one transactions.

For more information on Interagro Lusitanos, Interagro’s horses for sale, or the Lusitano bloodlines, visit Interagro’s website at www.lusitano-interagro.com.

Media contact:
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
Holly Johnson
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit Honored as Top Three Quarter Horse Show by AQHA

Canada’s Dr. Carole Joubert Gaboury and My Precious Gab competing in 2019. Photo: Cody Parmenter.

Tampa, Fla. – July 1, 2020 – The management team behind the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit is thrilled to announce that the record-breaking 2019 event has been awarded the coveted distinction as one of the top-three Quarter Horse shows in the nation, as ranked by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). Out of countless shows from across the world, the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit, the highest non-ranking cattle event, ranked third behind only the All American Quarter Horse Congress and the Arizona Sun Country Circuit, high-quality company for an event that has consistently made the top ten leaderboard for years under the direction and show management services of An Equine Production.

“We are so pleased to once again have these shows recognized as some of the best in the country by the AQHA. It truly takes a village to accomplish such a designation, and we have to thank our exhibitors, staff and supporters for all of their hard work and dedication. We are looking forward to an even greater event in 2020 and can’t wait to see everyone back in the show ring,” commented Kathy Avolt of An Equine Production.

Expanding even further in 2020, the event will include a whole host of new classes such as AQHA Ranch Trail, L2/L3 Amateur, Select and 14-18 Showmanship and Horsemanship. In addition, the 2020 Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit will feature a series of amazing awards and parties, including a New Year’s Eve extravaganza. Save the date for Dec. 27-31, 2020, and then check flgoldcoastcircuit.com for schedules and forms when they become available in August.

For additional information on the Florida Gold Coast Quarter Horse Circuit, please visit flgoldcoastcircuit.com.

Remember Me Rose Named a Dam of Distinction

The 16-year-old mare Remember Me Rose is the newest AQHA Dam of Distinction.

The award recognizes the accomplishments of racing broodmares. To qualify for the award, a mare must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Dams that produced two or more individual AQHA racing champions
  • Dams that produced at least three individual Grade 1 stakes winners
  • Dams that produced at least two foals ranked in the top 10 money earners of any particular year, as of December 31 of that year, and two G1 stakes winners
  • Dams that produced at least three foals that were in the top 10 money earners of any particular year, as of December 31 of that year.
  • When the award was created, a grandfather clause also allowed mares that had produced at least three individual stakes winners prior to 1983, and those wins were the equivalent of a G1-quality race, to be accepted.

Remember Me Rose, who is owned by champion breeder Dr. Steve Burns, earned the award by producing three individual Grade 1 stakes winners.

The mare was bred by Dr. Max and Linda Alumbaugh’s MLA International, was foaled in 2004 and was purchased as a yearling and raced by Azoom LP. She began her career in Mexico, but quickly came to the United States and finished second in the Rainbow Futurity (G1) and fifth in the All American Futurity (G1). She then won the AQHA Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) and the Southwest Juvenile Championship, which was then ungraded, and capped the year with a win in the Sunland Winter Futurity (G2). The following year, she won the Ruidoso Derby (G1) and was second in both the Texas Classic Derby (G1) and Championship at Sunland Park (G1).

She retired in 2008 with nine wins from 18 starts and earnings of $820,895.

As a broodmare, she has to date produced 28 foals, of which 19 are starters and 15 are winners. They have earned more than $2.3 million.

Her three Grade 1 winners include Powerful Favorite, Runforyourlife, and most recently Cyber Monday, who won the Ruidoso Futurity (G1) on June 7. All three horses are sired by Favorite Cartel.

Remember Me Rose is sired by Corona Cartel and is out of the Zevi (TB) mare Im Moonlighting.

American Quarter Horse Association
1600 Quarter Horse Drive
Amarillo, TX 79104

Meet Dani the Wonder Horse, Wellington’s Spotted Sporthorse

Photo by ES Equine Photography.

