Derby Hats ~ Is There Really A Winner?




Olympian “Poggio” ~ A Former Pack Horse

From humble beginnings,
Poggio proves to be a winner.


Amy Tryon and Poggio II , the 16 year old bay thoroughbred gelding, are again representing the U.S. Olympic eventing team in Hong Kong.

Tryon, 38, helped win the team bronze medal on Poggio II at the 2004 Athens Games.  And now they are back for the 2008 Olympics.

A decade ago, while most of his competitors were being groomed for blue ribbons or thoroughbred racing, Poggio was lugging camping gear and other equipment up and down the Cascade Range east of Seattle.

Tryon, a recently retired firefighter from Duvall, Wash., didn’t find Poggio in a stall.

She didn’t witness the veiled potential of a horse that has since won an individual bronze medal at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Germany and helped the U.S. equestrian team to a bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics and gold at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Spain.

 She found the only horse to qualify for every U.S. national team over the last six years in the classified ads of a newspaper.

Poggio’s definitely had some humble beginnings, to say the least,” said Joanie Morris, communications manager for the United States Equestrian Federation.

“I’d have to say he’s the only pack horse to be in the Olympics. He’s an anomaly, for sure. Not too many Olympic horses are found in the want-ads.”

It was not love at first sight.

“He was in pretty sad shape,” Tryon said. “His feet needed attention. He had been living in a paddock with a bunch of horses and was a bit chewed up. And his feet were not put on his body very straight. He had long hair that needed cut.

“He certainly wasn’t a show horse.”

Poggio had a short and failed career in thoroughbred racing before becoming a pack horse.

Tryon’s challenge: Make Poggio a master of dressage – the disciplined display of natural movements often called “horse ballet” – plus show jumping and cross-country racing.

Throughout exhaustive retraining, Poggio showed his inherent jumping ability.

Within one year, he was the first horse Tryon rode in a world-class eventing competition. Three years later, they were world champions.

Now they are back for the 2008 Olympics.

Tryon says, “I’m planning this to be Pogie’s last big international competition. He certainly doesn’t owe me anything,” she said.

“What I want for him is to step away from competition when he is still healthy and happy.”

Reaching the Olympics twice … “Oh, yeah,” Tryon said, “this is certainly much more than I expected Poggio and I to achieve.

”I’m so proud of my horse” Tryon said.


Link:  Tryon and Poggio Olympic Blog

Re-written from News Sources

Bo Derek Appointed to Calif. Horse Racing Board


Bo Derek, animal rights activist


California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has named animal lover Bo Derek to the seven-member California Horse Racing Board, which oversees all of the state’s racing and betting action.

The 1980s-era movie star attended her first meeting at Del Mar Racetrack, near San Diego. The post, which was confirmed by the state Senate, pays $100 per day, maybe enough for extra oats for her own stable full of Iberian horses.

Derek, who has been lobbying Congress for the past five years to ban the slaughter of wild horses, could hardly have found a more suitable role.

In addition to being a spokeswoman for the Animal Welfare Institute, in 2002 she penned the memoir Riding Lessons: Everything That Matters in Life I Learned from Horses.

Bo Derek is the founder of her own line of fine pet-care products, Bless the Beasts.

Bo Derek has been active in many capacities for the protection of animals. In addition to her work on the Galapagos Conservancy, she serves on a number of boards, including WildAid, which is trying to stop the illegal wildlife trade.

Bo Derek was also appointed Special Envoy of the Secretary of State for Wildlife Trafficking.

She has taken up the cause of stopping the slaughter of horses in the United States for food export to Europe and testified before Congress with the National Horse Protection Coalition.

With her commitment to animal rights and here love of horses, Bo Derek is well chosen to serve as a watchdog for the much needed protection of horses at the race tracks.


Mind Your Manners And Your Attire At Royal Ascot This Year

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip
at Royal Ascot Races


With the Royal Ascot Races only a month away, the word is out.  It seems things have gotten out of control in the recent past as to what some have chosen to wear to this event and the Queen and her authorities will have none of it.

So, select your outfit carefully.  Visitors to Royal Ascot this June must adhere to a strict dress code if they want to be allowed in.

First, one needs to be reminded that for centuries admission to the Royal Enclosure was a statement of belonging to the social elite.

Traditional morning dress for gentleman has always been mandatory.

Equally suitable formal attire was expected of proper ladies, which, of course, included hats. 

This year, just in case any newcomers were in doubt of how exclusive the honour is, those who transgress the code will be turned away on the orders of Her Majesty’s representative, the Duke of Devonshire.

While gentlemen have not posed a problem, organisers believe that the lines of what is — and what is not — appropriate for ladies have become confused of late.


There will be no strapless dresses,
with hat or without.

There will be no exposure of undue amounts of skin.

