Category Archives: *Featured/Spotlights

Special features, spotlights, headlines

Bringing Brocks Back Home to the Fields of Dreams

The Irish Sport Horse Paulank Brockagh ridden by Sam Griffiths, pictured in Eventing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where they finished fourth individually and helped secure team bronze for Australia. (Photo: Libby Law)

Last Tuesday night, just as the light was fading, a lorry pulled into a stable-yard in Ireland’s County Wicklow, and when the ramp was lowered a lovely bay mare stepped back in time. It was 10 years since Paulank Brockagh, better known as Brocks, was packed into a trailer by her breeder Paula Cullen for a trip to Australian rider Sam Griffiths’ base in Dorset (GBR) from where a glorious story would begin to unfold.

Brocks “the banker,” as Sam describes her, would become the rock on which the Australian Eventing team could rely over the following decade. Her pathfinding performances at both the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Caen (FRA) where the team finished fourth, and at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where she helped clinch team bronze and finished fourth individually, are the stuff of legend.

She conquered Badminton (GBR) in 2014 thanks to an epic cross-country run, and had a total of 35 international outings, 12 at 5-Star level, and top-ten finishes at Badminton, Burghley (GBR), Pau (FRA), and Luhmühlen (GER). But just a few short weeks ago her owner, Dinah Posford, and Sam decided it was time for the mare to retire and that she should return to live out her days in Ireland.

So last Tuesday night, after giving her a few minutes to relax and graze following her trip across the Irish Sea, Paula walked Paulank Brockagh back to the stable where she was born 17 years ago. It was an emotional reunion, bringing back a lot of memories, and Paula made that walk with pride.

First refusal

“When we sold her in 2010, I said to Dinah that if she ever bred from her, I’d love to have first refusal on the foal. So when I got the call to ask if I’d like to retire her here, I couldn’t hold back the tears!” Paula says.

It was particularly poignant because Brocks’ dam, Calendar Girl, only passed away three months ago at the age of 29. But Brocks will be surrounded by many of her siblings now that she’s home in the Wicklow hills.

Paula has bred all kinds of champions in her day. Initially known as a top producer of Welsh ponies, she enjoyed plenty of big moments at shows in the hallowed Royal Dublin Society arena but now finds herself at the venue more frequently to see her rugby-star son, Leo who had 32 caps for Ireland, in action as Head Coach for Leinster.

When she established Paulank (her own name combined with that of her husband, Frank) Sport Horses, then Brocks really put her on the map. The Irish Sport Horse mare got a great grounding with Joseph Murphy and Daryll Walker before finishing third in the CIC1* at Ballinacoola in Ireland in 2009 with Heidi Hamilton on board. The following spring Paula delivered her to Sam who steered her into eighth place in the 7-Year-Old category at the prestigious FEI World Breeding Federation Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers (FRA) in October, by which time she was in new ownership.

Dinah Posford had been on the lookout for a horse to share with her daughter Jules and husband Steve when she heard about Brocks from her friend Juliet Donald, with whom she already co-owned another of Sam’s top rides, Happy Times.

“Happy was full steam ahead at the time, but when Juliet told me about Brocks I went to see her and thought there was something about her and that it would be lovely to have a mare, so we bought her.” It turned out to be an excellent decision. “The fun we’ve had with her and the joy she has brought us – you couldn’t make it up!” says Dinah.

And the day she cherishes most from Brocks’ career? “When she won at Badminton, it was such an exceptional year. only 32 completed out of 78 starters; she was lying 25th after Dressage but went right up to fifth after cross-country and when she won, I was in a daze! It was just wonderful!”

Incredible cross-country

Sam says what made Brocks so special to ride is that she always gave her all. “I’ve never ridden a horse that would try so hard; she was a naturally good jumper, needed some training on the flat, but an incredible cross-country horse.

“I really felt that I could point her at a house, and she’d try to jump it!

“She would give you so much confidence; she wasn’t the quickest but where she came to the fore was at 5-Star level; she had such endurance; she could just keep going and keep trying, especially on the last day she’d still give it everything she had.

“In Rio (2016 Olympic Games) the cross-country was really tough and when I was the first to go for the team and so many of the other team’s first riders were struggling, I was filled with trepidation. So to get such a brilliant ride and then to do two showjumping clears, that was a real thrill. In Rio, the proper jumpers really came to the fore,” Sam says.

They missed individual bronze by less than two penalty points, pinning Australian compatriot Chris Burton into fifth by just 0.5. Earlier in Brocks’ career, Chris, who is a world-class trainer as well as an athlete and a great friend of Sam’s, was unimpressed by her. “When he visited one time, I told him you have to sit on this mare – I think she might be my next Badminton horse – but he didn’t think too much of her that day. He fell in love with her a few years later though!” Sam recalls with a giggle.

Much as she is adored, however, Brocks can be a bit of a madam, especially with people on the ground. “She’s quite opinionated and when she doesn’t want to go somewhere, she just bolts off in the walk. She used to make me laugh – you’d take her somewhere like Badminton where the horses are allowed to graze on the front lawn and she’d set her eye on where she wanted to go and just storm off, the groom would be water-skiing at the end of the lead-rope and Brocks wouldn’t give a damn!

“A 20-stone man wouldn’t stop her when she wants to go somewhere, and the better she got, the more of a diva she became!” Dinah agrees. “Yes, she’s her own person alright,” says Paula. “I took her once to Boswell (Equestrian Centre in Wicklow) and she sent me flying while I was trying to hold her. She was always a bit impetuous, and I don’t think that’s changed!”

Decision to retire

The decision to retire her wasn’t easily taken. Her last big outing was at Luhmühlen last summer and she was being targeted at Badminton again this year. “It would have been her seventh time there, and it would have been great to produce another good result and then retire her on the last day,” Sam says, but it wasn’t to be. With the pandemic bringing everything to a shuddering halt, even another run at Burghley was out of the question, so Sam and Dinah talked it through and decided enough was enough.