Wellington, FL (June 25, 2020) – Seeing spots is a matter of course for Laura Swanstrom Reece, especially when she’s in the saddle. Her 7-year-old mare, Danash’s Northern Tempest (Danash K x Chief’s Bold Angel), is one of the few competitive warmblood cross hunter jumpers on Wellington’s horse show scene, and the Friesian Appaloosa’s brilliant dark patches and snowy white with black points coat make quite the impression against the sea of solid, conservative colors typically seen in the hunter ring. But despite standing out in the hunter crowd and pulling her fair share of ribbons, the speckled mare’s true charm is found in a willing, sweet personality that is as beautiful and engaging as her unique coat.

Dani, as she’s known around the barn, spent the 2019-2020 Holiday Series and WEF 2020 showing in the rusty stirrup hunter division with Reece, and the green hunters with trainer Ashley Glica of ATG Equestrian. Her eager to please attitude and intelligence has made her a quick study in most endeavors, from finding the perfect rhythm over a hunter course and dancing around the dressage arena, to trail and pony rides, and even swimming in the farm’s lake.

“She is an incredible animal and really smart,” said Reece. “She’s so willing and so trainable, and that is what makes riding her a pleasure. She’s a unique combination of her dam’s conformation and her sire’s size and movement, and while her coat color makes her particularly unique, she has the athletic edge to allow us to pursue realistic show goals, even on the highly competitive Wellington circuit.”

Dani’s unique coat color, inherited from her Appaloosa dam, may appear to be a white base coat with brown/black spots, but the dark patches are actually a genetic absence of white, revealing brown underneath. All Appaloosa patterns are a variation of white, with different allele combinations resulting in more or less white showing on the horse. Dani’s leopard coloring, which resembles its namesake big cat, displays mottled brown and white over her face, chest, and lower neck, with the iconic black patches becoming clear and distinguished over her withers, barrel, and haunches, before darkening to a mostly black tail and completely black stockings on her legs.

With such avant garde style and standout coat color, Dani’s alluring look has recently attracted the attention of some of the world’s top equestrian brands. From photo shoots to shows to scheduled appearances, Dani and Reece will have a bustling 2020, and are growing their exceptionally engaged Instagram following as more and more fans join the journey of Dani the Wonder Horse.

Follow Dani on Instagram (@danithewonderhorse) to keep up to date on all her shows and events, and check back on her website www.DaniTheWonderHorse.com as it nears completion in the next month.

Media contact:
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses – Still Making Visits

Photo — Scout at Brookdale Chambel Pinecastle, an assisted living facility in Ocala, Florida.

Therapy horse Scout usually visits hospital patients and residents of assisted living programs from room to room. When those facilities close to visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic, what is a 100-pound horse to do?

He brings his 2000-pound Percheron friend Tiny Prince Charming to visit waiting residents through the windows while human volunteers hold up signs with messages of love. Scout could not go inside and residents could not come outside, but they still touched each other’s hearts. Scout and Tiny Prince Charming put their noses on the windows when patients put their hands on the glass.

Scout is a member of Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses. For the last 22 years their teams of tiny horses have been bringing love to over 25,000 adults and children each year inside hospitals, hospice programs, assisted living programs, and with families, veterans, and first responders who have experienced traumatic events.

The therapy horses are also still working in children’s hospitals by using prerecorded programs combined with live video from their farm.

Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses
www.Horse-Therapy.org
www.facebook.com/TherapyHorses
www.instagram.com/gentlecarousel

Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses – Virtual Visits

“There is a pony on the phone for you.”

Many young hospital patients develop a special friendship with a favorite therapy horse over the months of their medical treatment. When the therapy horses can’t physically be with a patient (like after a bone marrow transplant or if they go home between treatments), the horses have made FaceTime calls to check on their young friends.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses is using a home studio to stay in contact with their friends in hospital care across the country.  “There is a pony on the phone for you.”

The horses make individual calls and plans are also underway to have a combination of pre-recorded story times and live feed from the therapy horses to play in rooms for entire children’s hospitals. This would use hospital studios that the horses have already been visiting in person for many years.

Gentle Carousel is also recording reading programs because the horses cannot do their regular library and school visits.