In other words, keep it covered.

So, ladies, mind those shoulders,
check the front and the back. 

At Royal Ascot this year,
it will require more than just a hat.


Royal Ascot Website


It Is Time To Say … Enough!


Proud filly, Eight Belles, is euthanized
after break down at Kentucky Derby.


She ran with the heart of a locomotive, on champagne-glass ankles for the pleasure of the crowd, the sheiks, oilmen, entrepreneurs, old money from the thousand-acre farms, the handicappers, men in bad sport coats with crumpled sheets full of betting hieroglyphics, the julep-swillers and the ladies in hats the size of boats, and the rest of the people who make up thoroughbred racing.     Washington Post


Why do we keep giving thoroughbred horse racing a pass? Is it the tradition? 

This isn’t about one death. This is about the nature of a sport that routinely grinds up young horses.

Why do we refuse to put the brutal game of racing in the realm of mistreatment of animals?

Eight Belles was another victim of a brutal sport that is carried, literally, on the backs of horses. Horsemen like to talk about their thoroughbreds and how they were born to run and live to run. The reality is that they are made to run, forced to run for profits they never see.

And who knows how many horses die anonymous deaths?

Eight Belles, we’ll write, was merely the casualty of a brutal game.
New York Times


“Trainer Larry Jones said, ‘She went out in a blaze of glory,’ as he tried to hold back tears from his reddening eyes.

She did not go out in a “blaze of glory.” She went out in hideous pain, unable to understand why her legs gave out when all she was doing was running like hell. She went out in the back of a truck. 
At Large


For beautiful, Eight Belles,
her life had just begun.


It is time to say enough.


Skijoring With Horses


 Nate Bowers of Bowers Farm
Fort Collins, CO


Skijoring, or ski driving, is a winter sport that originates in Scandinavia, where it has been practiced for centuries. Laplander’s skied on Nordic skis holding the reins attached to reindeer.

In the mid 1950’s, skijoring found its way to North America, where ranchers attached a long rope to the saddle horn of a horse that was ridden at high speeds down a long straight-away.

Skijoring with horses usually involves two people and one horse. One person rides the horse while the skier is towed behind. The rider determines the pace and route for the skijoring adventure, while the skier attempts to hold on.

Skijoring involves towing a skier behind horses or dogs. In addition to being a rapid way to get around, it is also a competitive winter sport in some parts of the United States, particularly the Northwest and Midwest.

Especially with horses, skijoring is sometimes classified as an extreme sport because of the high rate of speed and potential danger involved. Skijoring is also a great deal of fun when carried out safely.

Some horse skijoring competitions integrate jumps and extreme skiing maneuvers in addition to conventional skijoring. Horses used for skijoring tend to be extremely agile and quick, and breeds such as the American Quarterhorse are favored for the sport.

Currently, the sport of equestrian skijoring has become a highly specialized competitive sport, where competitors must navigate a course of jumps, gates and sometime spear rings.

Competitive skijoring competitions are currently taking place in over 5 states in the USA, and in several countries worldwide.

In 1999, after several follow-up meetings, the North American Ski Joring Association (NASJA) was developed. For the first time in history, equestrian skijoring became a sanctioned sport!

Video:  Nate Bowers Skijoing at Bowers Farm
Link: Bowers Farm

For some exciting, competitive Skijoring, watch the video of
Skiing in the Streets: Leadville’s Offbeat Winter Sport.

Video: Competitive Skijoring in Leadville.,Colorado

Link: More information on Leadville, Colorado Skijoring

Link:  National Association of Skijoring in America


Camel Racing Comes To Sydney, Australia


Horse racing jockeys experience their first camel race.


Australia’s first outbreak of equine flu this past August saw racing stop across the nation and thousands of recreational horses quarantined on properties to try and stop the flu spreading.

City officials had imposed an indefinite ban on racing, which left racetracks abandoned and losing millions of dollars in revenue and punters desperate to place a bet.

Australia’s horse-racing circuit may have hit a bump after equine influenza paralyzed the pool of steeds this year, but it’s not a hump the industry couldn’t get over.


Pat Farmer encourages his camel
as he rides his mount to a win in the second race.

In October, Sydney hosted its first camel race with contenders such as Sir Hump-a-lot, Sand King and Speed Hump competing to help arenas suffering financially from the ban on horse racing imposed by officials over the equine flu.

The camels were among six beasts that competed in seven races at Sydney’s Harold Park Paceway.

Even though spectators were not able to place bets on the races — camel racing is not recognized by Australia’s premier betting organization TAB — the event expected to attract 10,000 people.


“People haven’t been out and about and they’re just wanting to get out and see something race,” said Harold Park’s food and beverage manager Robert Vine. “I think it’s probably the novelty, something not many people have ever seen in Sydney before.”