“Dinah’s had horses with me for 20 years now and she’s a proper owner. She does everything for the love of the horses and never wants to push them. The most important thing for her is that they come home safe. Brocks was starting to feel her age; she had a lot of miles on the clock and she didn’t owe anyone anything. She still looks a treat, so although I was upset to see her leaving, I’m really pleased that a horse of her calibre finishes her career happy and sound,” says Sam.

“At the end of day, she’s retiring fit and healthy, and she deserves it. I think it would have been tempting fate to do any more – I couldn’t bear the thought of something happening to her,” Dinah points out. “She’s 100 percent sound and there’s not a blemish on her; that’s wonderful to see,” agrees Paula, who is planning to get Brocks settled before turning her out for a summer of complete freedom so that she switches off from competition mode.

Because as one chapter of her life comes to an end, another may be about to begin. It won’t be anytime soon, but it’s just possible another star could be born in the stable where Brocks was foaled.

They are only talking about it in whispers now, but for Dinah and Paula in particular, that would be the stuff of dreams.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Old Friends Celebrates the Sunshine Forever Stakes May 9

GEORGETOWN, KY – MAY 8, 2020 – On Saturday, May 9, 2020, the featured stakes at Florida’s Gulfstream Park will be the Sunshine Forever Stakes, a tribute to the champion grass runner who was the first stallion retired to Old Friends, the non-profit Thoroughbred retirement facility based in Georgetown, KY.

The son of Roberto out of the stakes-placed mare Outward Sunshine (by Graustark), Sunshine Forever was bred and raced by John W. Galbreath and his Darby Dan Farm and trained by John Veitch.

In 1988, as a three-year-old, the talented colt turned in an Eclipse Award winning season, capturing five graded stakes wins, including three Grade 1 stakes in an eight-week period: The Man O’War, the Turf Classic, and the Budweiser International.

Favored to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf, he finished a game second to Great Communicator in what may be one of the most exciting races in the history of the sport.

CLICK HERE to see Sunshine Forever’s 1988 Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Despite his narrow loss, Sunshine Forever nevertheless earned the 1988 Eclipse Award for Champion Male Turf horse.

Following his racing career Sunshine Forever stood stud in Japan from 1990 to 2004, at which time he was repatriated to the United States by Old Friends, and was among the organization’s first pensioned stallions.

He spent 10 years in retirement, passing away in 2014 at the age of 29.

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

Organisers of Virtual Windsor 2020 Announce ‘Show Week’ Programme

Virtual Windsor 2020 launched a month ago and already the number of visitors and entries to competition has far exceeded expectations, with a total of 4,266 entries across the multitude of classes. Organisers of CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show, one of Her Majesty The Queen’s favourite annual events, have announced the packed official programme for Virtual Windsor 2020 ‘Show Week’.

From 13-17 May, the ‘Virtual Show’ will take place via a daily streamed video, which will comprise the judging of the online Showing classes, Shopping Fix clips, messages from stewards and Royal Windsor Horse Show supporters, and footage from previous years’ Royal Windsor Horse Shows.

‘Show Week’ presents a unique opportunity for the equestrian community to relive some of the most exciting equestrian competitions of recent years, featuring some of equestrian’s best athletes, such as USA’s Kent Farrington, along with Olympic gold medallists Ben Maher MBE, Scott Brash MBE, and Charlotte Dujardin CBE. Highlights include the 2018 and 2019 Rolex Grands Prix, last year’s hotly contested CSI5* Falcon Stakes, and the Al Shira’aa Grand Prix Freestyle to Music. Viewers will also be able to witness the best moments from the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix and stunning displays from the Household Cavalry Musical Ride and the Royal Horse Artillery, all in the comfort of their own homes.

Closely following the live event timetable, the Virtual Windsor 2020 Show Week will bring the judging of the online Showing classes to life, with Royal Windsor Horse Show commentator, Nick Brooks-Ward, interviewing judges Nigel Hollings, John Peacock, Linda Lawrance, Antony Fanshawe, and Lord Charles Beresford, along with special guest judges Alan Titchmarsh MBE and Annabel Brooks-Ward MFH. The judge of each class will be interviewed, and the result announced during the course of the stream.

ACADEMY AWARD WINNER

On the evening of Saturday 16 May, viewers will have the chance to relive last year’s highly acclaimed 2019 Victorian Pageant – a musical, military, and equestrian extravaganza, featuring the voices of Academy Award winner Olivia Colman CBE, Simon Callow CBE, Alan Titchmarsh MBE, alongside music from renowned British score writer Debbie Wiseman OBE. The stunning display, set in the iconic grounds of Windsor Castle, will be streamed online as a one-off performance. Royal Windsor Horse Show sponsor AMAALA is supporting a ‘Pageant Watch Party’, and viewers are encouraged to take part at home.

On Sunday 17 May, Virtual Windsor 2020 will host the Online Showing Championships supported by Rosettes Direct, with the winners of each Showing class going head-to-head to claim the coveted Championship title. Prizes have kindly been donated by RWHS exhibitors, with the champion receiving a Voltaire Design bridle and a magnum of wine from The Magnum Company to the winning owner. Holland Cooper has also supported the Championships, with a jacket presented to the Best Turned Out. All finalists in the Online Showing will receive a Royal Windsor Horse Show rosette, kindly made by longtime RWHS supporters Rosettes Direct.

Show Week at Virtual Windsor 2020 will also include the launch of an interactive map of the showground, where visitors can tour their favourite shopping destinations. The map, which features all the shops usually found at Windsor in their usual places on the showground, will allow visitors to virtually explore the Show and enjoy all the usual Shopping on-site and benefit from some special virtual show offers.

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, commented: “The organising team has done a tremendous job to put on what we believe will be a spectacular Virtual Show Week. I have already seen some very strong entries from all around the world, so the judges are certainly going to have a tough job on their hands. Though the Show could not go ahead in its usual format, Virtual Windsor 2020 has really shown how exceptional the equestrian community is and I would like to thank all those that have supported us and got involved.”

