Lis Hartel, Danish Equestrian Legend, Dies

Lis Hartel

Lis Hartel and Jubilee

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Lis Hartel, an equestrian who won two Olympic silver medals for Denmark in the 1950s despite being paralyzed below the knees because of polio, has recently died, according to the Danish Equestrian Federation. She was 87.

Lis Hartel’s equestrian career was one of true heroism.

Lis Hartel on Jubilee

In 1944, at age 23, Hartel was paralyzed by polio.

She gradually regained use of most of her muscles, although she remained paralyzed below the knees.  Her arms and hands also were affected.

Against medical advice, she continued to ride but needed help to get on and off the horses.

After three years of rehabilitation, she was able to compete in the Scandinavian riding championships.

In 1952, she was chosen to represent Denmark in the Helsinki Olympics.   Prior to this time women were not permitted to compete in the Olympic Equestrian events.

Even though she required help on and off her horse, Jubilee, she won the Olympic Silver Medal.

Lis Hartel and Jubilee
with Gold Medalist, Henri St-Cyr

Following her stunning performance, as Lis was helped down from her horse, a gentleman rushed to her side. It was the Gold medal winner, Henri Saint Cyr. He carried her to the victory platform for the medal presentation.

It was one of the most emotional moments in Olympic history.


Lis Hartel at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.
She became the first woman ever to share
an Olympic podium with men.

In 1954, Lis Hartel won the unofficial World Championships in Aachen, and the Olympic Silver Medal in the 1956 Olympics held in Stockholm. She became the Danish National Dressage Champion seven times.

Lis Hartel was the first Scandinavian woman entered into The International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in New York, and was named one of Denmark’s all-time top 10 athletes in 2005.

In 1992, Hartel was included in the Scandinavian country’s Hall of Fame.

Lis Hartel is widely credited with inspiring the therapeutic riding schools that are now located throughout the world.

Shortly after winning the Olympic medal, Lis Hartel and her therapist founded Europe’s first Therapeutic Riding Center. This soon came to the attention of the medical community and Therapy Riding Centers spread throughout Europe.

By the late 1960’s equine riding was accepted by the America Medical Association as an “invaluable therapeutic tool”.

Today, the spirit of Lis Hartel lives on around the world.