Virtual Fundraiser

Gentle Carousel’s two main fundraisers of 2020 to support the charity have been postponed/cancelled due to the current health situation, including the Walk Like a Pharoah Walkathon and Festival.

Instead of a large, public walkathon, the charity will have a “mini walkathon” fundraiser that can be watched safely from home. Three special horses will make the walk using the track where Triple Crown winner American Pharoah trained at the McKathan Brothers Training Center in Citra, Florida.

Tiny therapy horse Scout, a 2000-pound Percheron named Prince Charming, and The Sundance Kid, a recently adopted mustang who had been living in the wild on public range lands in Nevada, will be filmed while they walk together. The Sundance Kid had been passed over three times for adoption at three separate adoption events, making him a “three strikes” “unadoptable” mustang until he found his forever home.

The volunteers handling the horses will wear masks and keep “one Percheron distance” apart from each other during the walk.

Friends can sponsor Scout, Prince Charming, and The Sundance Kid to support Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses at: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/GentleCarousel.

The “mini walkathon” can be watched on April 27th starting at 7pm on Gentle Carousel’s Facebook page.

Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses is one of the largest equine therapy programs in the world. Teams of tiny horses bring love to over 25,000 adults and children each year inside hospitals, hospice programs, assisted living programs, and with families, veterans, and first responders who have experienced traumatic events.  A multiple award winning 501(c)(3), the charity is celebrating over 20 years of service.

Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses
www.Horse-Therapy.org
www.facebook.com/TherapyHorses
www.instagram.com/gentlecarousel

The Horse Capital Parade

For our friends in Florida, an amazing experience with horses is coming soon: the Horse Capital Parade!

Where: Downtown Square Ocala, Florida, the surrounding streets and at the Downtown Market.
March 7, 2020 at 1:00pm – 6:00pm

A vendor village will open at 1pm on the Downtown Square with a beer and wine garden, great vendors, horse breed meet-and-greets, and at 4:30pm, an incredible horse breed parade, the speedy Historic Stagecoach, and the grand finale with the Budweiser Clydesdales. Watch them harness the Clydesdales at 2pm at the Downtown Market. There are also wonderful restaurants with outdoor dining where you can watch the parade.

Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses
www.Horse-Therapy.org
www.facebook.com/TherapyHorses

Fellini Interagro Graces Fall Cover of Equine America

Wellington, FL (December 12, 2019) – Lusitano stallion and FEI dressage competitor Fellini Interagro was the latest face of the 2019 fall issue of Equine America, a magazine dedicated to documenting the progress of American equestrianism. Fellini, who was born, bred, and is currently standing in Brazil, was photographed during his 2018 FEI tour of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. The jet black stallion’s portrait was created by the discerning eye of artist, photographer, and conservationist Ramon Casares.

Known for his chiaroscuro images of equines and rehabilitated wildlife, Casares’ image of Fellini accents his use of light, shadow, and texture to conjure an ultra-detailed, engaging image. Fellini’s Casares cover was accented by Equine America‘s story on Lusitanos in the United States; Interagro is the world’s largest breeder and exporter of Lusitano sporthorses, with over 300 exported to the US in the past 30 years.

Fellini debuted internationally in the Small Tour at the 2018 Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida and represents a blending of two of the most proven and decorated dressage bloodlines in Interagro’s breeding program (Nirvana Interagro x Ofensor (MV)). His return to Brazil to contribute to Interagro’s famed breeding program, and subsequently the quality of future Lusitano generations to be imported to the US, has resulted in a first crop of foals on the ground in the summer of 2018, including Oblata Interagro, a buckskin filly out of the talented Carmelita Interagro. Oblata was sold during the 2019 Interagro Yearling Auction this past summer.

Fellini’s portrait from Casares follows in a long line of rescued wildlife and sport horse portraits that have defined the photographer’s work. He has photographed animals from nearly every phylum, class, and order in the animal kingdom. With Casares Fine Art Photography appearing across the globe and garnering international acclaim, his images have captured the imagination of audiences at major media outlets and international art shows. Casares’ portrait style images of nature’s rarest and most common species are the artist’s true accomplishment and calling card. His trademark style is devoid of background distractions and illuminated to detail each whisker, feather, or scale. Realizing his images could generate support and awareness for injured and recuperating commonplace species, as well as those who are in danger of extinction, Casares embarked on a mission to unite his talent for photography with his passion for conservation. BROKEN was the result.