The free-to-view content will begin at 11.30 each day and be available on Facebook, YouTube, and on the Virtual Windsor 2020 website.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

We All Have More Strength Than We Think We Have: Rodolpho Riskalla

Rodolpho Riskalla with Don Henrico. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

“Some people think they can’t change, but we can all see now that when we are forced to change then we can do it.” This is coming from a man who knows what he’s talking about, 35-year-old Brazilian Dressage and Para-Dressage athlete Rodolpho Riskalla. He’s as disappointed as everyone else that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed until next summer, and that equestrian sport in general has ground to a standstill due to the pandemic.

But he has learned to take life, and everything it throws at him, in his stride. He knows what it is to have the world turned upside-down and the best-laid plans swept away in an instant. But he also knows what it is to grit your teeth and get back on your feet – in his case two new prosthetic ones – without ever taking your eyes off the prize. And right now his eyes are fully focused on nothing less than a gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.

Rodolpho is sitting beside the “camping car” (I’m imagining it’s a pretty smart RV) he’s sharing with his mother, Rosangele, and sister, Victoria, close to the stables at Haras de Champcueil, about 60km south of Paris, as we begin our chat. He has a long connection with Ecurie Marina Caplain Saint Andre at Champcueil, so when the French lockdown was about to begin he quickly closed up his Paris home and moved his two horses from their usual lodgings at the Polo Club in the heart of the capital city so that he could continue to be close to them in the countryside. “We didn’t know at the time if the Olympics were going ahead this year or not,” he says. “It was chaos!”

Dior

He works as an Events Manager for the Paris fashion house Christian Dior, and normally exercises his two competition horses at 7.30am every day before heading to the office. “The Polo Club is normally open to the public, but we were told it would be closing from March 16th (due to the pandemic lockdown) so we brought them here right away. Everything is closed in France until May 11th at least,” he explains.

Adapting to new situations has long been a way of life for Rodolpho who travelled over and back from his family home in Sao Paolo in Brazil to France and elsewhere in Europe during his early teens. “I spent a few months with Mariette Witthages in Belgium, and I went to Germany when I was about 20 and spent two years with Norbert van Laak. Then I went back to Brazil for about five years before deciding to leave again for Europe so I would be close to horses and shows and training, and that brought me here to work with Marina, who I already knew from when I was younger, for about two-and-a-half years as a manager and trainer before I started at Dior,” he says. He’s been based in France ever since.

Rodolpho, whose mother is a Dressage judge and trainer, always showed potential. He claimed gold in the South American Young Rider Dressage Championships in Buenos Aires (BRA) in 2004 and won the Grand Prix Special, finished third in the Grand Prix and fourth in the Freestyle at the CDI3* in Sao Paolo (BRA) in February 2012. He produced a series of strong results in Young Horse classes on the French circuit the following year and was hoping to move his horse, Divertimento, up to Big Tour level, and take a shot at a place at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, when tragedy struck in the summer of 2015. He had to return urgently to Brazil.

Very Suddenly

“My dad got sick and he died; it happened very suddenly and by the time I got there he was already gone. I had to look after all the paperwork for that, and I needed to be with my family for a while. But then two weeks later I got sick,” he says. It was bacterial meningitis. “It’s a bit like Coronavirus; some people can get it and are not affected by it, but they can infect someone else. It came out of nowhere. I was good in the morning; I went to see the lawyer and then on to teach one of my friends. In the afternoon I felt like I was getting a flu and I had a high fever, and the next day my mother took me to hospital. I was very sick. They put me in a coma a couple of days later so I could breathe – my heart and everything was shutting down.

“I was in the coma for almost three weeks. Somehow, I managed to survive; they said probably because I was in good health and fit. But my hands and my legs – the extremities – suffered a lot. My (medical) insurance was here in Europe, so Dior managed to fly me back, and I had the amputations in Paris,” he says quite practically.

In June he had been competing at the CDI2* in Compiegne and chasing an Olympic dream. By October he had lost both feet, all the fingers on his right hand and some from the left. And then in November, although he was still very weak, he had to be transferred to a rehabilitation centre much sooner than expected because his hospital bed was needed for victims of the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks.

I ask Rodolpho how he coped with all this, mentally as well as physically.

No time to think

“I didn’t have time to think too much; that’s the good thing, and I was really lucky to have my family and friends with me all the time; that was so important,” he replies. And he’s clearly a rule-breaker. On 2nd January 2016, less than five months after falling ill, he went to the stable where one of the horses he had been riding was kept and was lifted into the saddle. He didn’t have his prosthetics fitted at this stage.

“We could get out every weekend from rehab and yes it was crazy to get on the horse that day, but this moment changed something in my head. I suddenly realised I could manage!

“When you have everything (all your limbs) you think you could never do without them. I was one of those people who would look at a person in a wheelchair thinking I could never be like them.”

He’d lost 30kgs, and with his amputation scars still raw he had to wait until March before his prosthetics could be fitted. However, by the time he was discharged from rehab on 1 May he’d already competed at his first two Para-Dressage shows on a horse borrowed from a friend. His doctors let him sneak out of the rehab facility, saying, “Go! but don’t tell anyone at the hospital!” he tells me with a laugh.

He has now mastered his movement so well that he has a separate set of prosthetics so he can go running a few times a week as well. He’s back competing in both Dressage and Para-Dressage. There’s just no holding this man down.

Transition to Para

Having competed up to Grand Prix Dressage level, he found the transition to Para a bit bewildering at first. He says you get away with nothing in a Para test. There are five grades of competition and Rodolpho competes in Grade lV. “There are a lot of transitions and small turns and the judges look at every little thing! When you ride Prix St George or Grand Prix, it’s one movement after another; in Para it’s about straightness, suppleness, contact, good transitions, and it has really improved my horses because you have to be right on point; everything has to be fluid. Sometimes at the higher level, riders produce a flashy half-pass but forget about the basics. I feel now that my PSG horse is much more on the aids,” Rodolpho explains.