Through her inspiration countless handicapped children and adults have become heroes in their own lives
through their work with horses.

~~~

Re-written from news sources

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Graceland To Be Home For Rescued Horses Adopted By Priscilla Presley

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Rescued Horse, Max

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To keep the spirit alive as it was in Elvis’ time, there will always be horses at Graceland.

Max arrived at the estate Jan. 10 — two days after what would have been Elvis Presley’s 73rd birthday.

He will never be able to thank Priscilla Presley for adopting him and giving him a new home.  She also adopted his brother, Merlin, who will arrive at Graceland in the spring.

Max will never be able to thank Carol-Terese Naser of Palermo, Maine for saving his life.

Then again, Max is a 3-year-old bay horse.

It all began like this:

Max and his brother, Merlin, a magnificent chocolate-colored creature, were scheduled to be slaughtered — along with four other horses in their family in Quebec — last summer.

Naser, who has had horses of her own since she was a child, stepped into action and rescued all six horses with just days to spare.

“If we hadn’t done this when we did, they’d all be long gone,” said Naser.

Naser and her friend Cathy Cleaveland found out soon enough that it wasn’t easy — or cheap — to care for six horses.  So they decided to start fundraising.

“We sent T-shirts to celebrities we knew were passionate about animals,” Cleaveland said. “We requested they autograph the shirt, then send it back. We were going to auction them.”

Country crooner Alan Jackson, former Catwoman Julie Newmar and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” host Ty Pennington, among others, signed and sent back the shirts for auction, Naser said.

And then came a phone call  from Priscilla Presley that would change Max’s and Merlin’s lives.

An animal lover, Presley told the women she wanted to adopt Max and Merlin to give them a permanent home at Graceland, the nearly 14-acre spread, 23-room mansion in Memphis that Elvis shared with Priscilla and their daughter.

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Graceland

“I have always had a bond with horses,” Presley said in a telephone interview. “Elvis gave me my very first horse. It was the horses that made Graceland home to us.”

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Presley, who called herself “the kid who had to rescue all the animals” growing up, said that when she received the T-shirt from Naser and Cleaveland, the story of the near-slaughter struck her.

“It haunted me,” Presley said. “I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to do that.”

Presley, who called Naser’s saving act “an unbelievable labor of love,” said it is her desire to educate people about horse slaughter, including spreading the word to permanently ban the practice.

“Max and Merlin are a symbol of horses who escaped the slaughter,” she said.

They will live out their lives at Graceland for all to know the value of horses in our lives.

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Elvis Presley bought his first horses in 1966.  The first horses to come to Graceland were Christmas gifts for Priscilla and some of Elvis’ friends. They were Tennessee Walkers.

Elvis soon bought more horses – and then trucks and trailers – for his friends and bodyguards.

Priscilla remembers playfully, “It didn’t matter if you wanted one or not, you were getting a horse!”

The stable at Graceland was called “House of the Rising Sun” after Elvis’ own horse, a Quarter horse.

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Elvis on Rising Sun

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Ebony’s Double ~ Tenneessee Walker
Priscilla Presley’s Horse

Elvis sought solace in his land and his horses. Priscilla recalls, “In the morning right after breakfast he was out riding.”

The year 2007 marked the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death.  The sound of hoofbeats has never faded from his home.

Graceland now includes the beauty of two rescued horses.

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News Link: 

Rancher On Horseback Finishes Ride Across America

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Bill Inman atop his horse Blackie
as riders in Hendersonville, N.C. welcome him

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January 13, 2008

 An Oregon rancher who set off on a cross-country horseback ride seven months ago in search of what’s good in America dismounted Sunday, feeling encouraged by the spirit and stories of the people he met.

Bill Inman began his journey June 2 because he felt distress over how the country was being portrayed in news coverage and on TV shows. He rode his 16-year-old thoroughbred-quarter horse Blackie.

His wife, Brenda, and a four-person support crew joined him on the trip through eight states.

Along the way, Inman collected stories of hardworking, honest everyday people in rural America.

His cross cross-country trek was dubbedUncovering America by Horseback, a website that noted his experiences, including videos.

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The scenery in America is changing and I’m really proud we took snapshots at slow motion of this time period because 20 years from now it will be different,” he said.

Inman talks about the retired rancher in Idaho who he considers “a true image of America with his honesty and hospitality,” or people he’s met working multiple jobs to make ends meet, or another Idaho rancher e-mailing the progress of the journey to his son in Iraq.

“There is nothing like riding across the nation to learn about the people of this country,” he said.

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Among the people he met was a Wyoming deputy sheriff who drove 25 miles through a thunderstorm to bring dinner to him and his wife, and all 17 people of a Colorado town who came out to see him ride off.

An Idaho state trooper paid him $20 for the chance to sit on top of Blackie, he said.

“Sometimes, I was more intrigued by the stories they were telling than the stories I was telling,” Inman said.

Inman finished his trip riding into the southwestern North Carolina town under overcast skies. A crowd of more than 100 people greeted Inman as he ended the journey.

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Crossing the plains of Kansas

“I don’t know if that’s really sunk in yet. It may take me two or three days to think it’s over,” Inman said in a telephone interview.

Inman ticked off a list of what’s been bad about the trip — temperatures ranging from 108 degrees to freezing, pesky insects, water shortages, crossing mountains and desert and riding in a lightning storm. People aren’t on the list.

“I haven’t run into any bad people,” he said.

Inman bought Blackie in 2001. The two have clearly bonded.

“I know his capabilities and I know his flaws and I think he can say the same thing for me,” he said.  “Now if you think we’re constantly kissing buddies, I don’t think so.

Do I brag about him a lot? Yeah.”

~~~

Re-written from news sources:

Spare The Horses

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Christine Hajek, founder of Gentle Giants
Draft Horse Rescue, gets a nuzzle from Jonas.

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Christine Hajek fell in love with her first draft horse when she met Elijah, a Belgian gelding, at an auction in August 2001 and brought him home.

But Hajek, who grew up on a horse-breeding farm, had been mesmerized by the huge horses raised for plowing and farm labor ever since she rode one years earlier.

“I loved the gait, I loved the size and I loved the feel,” said Hajek, 34, who is an Anne Arundel County firefighter. “They’re so broad across the back that they give you a real sense of security. They move slowly. Anything they do is kind of in slow motion.”

It was Elijah that gave her the idea to form Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue, a nonprofit operation specifically tailored to draft horses — and turn a hobby into an obsession.

“He ended up being a perfect horse — totally flawless in every way,” she said.

