This page is designed for equine enthusiasts to come together and read about and share experiences they have had. The love of horses is one that is shared by many people so feel free to comment or just read about other peoples experiences and their favorite equine friend.

About Me

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I have been riding horses for 10 years and I am an active member of the United States Pony Club. I own 3 horses and I am an HB in the Pony Club rating system. I enjoy eventing, dressage, and instructing younger club members but love to do anything dealing with horses. Currently, I am studying animal sciences and hope to use this to increase my knowledge of horses.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Nightmares of Importing

Most horse people look at importing horses as such a luxury that only people with money are able to afford. Unfortunately, the lady I have been training with for 11 years now had a horrible experience with importing a horse from Sweden. She was interested in finding a horse that could compete at the top levels and thought of importing as the best way to make that happen.

She worked with many high class, top of the line trainers and after a trip over to Sweden, she thought she found the perfect one. This trip was a week long trip of looking at horse after horse with these trainers trying to figure out which one would be the perfect fit for her. Apparently, she rode at least five horses everyday and had a very hard time choosing which one she wanted to bring home. But, at the end of the week, she had picked a Swedish warmblood mare named Bella.

So, the process began of getting Bella over to Indiana. Once Kate, my trainer, came back there was still a lengthy process of quarantining Bella over in Sweden for a few weeks and then also quarantining her over here in the States for a few weeks. This time period is just used to reduce the risk of spreading any diseases from Sweden to the United States. This time was very hard for Kate because she was like a big kid and just wanted her "new toy" to be over here so she could play.

That period of waiting was over, and it was finally the day Kate could go pick her up and bring her home. You could feel the excitement in the air around the barn to see this "magnificent, Swedish princess". You could only imagine my dismay when I had to call Kate while she was on her way back with Bella and tell her that she couldn't bring her back. The reason for this was that one of the other horses at the barn had decided to get sick that day and no one really knew what it was. I didn't want to take any chances, so I decided to warn Kate and let her do what she wanted. She didn't want to take any chances either after spending so much money to get her here, so she stopped and waited a couple days before bringing her home.

Bella was amazing! She was so talented and even made Kate learn a thing or two in order to keep up with her training. Whenever Bella was being worked, everyone would drop everything just to watch this horse's way of gracefully gliding over the ground making it look like her feet never touched the ground. After about a year though, everything went wrong.

Bella started coughing a lot when she was worked, so Kate had a few tests done. It turns out, Bella was allergic to almost everything that was around her. This "Swedish princess" turned into a "Swedish pain in the butt". She had to be on a special diet, in a special stall, with special bedding. Unfortunately, things got worse instead of better. The only option was to bring her to Purdue for a surgery that would help her get over the allergies. The operating team knew something wasn't right after the first incision. During surgery, Bella's stomach literally exploded due to excess amount of pressure and she passed away.

This story is not a normal story of how imports normally end, but it does show that things can go wrong no matter how much money or time you put into a horse. Everyone at our barn still looks up to this horse and speaks about her with the utmost respect. She taught everyone alot and needless to say, I don't think Kate will be importing another horse anytime soon.

Start Your Engines...

It is that time of year again. All competitors know the official start of the season has come when entry forms for the spring shows begin to slowly trickle in. This is when the nerves start. Many people who have been showing for a long time now will try to tell you that they don't get nervous, but I am here to tell you everyone gets nervous.

It is around this time when people start making goals for this season and picking and choosing which shows they absolutely have to compete in. It is also the important time to figure out how much money you can really spend on shows, hotels, gas, and equipment. For some people these decisions could include being at a different show every weekend of their summer all across the midwest. Unfortunately, for others, this decision is made easier by only being able to go to one show during the season.

I always would find these decisions hard because I never could decide if I wanted to do a multitude of smaller shows or just pick a few of the bigger shows and travel a little farther to compete. Once every detail of the season is planned out, the real work begins, actually preparing for the shows.

Preparing for a show, suprisingly starts months in advance to make sure everything runs smoothly. First and foremost, you must make sure your horse is fit enough to compete. Most outsiders do not think about this very important step in preparing. You want to make sure your horse is performing his best and therefore, you must condition them for whatever they will be doing at that particular show.

Some of the smaller, but no less important tasks to preparing for a show is making sure you have a hotel if you will be there overnight. Also, you must check over your trailer and tow vehicle to make sure it is in good shape and will actually get you to the show. These minor details might not seem very important, but without these there will be no competition for you or your horse.

At the beginning of the year, you also must make sure your horse is vaccinated and that you have a copy of that record in your vehicle because without it, you might not even be let into the show grounds. When I competed at Championships, one of my teammates did not have her copy and they would not let her onto the show grounds until she had a copy. This required her going to the show office and pulling a copy from the papers she had sent in with the entry. This could have ruined the whole competition for the team before it had even started.

The part of preparing that I personally like the most is packing. When you start packing, you know that the competition is close and is going to happen. Packing can be challenging though, because not only do you have to pack for yourself but you also have to pack for a 1000 pound animal. This means that you have to analyze everything that could possible go wrong and pack for that. After packing, the only thing left to do is to load your horse in the trailer and hit the road.