It’s hard to believe that he made it to the Paralympics in his home country just four months after leaving hospital in 2016, finishing individually 10th with Warenne. His extraordinary story earned him the FEI “Against All Odds” award that year, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house when he walked to the stage at the Park Tower Hotel in Tokyo to accept his trophy in November. And then, two years later, he claimed individual double-silver in Para-Dressage at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA riding Don Henrico.

He’s had Don Henrico, which is owned by Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff of Gestüt Schafhof, since 2017. “He’s a stallion and sensitive, but right away we got along together. Some horses don’t adapt too well to Para riders; you can’t have a horse that’s too lazy or too big. In my case the disability is my legs and the reins (Rodolpho uses looped reins), but Don Henrico really played the game. He’s super fun!”

Don Frederic

Then along came Don Henrico’s brother, the stallion Don Frederic. “I needed a second horse and my sister was working for Ann Kathrin at the time and told me about him. She said he was a better mover and would suit me well.” However, Ann Kathrin wasn’t ready to sell, so Rodolpho continued his search for a back-up ride until, in a phone call with Ann Kathrin’s stepson Matthias Alexander Rath on the way home from last summer’s FEI European Championships in Rotterdam, he got an invitation to come and try the horse. They really clicked and, thanks to Brazilian friend Tania Loeb Wald who purchased him, Don Frederic joined Rodolpho’s team in November 2019.

“It took a few months for him to adapt and be a little more on my aids but he’s really great, a bit less sensitive than Don Henrico who sometimes has a little too much character! We started this year doing both Dressage and Para-Dressage and I took him to Doha (CPEDI3* in February 2020) where he was super and got three really nice scores (winning all three classes).”

Earlier in February Rodolpho competed Don Henrico at the CDI1* in Neumünster (GER), finishing fourth in the Intermediate Freestyle and fifth in the Prix St Georges, both won by German superstar Helen Langehanenberg. In Para-Dressage and in Dressage, the Brazilian rider is very competitive.

The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to summer 2021 means he has even more time to really cement his partnership with Don Frederic. “So I’m in the lucky position of having two championship horses and now we don’t want to just go to Tokyo for a medal – we want gold!” he says with another laugh.

Adaptability

But I know it’s not a joke. This is a man with colossal inner strength and steely determination. I can sense he’s grinning when he confirms, “Yes, I always want more. I want to win; I want to be better. I’ve always been like that! That’s how I got through what I’ve been through because I was able to adapt. Adaptability is the key word, and pushing your own boundaries a bit. We all have more strength than we think we have!” he insists.

As we conclude our time together I ask him if he has a message for people worried about the instability in the world right now due the pandemic, and he replies, “It’s not an easy time for anyone because we don’t know what the future holds. We need to get past this and we’ll get there, but we can’t rush time and we’ve got to be patient.”

He concludes, “If there is one thing I have learned from my own experience over the last few years, it is that when people care about each other, then everything is easier.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Taking a Chance on Madison

Madison at home in Florida. Photo courtesy of Sariah Hopkins.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic helps one mini donkey survive a roller coaster of health concerns

The popular veterinary adage, “if only they could just tell us how they feel,” never rang truer than in the case of an 11-year-old miniature donkey mare named Madison. Owned by Sariah Hopkins, “Madi” came to Palm Beach Equine Clinic by referral and was diagnosed with hyperlipemia, a fatty liver syndrome common in miniature donkeys. Madi’s case, however, was never exactly how it seemed.

Hopkins describes Madi as the “center of attention.” Rescued from an animal hoarding situation by Safe Harbor Sanctuary in Nashville, TN, where Hopkins serves on the Board of Directors, Madi was officially adopted by Hopkins and her husband Joel in 2015.

“She was one of 40 horses and donkeys being kept on four acres of land,” said Sariah, who relocated to Juno Beach, FL with Madi in tow in 2018. “She has always had a super sweet, calm personality, but likes to kick up her heels. We’ve done behavioral health therapy work with foster children and she makes everyone who meets her fall in love. She is so engaging.”

After trading Tennessee for Florida, Madi didn’t adjust to her change in environment with ease. According to Sariah, a systematic decline in her health started as the mare tried to adjust to a new barn, environment, farrier, and life. “She was depressed,” said Sariah. “She wasn’t her bright-eyed self. She’s a donkey and she will eat anything, so when she went off her grain and refused alfalfa, I called a local vet to pull fluids and run blood work.

“I reviewed the results with my vet in Tennessee who knows Madi and her history,” continued Sariah. “They were catastrophically bad, and she told me I needed to get Madi to a clinic immediately. I was referred to Palm Beach Equine Clinic by my friend Nataliya Boyko. Within minutes, I was on the phone with her vet, Dr. Bryan Dubynsky, and soon after we were on our way.”

Once Madison arrived at Palm Beach Equine Clinic, she was treated primarily by Dr. Abby Berzas and overseen by Dr. Dubynsky. They diagnosed her with hyperlipemia, and she remained at the clinic for two weeks.

Hyperlipemia syndrome is a common metabolic disease of ponies, miniature horses, and donkeys. In affected patients, an increase in serum triglyceride concentrations (hypertriglyceridemia) puts them at risk for liver failure, renal failure, and multiorgan dysfunction that can ultimately lead to death.

Genetically, donkeys are designed to live in harsh environments with poor-quality forage. As a result, they tend to put on weight and gain excess fat reserves when living on relatively lush pasture. Unfortunately, when they stop eating for any reason – usually stress induced – hyperlipemia may develop due to a negative energy balance where more energy is being used than is being taken in through eating. The essential organs of the body still require a food supply, so it uses the energy that has been stored as fat deposits. The result is that free fatty acids are circulated to the liver and converted to glucose for use by the body.

However, donkeys are not able to efficiently turn off this fat release. The blood soon fills up with excess fat in circulation, causing them to become very sick and uncomfortable. This circulating fat is measured in the blood as triglycerides.