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That one horse has turned into 21 at the 42-acre Woodbine farm in Mount Airy, Maryland where she lives with her husband, Jamie McIntosh.

Hajek estimates that she and her husband have rescued more than 60 draft horses since then — most of them within the past two years.

“They work hard, they’ve seen everything, so they’re not afraid of anything,” she said.

Once she brings horses home, she spends an average of two months with them before they are adopted.

“I might be sad for a couple days, and I might cry really hard when I drop them off,” she said. “But mostly, I’m happy for them.”

The horses she’s rescued are now scattered around the United States, with adoptees in California, New York, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, she said.

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Recently, Dick Dodson, 72, from Boyds, who recently took up riding again after a 20-year hiatus, visited Hajek’s farm to meet a horse named Texas that he’d seen on the Gentle Giants Web site.

“The attraction for the drafts is that they’re very calm, they’re sure-footed, and they don’t spook easily,” he said. “I want something that’s bomb-proof. I don’t want to get hurt on a horse.”

He was drawn to Texas because of the chocolate-colored Belgian’s background as a carriage horse that had done some plowing for an Amish farmer.

“I might ride that horse bareback,” Dodson said. “This horse has a very gentle disposition.”

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The Gentle Giants dog, Bug, hangs out at Tristan’s feet.

Not only can people adopt horses from Hajek; they can also ride. She caters mostly to adults and a few children of adults who ride there.

Saving draft horses is a passion that costs her money, she acknowledges. She only wishes she could save more.

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“I’m passionate about draft horses,” Hajek said. “The bigger the better.