Equine America (EQ AM) is dedicated to expanding awareness of all America has to offer in horse sport. The magazine was founded in 2018 by a disabled combat veteran who medically retired from the U.S. Army after 17 years of service as a helicopter pilot and JAG attorney. The publication’s content focuses on a patriotic spirit positively infused into EQ AM’s pages.

For more information in Equine America (EQ AM), visit their website: www.eq-am.com.

For more information on Interagro Lusitanos, Interagro’s horses for sale, or the Lusitano bloodlines, visit Interagro’s website at www.lusitano-interagro.com.

Media contact:
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Bridget Hay Flying US-Bred Flag in Dressage Ring

Bridget competing on Amy Price’s Fauna, a mare Bridget bred, foaled, and trained (©2018 by Nancy Jaffer)

Bridget Hay has a simple reason why she began breeding dressage horses at her Hunterdon County, N.J., farm.

“It started years ago because I could never afford to import horses or buy well-bred horses,” she explained. “So I make them myself and train them myself.”

She has quite an array of homebreds at the Rainbow Ridge Equestrian Center, from which she has turned in successful performances at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® in Lexington, Ky., the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions in Wayne, Ill., and Dressage at Devon in Devon, Pa.

Hay, who operates Rainbow Ridge with her mother, Barbara, is one of a growing number of U.S. dressage breeders who are enjoying success in a discipline that long has been dominated by European warmbloods. She is unusual, however, because she not only breeds and foals her horses, but she also goes on to train and show them herself.

Bridget recalled that five years ago during Dressage at Devon, a man who was watching while she warmed up her stallion, Faolan, asked, “Why are people importing horses when there are horses like this bred in this country?”

Her answer: “I don’t know why they’re not.”

But reconsidering the question this autumn, she commented, “My horses don’t start out moving the fanciest. But they have three decent gaits and the brain and temperament to be very trainable. You teach them how to move. I have to make them myself.”

And it has worked. Last year, Faolan was U.S. Dressage Federation Intermediate 2 Horse of the Year, and won the Intermediate 2 Open Finals class at the US Dressage Finals in November.

Hay takes lessons, often via video, from Olympian and FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 team silver medalist Adrienne Lyle.

Lyle competes successfully in the U.S. and Europe on a U.S.-bred horse, Duval Partners LLC’s Harmony’s Duval.

Duval was spotted by Bob McDonald in a field at Leslie Malone’s Harmony Sport Horses in Colorado. McDonald, the husband of U.S. Dressage Technical Advisor Debbie McDonald, years earlier also selected Brentina, the Hanoverian mare purchased in Germany who headlined for U.S. dressage with his wife during the late 1990s and well into the 2000s.

Lyle thinks U.S. breeders have the potential to compete with those producing horses abroad.

“The possibilities are very good. There’s no reason, structurally, when you look at our country versus Europe, that we can’t replicate what they’ve done with breeding and training programs,” she stated.

There’s an advantage in finding top prospects in America “because the Europeans aren’t always going to let the best horses go,” she pointed out. And, of course, it’s possible to save money on a U.S. purchase, because the horse doesn’t have to be flown across the ocean and no expensive trans-Atlantic shopping trips are involved.

However, Lyle noted, “Right away we’re at a bit of a disadvantage because they’re (the Europeans) scraping the cream off the top. So if we can make our own cream here and keep it in the country, that would be hugely beneficial.”

Duval, she noted, “walked into Aachen (this year) and got a 75 in the Grand Prix. There was nothing holding him back there for being U.S.-bred.”

Lyle called Hay’s efforts “inspiring,” adding, “That’s one of the reasons I make sure I carve time out to help her. I really admire people who find a way to do this.”

Lyle observed that Hay is “mainly on her own, not with a big budget, but really trying to do things the right way and trying to get help any way she can.”