Madison’s case presented as a severe spike in triglycerides, which can be reduced by introducing sugars into the system. The sugar causes the body to release insulin and drive the triglycerides down.

“She responded well the first day, but we didn’t see the improvement that we would have liked or that she needed,” said Dr. Berzas. “We started more aggressive treatments the following day with insulin therapy and antibiotics. The dextrose caused a physiological increase in insulin, but it wasn’t enough. As soon as she had insulin therapy her triglyceride levels started coming down. They decreased significantly and she started eating again.”

Madison remained on insulin therapy for a week and was evaluated hourly by Palm Beach Equine Clinic veterinarians to monitor the possibility of hypoglycemic shock. When Madison was able to eat regularly and maintain low triglyceride levels without any help, she was discharged.

“I had access to Madi daily, and we made the most of her time in the hospital with long hand walks, grazing, and relaxing in her stall,” said Sariah. “I got updates from the clinic every two to three hours when I wasn’t there, and without any more clinical signs, she appeared to be improving.

“But, when I got her home she still was not herself,” continued Sariah, who spent hours sitting in Madi’s stall with her. Madi’s home was now Sariah and Joel’s private farm and they did all they could to eliminate the stress that supposedly led to Madi’s condition. “She was good for 24 to 48 hours and then would slide backwards again. One afternoon, I was sitting in her stall and she had a coughing fit that I was able to video. I sent it to [Dr. Berzas] and she came out to the farm to check on Madi.”

Dr. Berzas performed a thoracic ultrasound and spotted comet tails in her lungs, leading to one thing: pneumonia.

“We were wracking our brains to figure out what the original stressor might have been that led to the hyperlipemia, but Madi did not display any signs of pneumonia at the clinic and did not cough once,” said Dr. Berzas. “Then, there it was! Donkeys are stoic, tough animals, and sometimes they don’t give us traditional clinical signs.”

While hyperlipemia was the result, pneumonia was the cause.

“Cortisol, also known as the ‘stress hormone’ has a vast array of effects within the body, and it is one of the first triggers for the body to recruit energy from its peripheral stores,” explained Palm Beach Equine Clinic Internal Medicine Specialist Dr. Peter Heidmann. “It minimizes discomfort and increases blood pressure and metabolic rate, basically saying, ‘Now is not the time to conserve energy for the future. I need energy now in order to survive.’ In Madison’s case, the infection prompted the body to need more than average energy – it needed extra fuel to fight the infection.”

The typical diagnostic procedure for pneumonia is a tracheal wash procedure, but after consulting with Dr. Heidmann, Dr. Berzas elected to try and mitigate any further stress on Madison by choosing a less invasive procedure. Instead, Dr. Berzas used a special stylette that allowed them to go through the nasal sinuses and cleanly aspirate back cellular fluid for analysis. This option is called a bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and is most typically used for diagnosing cell types in the lungs.

“After culturing her fluid aspirate, she went back on antibiotics and responded well,” said Dr. Berzas. “She also had nebulizer treatments that delivered antibiotics directly to the lungs, which is the best way to treat the infection.”

One month after the pneumonia diagnosis, Sariah was proud to report that Madi had made a full recovery. “When we brought her in that first day, we frankly were getting ready to say goodbye,” said Sariah. “We were devastated, and Dr. Dubynsky agreed to try and save Madi. Thank goodness he did!”

Once the pneumonia was cleared, Madi’s routine returned to normal and the hyperlipemia was no longer an issue. Today, Madi is happily overseeing the day-to-day at Sariah and Joel’s farm.

“Palm Beach Equine Clinic treats some of the top sport horses in the world, but I feel that Madi – a very special donkey – received the same treatment,” concluded Sariah. “Dr. Berzas was 100% available to me, and she championed Madi. I could not be more thankful to her and the entire team of veterinarians and staff who rallied around our Madi.”

“When we have a case that’s particularly challenging to diagnose,” Dr. Berzas remarked, “it just reminds us of how fortunate we are to be part of a team of specialists. At Palm Beach Equine Clinic, we are able to tap into the knowledge and experience of our fellow veterinarians from different specialties, and really deliver that value for the patient.”

Sariah chronicled Madi’s condition and recovery on her Facebook page, developing quite a fan base for the little donkey. Madi’s story is far from over, but now she’s telling it herself and can be followed on Facebook as @MadisonJoelleDonk.

Palm Beach Equine Clinic
www.EquineClinic.com

Lexington Bourbon Society to Host Zoom Derby Event to Benefit Old Friends

Silver Charm, 1997.

The Kentucky Derby has been postponed, but we still get to celebrate the First Saturday in May. Our friends at the Lexington Bourbon Society are hosting a Zoom Party to celebrate Derby Day and also to help Old Friends and our 200+ retired horses, including 1997 Kentucky Derby-Preakness champion Silver Charm.

There are 50 spaces left to join this event. For every ticket sold, $10 will be donated to Old Friends.  Here are all the details:

What:
Pop-up Derby-In-Place Zoom Party

When:
Saturday, May 2nd 3-6 PM EST (Zoom portion 4:30-6)

Where:
The comfort of your own home

How:
$10 donation paid directly to Old Friends via eventbrite, with your confirmation email from the donation containing your unique Zoom login credentials.
(tickets: derby-in-place.eventbrite.com)

Who:
The first 50 people to complete their donation and receive their login details.

Why:
To support the wonderful work of the fine folks at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm.

The Lexington Bourbon Society has teamed up with Michter’s Distillery, ubercapper.com, and Lexington’s Wine+market to bring fans a fantastic solution to the 146th Kentucky Derby being moved from the First Saturday in May to Saturday, September 5.