I just want everyone to know how incredible they are.”

~~~

Link: Gentle Giants Rescue

When It Comes To Raising Clydesdales … Age Doesn’t Matter

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 Norm Wilke is proud of his girls.

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“It’s a hobby,” said Norm, who is 75 years old.

He keeps the Clydesdale mares in a stable near his Bargain Barn warehouse in Shiloh, Missouri.

He has raised Clydesdales for the past 17 years. Two mares, “Ruby” and “Babe”, stay at the Bargain Barn.

“Dawn” grazes near his farmhouse off Illinois 161 in Belleville. All three are pregnant and should deliver their foals in early spring. Norm plans to keep these three foals.

“I’d like to raise a few babies again.”

Most are dark brown (bay) with black manes, a white blaze on the forehead and white feet.

“They call those white stockings,” said Norm who grew up in St. Libory and has been around horses all his life.

Norm was asked about the gentle giant draft horses, famed mascots of Anheuser-Busch.

“People from Anheuser-Busch came out to look at it. The width of the white blaze was just right and so were the length of the stockings.”

Being chosen is also referred to as “making the hitch.” The foal’s father is from a Clydesdale farm in Springfield.

Norm was asked how he started raising Clydesdales and how did he drive them.

“I’ve always liked horsin’ around. When I was about 60, I thought it was time for retirement, time to try something new.

I went to an auction and got my first team of draft horses in Columbia, Missouri. They were both females and easy to train.”

Norm uses reins to guide the horses. Usually three are in a line. The middle horse has to be adaptable, able to turn by side-stepping, “To be good, they have to be ground-stompers and pick up their feet and hold themselves up and look proud.”

He drives them in local parades, most recently Mascoutah’s homecoming.

The reporter continued to ask Norm about his his pride and joy … his Clydesdales.

Do you have a favorite horse?
“”Dawn” had a foal this spring that qualified to make the team of Clydesdales at Anheuser-Busch.”

How much do they eat?
“They each eat a gallon and a half of grain a day and go through two-thirds of a bale of hay a day,” said Norm. “I have to keep the trough full because they can drink three to four gallons at a time.”

How big are Clydesdales at birth and how long do they usually live?
“Babies are about 3 feet tall at birth and weigh 125 pounds. Adult Clydesdales are 6 feet tall at the shoulder and usually weigh between 1,600 and 2,200 pounds. Most Clydesdales live to 20-25 years of age.

“Most of the babies are born late at night. I stay up with them, but if I leave for awhile, that’s usually when they have them.”

When can people visit the horses?
 “They can come by anytime we’re open,” said Norm. Sometimes people come by after we’re closed but the horses are still out.” Visitors may pet them but are not allowed to feed them.

Norm is proud to still be enjoying the Clydesdales.
He plans to continue, regardless of his age.

Draft Horses Make Dream Come True

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Amos and Andy

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At 82 years old, you might think that “Harry,” a resident at ManorCare Health Services – Lebanon, Pennsylvania, might want to spend his time relaxing. 

After farming until he was 24, and eventually retiring from a local macaroni factory, Harry had done his share of hard work. 

But when asked what his Heart’s Desire was, he thought back to those simpler days when he was working the farm with horses, mules and single tractor. 

He told the staff at ManorCare that he would once again like to drive a team of mules. The staff at ManorCare worked with a local farmer and an Amish driver to arrange a wagon. 

But instead of mules, they arranged for two black Percheron draft horses named Amos and Andy. 

According to Harry, that was okay because horses were easier to drive than mules, and he remembers that sometimes mules would run away from him and he would end up just “holding on.” 

With the help of a step stool, Harry climbed into the wagon and took a 15-minute lap around the farm, and then returned to pick up some friends from ManorCare and several reporters for the second lap.  

He reminisced about growing corn, oats, wheat and barley when he was younger, and kept the gentle giants Amos and Andy, who stood 17 hands high, under control. 

According to ManorCare Lebanon‘s admissions director, the event was a wonderful example of how the residents at ManorCare, and nursing homes around the country, still get a kick out of reliving simple pleasures. 

The staff looks forward to fulfilling more wishes in the near future. 

ManorCare Heart’s Desire

Archie, The Loveable Newfoundland ~ Update

Archie Has Successful Surgery

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Archie, a Newfoundland, provides smiles and laughter to children at Casa Pacifica, a Ventura County, California oasis for abused, neglected and emotionally disturbed children.

But this therapy dog recently needed help of his own. He needed an expensive surgery from an injury sustained while playing with another dog. But the non-profit organization did not have any funds for Archie’s surgery.

News got out about Archie’s need for surgery and donations flooded Casa Pacifica. They received $6,000 in donations and even received donations from the UK. Even a student at Casa Pacifica’s school saved $5 in pennies to help pay for Archie’s surgery.

When Archie sustained something similar to an ACL injury in a human, newspapers and television stations ran stories, and donations started coming in to Casa Pacifica. The Associated Press picked up Archie’s story, and it was soon appearing nationwide.

“We’ve met probably 150 new people we never heard from before,” said Vicky Murphy, Archie’s caretaker and director of operations and development for Casa Pacifica.

“There are messages on a Newfoundland blog, and other dogs write to him. It’s adorable. They all talk about the kids and all the work he does to take care of the kids.”

Archie has received 60 pieces of fan mail in a single day

Veterinarians recently performed surgery on Archie. The beloved dog will need six to eight weeks of rest before he’ll be able to use both legs again, and three to four months for a full recovery.

Then Archie should be back at Casa Pacifica to bring smiles to the children and give them some big hugs.

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If you’ve not heard about Archie, be sure to read this earlier post “Archie … Almost A Pony“.

~~~

Link: Archie’s Website

Link: News Report

Many Ways To Enjoy A Shire

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Heinz Donates Horse Hitch To Arlington Cemetery

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The eight Percheron horses will be used to pay homage to fallen soldiers in ceremonies.

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The H. J. Heinz Company announced today that it has donated the eight Percheron horses formerly used as part of the Heinz Hitch program to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) where they will be used to pay homage to fallen soldiers in the ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.

This donation will ensure that the horses are well cared for the rest of their lives while honoring our country’s fallen soldiers and veterans,” said Michael Mullen, Director of Global Corporate Affairs for the H. J. Heinz Company.

The Heinz horses will participate in some of the eight full-honor military funerals per day at Arlington.

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The new posts also have their perks. Each of the eight Percheron horses will a have full-time, dedicated caretaker and veterinarian and they will join the more than 50 horses already stationed at Fort Myer, VA.

“It’s fitting that our country’s finest will be carried to rest by such a noble breed of horses, the same that once carried knights into battle,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jeremy Light, Caisson Platoon leader with The Old Guard. “We’re truly grateful for Heinz’s unique gift.”

The Percherons will be members of the Caisson Platoon of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), which is the United States Army’s official ceremonial unit.

During a funeral procession, six horses form a team that pulls a flag-draped coffin upon a caisson throughout Arlington National Cemetery.

Historic Hooves
The eight Percheron horses are more than up to this task, generating more than 16,000 pounds of raw horsepower. On several occasions, they’ve been known to pull a 30,000-pound Rose Parade float with no complaints.