Hay’s example, she commented, “could show people you don’t have to be a huge multi-million-dollar factory in order to produce and train horses up to Grand Prix.  If we had more people like that, it betters our chances. It can be intimidating otherwise for people to think there’s any place for them in a breeding program, unless they’re some big state stud or something like that, but you don’t have to be.”

During Dressage at Devon this year, USEF Dressage Youth Coach George Williams told a group of competitors that it’s a goal to have at least some U.S. riders on U.S.-bred horses for the team at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Williams, a former Grand Prix competitor and former president of the United States Dressage Federation, said that concept came out of a meeting among USEF dressage coaches, knowing “how important it is to use an event like this to set a goal. If we could have U.S. riders on U.S.-bred and -trained horses, that would be terrific. And certainly we’d like to be on the podium with that as well.”

There are precedents for U.S.-bred horses succeeding in key international championships. Hilda Gurney’s Thoroughbred, Keen, won team gold and individual silver at the 1975 Pan American Games, a pair of gold medals at the 1979 PAG, and was part of the 1976 Olympic bronze medal team. More recently, Paragon, from the Oak Hill Ranch in Louisiana, was ridden by Heather Blitz to team gold and individual silver medals at the 2011 Pan American Games.

“The thinking is that we want to use a major event, like having the Olympics back in this country for the first time since 1996, as a motivator to come together as a community of athletes, trainers, breeders, and owners and see what it can do for the U.S.,” Williams commented.

He believes it is realistic to think “we should be able to have at least part of the (2028) team on U.S.-bred horses.”

The prospects for future U.S. success are in the cards. A few years ago, Williams watched Lehua Custer’s horse, FJ Ramzes, at a California clinic and was impressed.

“I said, ‘This is the best horse I’ve seen in a long, long time,’” he recalled about Ramzes, who was bred by Cornell University and competed at the U.S. Nationals in 2017, when he won the Third Level Open.

Another of Custer’s promising horses, Fortunato H2O, was bred by Kendra Hansis’s Runningwater Warmbloods, located in the same New Jersey county as Hay’s operation. Hansis, an adjunct English professor at several colleges who began her breeding operation in 2001, explained, “I wanted to breed the kind of horse I could not afford to buy.”

Custer, who trains with McDonald and was Hilda Gurney’s assistant trainer for 10 years, spent the summer at Betsy Juliano’s Havensafe Farm in Middlefield, Ohio. The owner of Lyle’s 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games mount, Salvino, Juliano was inspired to buy a foal from Hansis and purchased the filly Starlight H2O earlier this year.

Juliano understands what American breeders have to go through to produce their prospects, and appreciates the desire to see U.S.-bred horses with U.S. riders in the Olympics and other championships.

But as she puts it, “Until you get behind these people, it’s not going to happen. I feel one of the next phases of development in my ownership career is going to be to look very seriously at the U.S. horses, and, when possible, buy them.”

by Nancy Jaffer
© 2019 United States Equestrian Federation

Costume Inspiration from US Equestrian Breed Affiliates’ National Championships

Sjaantje as a honeybee and Gail Aumiller as a beekeeper at the IFSHA World & Grand National Championship Horse Show (Avalon Photography)

With Halloween just around the corner, equestrians are brainstorming or perfecting costumes for themselves and their horses. Several of US Equestrian’s breeds have costumes classes at their national championships that allow competitors to get creative and show their individual style. Costumes ranging from whimsical creatures to native tack and attire acknowledging the breed’s heritage impress the judges and spectators at the national championships. US Equestrian spoke with three experts to hear about their creations and tips they have to help you be successful in the show ring.

Molly Rinedollar and Welsh Pony Helicon Just Notice

The Welsh Pony & Cob Society of America’s American National Show was livestreamed on USEF Network this year, and the costume class was arguably one of the most entertaining classes to watch from the show. One standout entry in the class was Helicon Just Notice, owned by Molly Rinedollar of Helicon Show Stables in Parker, Colo. The Welsh pony entered the ring dressed as a piñata with children from the barn dressed up as M&Ms who tossed candy into the crowd.