Saturday, May 2nd, NBC Sports will present a virtual Kentucky Derby at Home Party, which includes “The First Saturday In May: American Pharoah’s Run to the Triple Crown”, a look back at American Pharoah’s 2015 Derby win en route to his historic Triple Crown, and “The Kentucky Derby: Triple Crown Showdown”, a socially distant, computer-simulated edition of the Run for the Roses that pits all 13 Triple Crown winners against each other. (full details:  kentuckyderby.com/party)

While you have this broadcast on the television, we will host a zoom.us gathering starting at 4:30 that will include Michter’s schwag giveaways, Derby hat/fascinator/outfit contest, interactive Mint Julep demonstration and recipe, drawing for a private tour for two at Old Friends with Board President Michael Blowen, some fun “wagering”, and live handicapping of the Triple Crown Showdown by syndicated Thoroughbred handicapper Elis Starr (@Ubercapper) and more!

We will post a Zoom tutorial with dos and don’ts to ensure a smooth, enjoyable experience for all attending in the comments.

For more information, visit www.oldfriendsequine.org.

Five Leading Ladies in the World of Horse Racing

The world of Horse Racing is notoriously difficult for women to make breakthroughs. Despite the success of American jockey Julie Krone and two-time Grand National winning trainer Jenny Pitman, the ladies are still facing an uphill struggle. There have been notable big-race successes in recent years, and we have picked out five ladies who are aiming to break down more barriers in the coming years.

Gai Waterhouse

Gai Waterhouse is one of the leading trainers in Australia and sometimes referred to as “the first lady of Australian racing.” She trained her first Group 1 winner in 1992, her first year as a licenced trainer. In 1994 she took over the Tulloch Lodge Stable from her father, Tommy J. Smith. She has gone on to unprecedented success, including over 135 Group 1 victories and seven Sydney Trainers’ Premierships.

In 2007, Waterhouse was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame. She trained Nothin’ Leica Dane to finish second in the Melbourne Cup in 1995 but had to wait until Fiorente in 2013 to taste success in the big race.

Jamie Kah

Jamie Kah is one of trio of top-flight lady jockeys in Australia. She, along with Linda Meech and Raquel Clark, finished in the top six in terms of winners last year. Kah rode her first winner in 2012 and picked up valuable experience riding work in Europe for leading Newmarket trainer Sir Michael Stoute.

Kah did not make the big breakthrough until 2016/17 when she rode 129 winners, a new record for a lady rider in Australia. She won her third Adelaide Jockey’s Premiership the following year and made the move to Melbourne in 2019. Harlem provide her with a first Grade 1 success at the Australian Cup at Flemington.

Sophie Doyle

American rider Sophie Doyle has racing in her blood. She is the daughter of former trainer Jacqueline Doyle and sister to leading European jockey James Doyle.  She was a successful apprentice rider in the UK before making the bold move to California in 2013.

Doyle had spent two winters as a work rider in the United States and believed she had better prospects there than in the UK. After moving to the Kentucky circuit, she enjoyed Grade 2 victories aboard Fioretti and Street Band. The latter provided her with her first Grade 1 success in the Cotillion Stakes in 2019.

Doyle is very popular with punters in the US and in Europe. OLBG.com provides daily predictions for horseracing for race meetings across the globe. The Online Betting Guide has been established for 18 years and leaves no stone unturned in the search for winners. There are trainer and jockey stats, detailed racecourse information and a very lively horse racing tips forum.

Rachael Blackmore

You need to be able to take the knocks in National Hunt racing, but they don’t come much tougher than Ireland’s Rachael Blackmore. She gained her first experience in point-to-point races before turning professional in 2015.

Blackmore became the first female winner of the Conditional Jockeys’ title in Ireland in 2016/17, including victory in the £100,000 Leinster National. She quickly rode out her claim and formed a very successful partnership with trainer Henry De Bromhead.

Her first Cheltenham Festival victory came aboard A Plus Tard in 2019 and Grade 1 success followed on 50-1 outsider Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. She returned to the festival in 2020 for further Grade 1 glory on Honeysuckle in the Mares’ Hurdle.

Venetia Williams

Venetia Williams hit the headlines when training 100-1 outsider Mon Mome to win the Aintree Grand National in 2009. She learned her trade when working for leading trainers Martin Pipe and John Edwards before being granted a licence in 1995.

Williams also won the valuable Hennessy Gold Cup and King George VI Chase with Teeton Mill in 1998. In 2009 she landed a Cheltenham Festival double with Kayf Aramis and Something Wells. She is particularly adept at training staying chasers and is based in Herefordshire, England.

By Harvey Mayson

Nothing Is Worth More Than Our Health: Isabell Werth

Isabell Werth and Satchmo. (FEI/Kit Houghton)

She’s fun, focused, fabulous, and sometimes a little formidable. The most medalled athlete in the history of equestrian sport, Germany’s Isabell Werth looked set to add yet another title to her very long list at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ 2020 Final in Las Vegas, USA before that was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“I try to take the good things out of all this,” Isabell said when we spoke recently (Saturday 18 April). “I have more time to concentrate on my young horses, more time for the family, for all the horses, for the whole stables, especially now that spring is here and there is so much to do.”

Like everyone else she’s had to adapt in order to keep everyone safe at home. “We have three generations living here on our farm (near Dusseldorf), and my parents are still really well and I hope we can keep the virus away. We try to go on like normal but keep a distance. At the beginning it was quite hard for my son (10-year-old Frederik) not to visit my parents, but now he’s a bit more used to it and so it’s fine.”

My Q&A plan goes a bit astray from the outset. I’m taken aback when I find out that the great Isabell Werth, known in the sport as “The Queen,” is just like so many of the rest of us – girls in particular – who are so passionate about horses and horse sport.

She too was a pony-mad kid, and in a way she’s still just living that dream….

Heroes

When I ask “Who were your childhood heroes?” she tells me, “Well, it all started with the Bille and Zuttel books about a little girl and her pony. I loved to read, and Bille was my first hero and I wanted to be like her! Today my son (10-year-old Frederik) is playing with an iPhone and an iPad, but when I was his age, I was reading those books,” she explains. “It’s a different world now,” I comment, and Isabell replies, “Yes – although for sure it’s not better!