Camel racing, which started in Australia more as a tourist attraction than a professional sport, usually takes place on outback racetracks. Australian camel racing jockeys are mostly women, unlike the Middle East, where boy jockeys are the norm, and camels race in sprints, not long distance races.


Cameleer Lionel Keegan stands with one of his charges at Sydney’s first camel race meet

Camels were first brought to Australia from Afghanistan in the early 1800s to help build major railway and telegraph lines in the outback. They were also used extensively for exploration purposes and as a pack animal.

By 1895 the camel population had increased to approximately 6,000 head and today the population is estimated at up to 150,000 animals.

Reuters Photographs

Blind Horse Regains Sight After Laser Surgery




A thoroughbred suffering from blindness caused by glaucoma can now see after Florida doctors performed laser surgery on the horse earlier this year.

The 11-year-old horse, Ego-Trip, was already blind in his left-eye due to a previous trauma.

Owners Lisa and Larry Dahl and their 15-year-old daughter Victoria noticed Ego’s right-eye becoming cloudy as his behavior began to change.

“Ego was bumping into things and not acting the same,” said Lisa Dahl. “We realized he was going totally blind.”

Dr. Franck Ollivier, an ophthalmologist for horses at the Equine Surgi-Care Center in Brandon, Florida examined Ego in March, 2007.

Ego’s right eye was diagnosed with glaucoma, which affects less than 1 percent of horses. Swollen and bulging out of its socket, it was the size of a pingpong ball.

A 1,000-pound blind animal isn’t safe to ride, and caring for him is difficult.

Most are put down.

Instead, veterinary ophthalmologist Franck Ollivier performed laser eye surgery on Ego’s right eye in April.

The surgery relieved pressure caused by fluid build-up from the glaucoma.


The Diode laser used in the surgery was from Florida Veterinary Specialists and CancerTreatmentCenter in Tampa, a state-of-the-art specialty veterinary facility where Dr. Ollivier also practices ophthalmology for pets.

The laser procedure was a first for the Surgi-CareCenter, which has been treating horses from Florida‘s west coast for 13 years at its Bloomingdale Avenue hospital.

Dr. Olliver stated that “Glaucoma is also the number one cause of blindness in people, which is significant.

We treated Ego with a Diode laser to decrease the production of liquid inside the eye, and therefore decrease the pressure. Since then, Ego is now visual and comfortable.”

Ollivier pronounced the surgery a success. Ego has 50 to 60 percent vision in his right eye, and Tori is able to safely ride him again.

“The next day after surgery, Ego returned home was back to acting like his old-self again.” said Lisa.

Ego has since returned to the hospital for a check-up. Ollivier said it was crucial because glaucoma is so rare in horses and there are no clinical studies to predict the outcome.

Ollivier said there’s a chance Ego might need another round of laser treatment in a year or so.

“Hopefully we don’t have to cross that bridge again,” Dahl said.

Ego will never be the race horse or the jumper he once was, but that’s fine with Tori.

The Dahls have been working with Ego, schooling him for a dressage career. “Sight is not as important in dressage as it is for jumping,” says Lisa.

“We’ve been working with him in dressage for about a month and he’s doing great.”

“He was my first horse and probably the only horse I’ll ever have,” she said.

“We’re very thankful.”

Story Link:

John Crandall Riding “Heraldic” Wins Endurance Race, Again!


 Crandall and Heraldic ~ AERC 2007


John Crandell, riding his famed Arabian horse, Heraldic, has just finished and taken First Place in the 2007 AERC National Championship 100 Mile race.

Crandall and Heraldic won this feat in 2006 taking First Place in the AERC that year, as well.

This years event was held in the Owyhee Country of Southern Idaho, which highlighted a 5 day Festival of Endurance in North America. 


Crandall and Heraldic Accept Tevis Cup, 2006


Last year, John Crandell set one of the most astounding records ever accomplished in the history of endurance riding.

Crandall and his brilliant horse, Heraldic, swept wins in all of the top three endurance rides: The Old Dominion,  the Tevis, and the AERC National Championships.

Story Link:  AERC National Championship 2007

Story Link:  Tevis Cup 2006

Barbaro, Secretariat Art to Support Laminitis Research


A new set of prints and a poster featuring Triple Crown winner Secretariat and 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro will benefit the fight against laminitis, the painful hoof disease that ended both their lives.

The works, entitled “Memories of Greatness, were created by equine artist Jaime Corum. They were unveiled the weekend of Aug. 4 and 5 at Saratoga Race Course.

Proceeds will benefit the Laminitis Fund at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s NewBoltonCenter.

The poster shows Secretariat and Barbaro together in one 16- by-20-inch piece, with their names and stables noted.

The print set features the horses separately, along with the artistic marks representing the colors of the silks they carried.

Both the poster and the print sets are available through