Originally from the Perche region of France, Percherons are the only line of heavy horses not originally bred as draft horses. The horses first appeared more than 1,000 years ago and are a cross between Arabian Stallions and Flemish Plow Mares.

They were bred specifically to blend power, agility and speed. These attributes made the Percherons favored horses for carrying knights confidently into battle.

Today, Percherons are enjoying a renewed popularity among horsemen for their gentle nature, power and control.

Regal Relic Retired
Heinz discontinued the traveling Heinz Hitch program in early 2006 as it switched its focus to more contemporary consumer marketing. In July, the Heinz Hitch wagon, a replica of a historic 1800s-era horse-drawn grocery cart, was donated to the Senator John Heinz History Center, and is currently on long-term display in the Center’s first-floor Great Hall.

The Hitch was showcased at parades, fairs and expositions throughout the United States and Canada, including high-profile events like the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Major League Baseball’s Opening Day Parade.

It is with a great sense of pride for all of American as these eight Percherons assume their Duty with the Department of the Army to pay tribute to our country’s heroes.

Earlier Post:  Famed Heinz Hitch Now History

Julie Suhr – 76 yr. Old Endurance Rider

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Julie Suhr just turned 76. She lives in Scott’s Valley near Santa Cruz, California. For over thirty years, she has ridden in cross county endurance races of 30, 50, and 100 miles each. Starting in 1968, Julie began riding the coveted 100-mile, one-day Tevis Cup race.

She has started the race 28 times and finished 22, with three Haggin Cup wins, the award given to the horse among the top ten finishers, which is judged to be in the best condition to continue.

Julie says that her ability to still ride long distances is directly attributed to good health, and a supportive husband.

Julie says there are some changes she has noticed from a lifetime of riding, and some things to keep in mind when “riding into your 70’s”. First, “polish up your sense of humor”. The thing that does not change with age is the thrill of a good ride on a good horse”.

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She admits that the confidence she used to take for granted is tempered by the reality of knowing that if she goes off she could break a hip. She knows her reflex actions and balance are nowhere near as sharp and quick as they once were.

She feels that if you are going to continue to compete, the selection of endurance prospects is reduced. She now likes to buy a horse keeping the 6 “S’s” in mind; Safe, Sane, Short (14.2 or 3 at most), Smooth, Sound and Sure-Footed.

She has noticed some other changes brought on by the years. She is more sensitive to hunger and thirst. Julie says that she rode her first Tevis Ride (over 30 years ago) with “not a single drop of liquid or food.” She now carries four water bottles on her saddle.

Her most important addition to her riding gear is her survival fanny pack, which she wears around her waist. “This is my security blanket. It goes where I go.”

In case of a fall off her horse, she will have on her body:

A space blanket.
Band-aids.
A glowstick to fend off wild animals, or to attract attention.
A knife with an easy-to-open blade.
A small leatherman tool that has many uses.
Some waterproof matches.
A couple of leather thongs for quick repairs.
Some benadryl in case of attack by killer bees.
A few Advil in case of pain.
A short, small pencil with a tiny notepad. She says the point always breaks the first time you put it in your pack, but no problem, you can sharpen it with your knife.
Lastly, a lipstick, “Because you never know who you are going to run into out there.”

Julie also says that her thermostat no longer works as well as it used to. “I am much more apt to be too cold or too hot than in previous years.

She likes Polar fleece that zips up the front so that you can get it off and on without removing your helmet, and is easy to tie around your mid-section with just one loop while riding.

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Julie is sure that “the two discoveries that have meant the most to mankind are not the discovery of fire or the invention of the wheel. They are polar fleece and Velcro.”

She has also switched from an English to an endurance type saddle that has a deeper seat and a rounded pommel in the front to give her more support.

Julie continues to go to at least one endurance ride a month, and is often accompanied by her husband and trail companion, Bob, who rode his first endurance ride, the Tevis, at the age of 58. He rode his last 50 miler at age 84.

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Julie Suhr crossed the finish line of the 2007 Shine and Shine Only Endurance ride, for her 30,000th mile of Endurance competition.

Now, that is called … inspiration!

Link:  “Ten Feet Tall, Still” by Julie Suhr

Discover the world of endurance riding:  This engaging true story is not for horse lovers alone, but for all ages and all walks of life who have ever had dreams.

Link:   Tevis Cup ~ Earlier Post