She continues: ”When I got more serious about my riding I looked up to all the big names like Reiner Klimke and Margot Otto-Crepin (sadly, 1989 FEI Dressage World Cup™ winner Margit passed away on Sunday 19 April), and when I started with Dr Schulten-Baumer then Nicole (Olympic gold medallist Nicole Uphoff) was in the stable. It was the time of Christine Stuckelberger and Anne-Grethe Jensen – so many great riders,” she says.

So how does it feel to be the hero for others now? “To be honest I don’t think about it. It’s lovely when kids come up and ask me questions – I’m really touched by that, but I don’t think about why they are doing it!”

Influences

The person who influenced you most? “During my career for sure it was Dr Schulten-Baumer (world-famous dressage trainer and coach, nicknamed Der Doktor). He taught me how to build up a horse and about management. He was always thinking about the future and how to deal with unexpected things, so I was quite well-prepared for what happened later in my career. When I eventually had my own stable all this gave me a strong basis.

“And then of course the second person is Madeleine Winter-Schulze (a great patron of German equestrian athletes including Isabell). These two people were, and are, the most important during my riding career next to my parents, my partner (Wolfgang Urban), and my family.”

Who is in your back-up crew? “My family, my life-partner, and my parents always have my back. I can discuss everything with them in and around the sport, and even though he’s not experienced with horses, Wolfgang has management experience because of his business and profession so he has helped me a lot. When we come to the daily work in the stables first of all it’s Steffi (Steffi Weigard), my groom – she’s really close to me when it comes to what happens with our show horses; she has a very good eye and feeling. The stable staff, my riders, and then Mary (her right-hand woman) of course. I’ve been working with most of these people for more than 10 years and it’s a close partnership,” Isabell explains.

Horses

What do you like best about being around horses? “Being in the middle of them, working with them, just sitting on them and being in my own world. I love it!”

Anything you don’t like about being around horses? “No, only in the horse business sometimes it’s difficult to deal with the people! You have to learn not to say everything you want to say, to know when it’s better to keep your mouth shut! Sometimes that’s hard for me and sometimes I can’t do it, but I have learned to be better at it!” she says with a laugh.

The horse you liked the most? “Gigolo, Satchmo, and now Bella Rose have been the most important horses in my life. At the moment I have Weihegold, and of course I love her and we’ve had great success together, but it is something different with Satchmo for instance.” There is real emotion in her voice now.

“Today he was in the field when I was riding back from the racetrack with Weihegold. I was talking to her about the fact that we should actually be in Las Vegas doing our Freestyle today when Satchmo walked up to remind me that he was there with me 11 years ago (finishing second in the 2009 FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final).

“To see him grazing with the little pony Kelly, coming over for a chat and then going down to eat more grass without a care in the world, and to feel Weihe passaging under me because she was so awake and so keen, that’s something special for me personally. She is still enjoying the sport; he is so happy in his retirement, and nobody else sees that moment but it makes me feel so good!”

Have you retired many of your top horses at your farm? “Yes, all of them! Satchmo is the oldest now; he is close to 26; he will have his birthday in May so we will celebrate – maybe have a Corona-party for him! First Class is still here, and Fabienne and Anthony and Gigolo were with us for such a long time, until they were 25, 26, 29 years old and it was really great to have them. Also, to keep them until the day they died, that was, and is, for me also important – they were much more than just successful Grand Prix horses.

“Most of them had about 10 years in the field after 10 years of top sport. Also Whisper – everyone knew him as my ‘doping horse’ (Isabell was suspended in 2009 when Whisper tested positive for a prohibited substance) – but nobody asked later if he’s still alive, and he is still alive (now aged 21) and he is also with my retired horses in the field and we take great care of him in the same way as all the rest. And that’s also something that’s in my heart but nobody sees it!” she says.

Outstanding

Are there some other top horses you would have liked to ride? “Margit Otto-Crepin’s Corlandus. He was such an outstanding horse, and Totilas – it would have been great to feel how he was to ride – and of course Valegro and Mistral Hojris too. They were all fantastic!”

The best horse you have ever ridden? This answer comes as no surprise…. “Bella Rose! She’s the best I’ve ever had, the one able to do everything, and you can feel always there is something more possible – that makes her so outstanding!”

When you are competing you have a gift for working up a crowd – do you think you could have been an actress in another life? “Not really! To be an actress you must be flexible so you can jump into different kinds of roles. But my role is simple: it’s riding dressage, it’s horses, and I love what I do!”

How do you like working with the media? “You learn to have confidence in answering questions, sometimes with more humour; it depends a bit on the emotion at the time. But (and I think I know what’s coming here), when you are asked for the 120,000th time when are you going to stop riding because now you are 50… and you know they are still writing about 10 other riders who are 60 and older but they never ask them when they are going to stop….”

A bit of a joker

If Johnny (Don Johnson), Emilio, Weihe, and Bella were talking about you in the stables, what would they say? “Johnny is a bit like my son; he would say let her tell me what to do but I’ll still do what I want! But when it comes down to it, we are a team. He’s a bit of a joker, but in the end we really love each other!

“Emilio would always be a bit more like a little boy: a little less confident but trying to give his best. Weihe – she would always be saying, ‘Okat, just tell me what I should do and I’ll do it!’ No horse is like her; she can be so quiet, but she can switch from being a nice little mare to a serious competition horse in an instant.

“Bella is proud; she’s a real lady. She knows how good she is and how much I love her. The only thing is that she always wants to do more. She might say, ‘Why won’t she let me run like I want to run, because I could go so much faster!’ You take her out for a hack and go for a little canter but it’s never enough; after a few metres she wants to gallop!”

How do you handle your emotions under pressure? “It’s a question of discipline in the moment, and I had a really good teacher in Dr Schulten-Baumer. You’ll find a lot of photos of me crying in successful moments, but I’m sure you won’t find any of me crying from disappointment. When I’m really disappointed, I work it out on my own. And it’s not because I’m older now. I’ve been like this since I was 20.”