Rinedollar’s barn has worked together to create other impressive pony costumes, including the flag of Wales, which involved Helicon Just Notice masquerading as a red dragon and children from the barn dressing up as knights and peasants at the 2018 American National Show. Rinedollar’s inspiration for the flag of Wales dragon costume was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the WPCSA.

“One of my [barn] moms, Sue Williams, helped me with the piñata,” Rinedollar said. “She sewed all the felt pieces on for the piñata. So we had to cut strips and sew them on, then we did the cuts up to make the layers of the piñata.”

The dragon costume for the flag of Wales was more time consuming. “Laurie Grayson, from Boulder, and her group helped with the dragon, which was a little hard because she lives over an hour away, so trying to get that together was tough,” Rinedollar explained. “We got one of those blow-up dragons that go in your yard and cut it up, sewed it, and painted it. That one took a lot of time. It had wings and the tail, so it was pretty time consuming.”

Rinedollar estimated that the piñata took two to four hours to assemble, while the dragon for the flag of Wales took at least 10 hours. The dragon costume also required several sessions to make sure the various pieces were fitting and coming together properly.

Rinedollar recommended trying costumes out before competing in them, especially if you plan on riding your horse or pony in the costume as things can shift unexpectedly. Having an easy-going pony to dress up was another tip from Rinedollar, as Helicon Just Notice was unfazed by his elaborate costumes. “He’s very tolerant and really likes it,” Rinedollar said. “He is pretty simple about the whole thing. I think he likes wearing costumes.”

Rinedollar enjoyed that the whole barn – kids and parents alike – can get involved in the costume class.  “I think it brings everybody together,” Rinedollar said. “The camaraderie of it is fun, and the kids all have a great time. They like dressing up, too.”

While the next American National Show is about 11 months away, Rinedollar and her barn are already making plans for next year’s costume. “We kind of have one that we want to do, but I don’t know how we will pull it together,” Rinedollar said with a laugh.

Gail Aumiller and Friesian Sjaantje

Gail Aumiller of Dreams Come True Farm in Carlisle, Pa. is frequent competitor at the International Friesian Show Horse Association World & Grand National Championship Horse Show, and she has partnered with her Friesian mare Sjaantje to make two carriage pleasure driving costumes come to life. Aumiller and Sjaantje teamed up as a beekeeper and honeybee in 2019, while they were a ringmaster and circus horse, respectively, along with Aumiller’s friends joining as a trick rider, a fortune teller, and a clown for a circus theme in 2016. Both years, Aumiller and Sjaantje claimed the World Champion Friesian Carriage Pleasure Driving – Costume title for their efforts.

Aumiller said she tries to come up with unique and novel costume ideas. She had seen a Friesian dressed as an eagle, and the costume’s wings that fluttered with the horse’s movements inspired Aumiller to have a winged costume for Sjaantje, thus the honeybee costume. For the circus theme, Aumiller acquired a period costume for her horse, which got her brainstorming on ways to highlight the costume. Being able to include her friends in the circus theme was highly desirable for Aumiller, too.

“It was really a lot of fun because, from an exhibitor’s standpoint, you don’t often have the opportunity to share your show ring competition with friends,” Aumiller explained. “But in a costume class like that, where you can take others and you can share it with your friends, made it very enjoyable for me.”

Aumiller spent a full year working on her costumes, from coming up with the idea to perfecting details. She handled the dressing up herself and her horse, but her cousin helped her with anything that needed to be built and added to the carriage. She did one dress rehearsal at home with two to three helpers before each of the costumes’ debuts at the IFSHA World & Grand National Championship Horse Show.

“It seems like every time I use a costume, I tweak it a little bit more. One time with the circus show, I had to use a different carriage, so I didn’t have room to put more than the trick rider and one other person in it so I had to lose the fortune teller,” Aumiller said. “And with my honeybee, the second time I used it I thought, ‘I should have a basket with honeybee products,’ so I put honey in it and beeswax candles and different things like that.”

Aumiller recommended gradually introducing a costume to a horse, so there are no surprises and you are ready to shine in the show ring. “You just have to desensitize them, like if you are putting a flowing robe on them, you just have to do it and get them used to it,” Aumiller explained. “Sometimes it takes more than one or two sessions for them to get used to it.”