A hard time

What do you say to people when they tell you how worried they are about the pandemic and the effect it’s having on us all? “I think it’s a hard time but I’m sure we will get through it and it won’t be as much of a disaster as some people think right now. But for sure it seems to open the gap more, even in our little horse world, between the rich and the people who are not so wealthy. I think everyone is going to lose in some way, and this puts more responsibility on those in the driving seat.

“Maybe we will go back to some kind of competition life in September or October, but that will depend on how quickly a vaccination can be found. This is a very infective virus and it’s making everyone very scared. I’m hoping that by the end of year we will see light at end of tunnel.

“For the first time in 30 years the Himalayas are visible from a long way. It seems the earth is taking a bit back from us; nature is telling us something important. So for now we have to calm down and know that life is possible without planes, without cars, without a lot of business. Life will go on – with the virus, without the virus – it’s just a question of how we get through it.”

Tokyo

How do you feel about the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games? “For a lot of athletes who wanted to end their career in 2020, it’s huge. In my personal case I say it’s bad luck; maybe the horses were in top shape this year but OK now we have to adjust and prepare for 2021. All three of mine are young and fit enough to go next year, but I’m long enough in sport to know anything can happen between now and then.

“In the end I hold onto my dream of going with Bella to the Olympics, but we have all learned something very important over the last few months. We can have our hopes and dreams… but nothing is worth more than our health.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Days End Farm Horse Rescue: Planning for the Future

As Days End Farm Horse Rescue (DEFHR) navigates through our sixth week under strict quarantine restrictions, our staff continues to push through, thanks to our community of supporters. We are so grateful to everyone who has donated or reached out to see how they could help and if we are okay. The horses are all being well taken care of and are oblivious to the crisis unfolding around them.

Because of your support, DEFHR is able to react in the face of emergencies such as COVID-19 and quickly enact policies and procedures to protect the health of our staff and horses. Days End Farm is currently caring for 80 horses, including seven critically ill mares. Your support allows us to prepare for the weeks ahead, with the promise that we will do everything we can to help horses in need. Every horse in this video is currently in our care and every transformation is made possible because of our loyal supporters. Thank you for fighting alongside us. Together we will get through this.

Click here to donate to our COVID-19 Preparedness Fund.

Days End Farm Horse Rescue – www.DEFHR.org

Virtual Windsor 2020 Receives Thousands of Entries from around the World

Following the cancellation of Royal Windsor Horse Show due to COVID-19, the Organisers of the Show have put an innovative solution in place: Virtual Windsor 2020, an online platform that merges virtual competition with e-commerce and social media.  Virtual Windsor has already generated an astounding number of entries to its online Showing classes, which are taking place at the same time as the usual competitions at the Show.

Across all classes, there have already been 3,122 entries from all corners of the globe, demonstrating the willingness of the worldwide equestrian family to pull together and celebrate their passion virtually (a ‘normal’ Royal Windsor would receive around 2,300 entries to its Showing classes). The classes will be judged by Chief Showing Steward, Nigel Hollings, with expertise also provided by John Peacock and Linda Lawrance.

Alan Titchmarsh, Royal Windsor Horse Show Member, celebrated gardener, and television presenter, has joined in with the spirit of the event and is set to judge the fancy dress competition, which has already had some very creative entries. He joins a line-up of judges who have been selected for their expert knowledge, and who have previous experience at top Showing events.

Frances Hampson-Jones has entered her trusted partner, Holliday, in the Ridden Senior Horse or Pony. Their combined horse and rider age is 90 years old – quite a feat! Other heartwarming stories include the 27-year-old horse Sweet William, who has – despite health issues – competed at Royal Windsor every year since he was 16 in the Senior Horse or Pony classes, which he continues to contest virtually this year.

Emma Tovey, owner of Sweet William, said: “Royal Windsor is a very special show to us, and we will miss it enormously this year, but I’m pleased to be able to enter the virtual version. Bring on 2021 and thank you for coming up with a way to keep our spirits up!”

Elsewhere, the line-up includes racehorse Saint Are – five-time runner in the Grand National, including a second placing in 2015 – who is entered in the Retraining of Racehorses class, with his owners hoping to win one of the prestigious Royal Windsor rosettes.

Simon Brooks-Ward, Show Director, said: “It’s a great shame that Royal Windsor Horse Show couldn’t go ahead as planned; however, Virtual Windsor 2020 has been phenomenally popular, showing that everyone can come together during these tough times. The amount of entries we have received has been astonishing, with the variety and level of competition extremely high. We want to thank everyone who has supported Virtual Windsor 2020 so far and look forward to what is set to be an exciting Championships taking place on 17 May 2020.”

Virtual Windsor 2020 was also created to support the shops that the show houses each year, many of whom are independent traders. The online show has now welcomed more than 190 brands, with some of them displaying their wares at “Royal Windsor” for the first time this year. Many have selflessly contributed to the NHS however they can, with Hayfield England producing a beautiful hat pin in blue and white feathers to raise money for the NHS; Thermatex colleagues making scrubs bags for NHS employees; and the owner of Bella Singleton – a luxury clothing designer specialising in silk products – creating face masks available to the general public.

The Royal Windsor Horse Show community has shown an admirable ability to seamlessly transfer into the “Virtual World”, with more than 50,000 page views on the Virtual Windsor 2020 platform, coupled with all Royal Windsor related social media pages growing exponentially. As well as this, Virtual Windsor 2020 continues to grow the content platform. Interviews with a golden list of equestrian stars, including Ros Canter, Martin Fuchs, and Daniel Naprous, videos of unforgettable Royal Windsor Horse Show moments of the past, top tips on horse care and nutrition, as well as a new series including Royal Windsor judges will all be uploaded in the coming days and weeks.

Entries for Virtual Windsor 2020 will remain open until Friday 1 May 2020 with shortlists of each class to be announced on Friday 8 May 2020. Classes will be judged during Show week with final winners progressing to the Championships being judged on Sunday 17 May 2020.

VIRTUAL WINDSOR 2020 can be found at virtual.rwhs.co.uk.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355