Aumiller pointed out that it is important to know what the judges are looking for in any costume class you enter. “In the costume class, originality is supposed to be one of the main things that the judges are focusing on. Of course, in a period costume class it would be on authenticity. If you really want to have a chance at winning, you need to know what the criteria is that the judges are judging you on. Then, you need to focus on that and develop that.”

Aumiller has begun working on her costume for next year’s IFSHA World & Grand National Championship Horse Show, and her cousin has already created a cardboard mockup for the carriage. Sjaantje will have to wait and see what her next costume will be.

“She is a true champion,” Aumiller said of Sjaantje. “She does anything she can to please me, so I like to think that if I like it, then she is going to like it.”

Mario Contreras and His Andalusian and Lusitano Mounts

Mario Contreras of MC Horse Training LLC in Elgin, Ill. has claimed multiple titles at the International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association National Championships while displaying the native tack and attire that acknowledges the origins of the Andalusian and Lusitano horses, horses from Spain and Portugal, respectively.

When Contreras first got started showing in Andalusian/Lusitano classes highlighting the native tack and attire for the breed, he didn’t have many options until he found the right distributors, Lisa Oberman of El Sueño Español and Bill from Iberian Connection. Contreras said he now has eight to 10 outfits that range from traditional native attire to exhibition costumes.

While Contreras has a variety of outfits, each class has specific criteria that is being judged. “I have shown in the Nationals with Andalusians, the Spanish horses, and it is very important that you match the saddle, the saddle pad, the bridle, the [rider’s] shoes, the spurs, the hat, everything has to go with the Spanish outfit and a Spanish horse,” Contreras explained. “And it’s the same thing if you are riding a Portuguese horse, a Lusitano, you have got to make sure that you have everything that goes with it.”

Contreras noted that judges are taught to know the difference between Spanish and Portuguese tack and attire. “When you go into a competition, some judges are nice enough to tell you that that doesn’t go with the outfit and eventually you get more education,” Contreras said. He suggested that competitors in native tack and attire classes do their research or have an experienced individual guide their tack and attire selections.

In addition to compiling the rider’s outfits, the horses have specific tack that they wear as well. “If you see some of the bridles, the buckles that go into the bridles are actually different and sometimes it gives it away if it is Spanish or Portuguese,” Contreras said. “Also, for the doma vaquera classes (pattern work highlighting the breeds’ maneuverability and impulsion) on the presentations, the bridles have what we call a mosquero. The mosquero is actually made out of horse hair and it goes on the forehead on the browband of the bridle. You can use the same bridle, but you can use a different mosquero depending on the horse’s colors. … It is called mosquero because it kind of gets the flies away from the horse’s face. Also, when you are riding and doing doma vaquera, you want the mosquero to swing side to side and, to the judge, that will give a good sense of the horse having a good rhythm on the walk.”

Since some of the native tack pieces may seem out of the ordinary, Contreras suggested treating each horse as an individual as you introduce them to something new. “It just depends on the horse. Some horses are very sensitive, more so than others, just like people,” Contreras said. “I think the mosquero is one of the most difficult things because not all horses accept the mosquero right away, so you have got to be careful how you introduce it and, of course, doing it slowly will be the best thing to do. Sometimes just pass it by his face. What I usually do is when I see a horse who is not too comfortable with it in the beginning, I usually put a little shredded plastic bag at the end of my whip and slowly start petting him with it until the horse gets used to it. Then, eventually you put the mosquero on the browband of the bridle.”

In addition to native tack and attire and doma vaquero classes being fun, they also give a valuable recognition to the heritage of the Andalusian and Lusitano breeds. “It is important to continue the tradition, and I love that the association continues to promote and have those classes for people,” Contreras said. “Every time I go to Nationals, I think that is one of my favorite classes to dress up and really show the breed because, at the end of the day, we are promoting horses. There is nothing better than continuing to show their beginnings and the culture of how horses became what they are now.”

by Kathleen Landwehr
© 2019 United States Equestrian Federation