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The Center Line by Caroline Larrouilh

The Center Line by Caroline Larrouilh

There is a clear line bisecting the arena. On one side are Four Schools, and hundreds of years of training, which has led to a number of training approaches that all have at the core a share appreciation for the horse as an individual, a desire to foster a harmonious relationship and develop him putting his welfare and emotional, physical and mental well being first.

The connection between horse and rider is considered artful. It enriches the rider AND the horse.

On the other side: Competitive Hyperflexion – one single school also know under the name: Rollkur and more recently LDR. A short history but a controversial one. Believes the good dressage horses have to perform on the Edge. The Edge of what? Insanity? Nervous breakdown? Lives by the maxim:

Dressage is a difficult sport. It is not a matter of IF but WHEN a dressage horse will be lame.

Believes injections, lameness and surgery are part and parcel of the dressage experience. Puts submission, first. Brilliance at the cost of the horse’s nervous central system, first. Puts showing first and enriches the rider but not the horse.

On our side, because there are different schools and sub-schools, egotists fight with each other to establish THEIR ways superiority.

On the other side, there is only one school and they are all busy taking over dressage, rewriting the rules and making fun at our side. They only have one egotist and they all follow him enthusiastically: He wins them gold.

We have to support each other to succeed, we have to look beyond politics and ego and find the common ground and stand on it firmly. We should extend the same curtesy to one another as we do our horses. We should be in and out of the barn, with horses and with humans equally gracious in debate or in agreement.

And we have to judge people on their body of work and actions, their commitment and the choices they make every day, and have for years.

As long as all the little chiefs fight to be bigger than the next chief over, as long as treaties and alliances are just hot air and last the time of a photo opp, Dressage will remain an endangered species.

I ask the representatives of our side of the Line not to call each other friend lightly but build relationships, work together, learn FROM each other and in doing so make our side stronger, make our side the only choice, if you want your horse sound and happy into its old age. If you want your riding to be more meaningful then a pilate session on steroid. If your horse is your friend first, and a vehicle for your ambitions second.

Support the people who are on our side, on your side even if you do not agree with all of their message, if their message is grounded into sound biomechanics and respect for the horse then a bridge can be built on what matters most: the horse.

If your particular little chief engages in battle, refuse to follow and remind them that united we stand, and divided we fall. And fall and fall. Put the horse first.

The Center Line is being squeezed more and more to the side and we are loosing ground. We have lost ground. How long before we are out of the Arena completely? Irrelevant and obsolete. And then what? Will we just wring our hands some more?

I expect more from the horsemen and women I choose to learn from. I expect the intelligence to know that without a coalition and a joining of forces, horses are doomed to be turned in mechanics. If adults do not start behaving as such then between Competitive Hyperflexion and Nouveau Horsemanship du Jour, traditional dressage, traditional horsemanship will keep gasping and eventually die.

Less lip service and more actions and we may make a difference yet. I certainly hope so.

Support Article 401. Respect the Rules. Protect the Horses.

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Courtney King-Dye and the Lesson of Groundlessness

Courtney King-Dye and the Lesson of Groundlessness

Superstar dressage riders don’t often wear helmets. I don’t know, but I am guessing that Courtney King-Dye was not wearing one while training the young horse who tripped and caused her to hit her head.

This is not a wear your helmet diatribe. I wish it could be, but there have been enough “message” posts here for a while. I guess this is as much a self-reminder post as anything. I find that if I write something down, I tend to remember it, to consider it for a while.

The illusion that a skilled dressage rider will not fall, would not be injured in a fall, is just that. An illusion, created by the human mind. We actively push away the chaos that is the world we live in. Our inner lives are often crazed efforts to bring order to random possibility even when the order is a figment of our perception or ends up as a poor or self-destructive coping mechanism.

Bad riding habits don’t develop for no reason. These coping mechanisms, habits, develop as responses to our interactions with our horses in the saddle. Unconsciously, we deal with what we are given. That’s how we end up with one stirrup that’s two inches longer than the other.

Likewise, bad mental habits don’t develop for no reason. The Parelli insanity of choosing to go helmetless because their horses are trained to a point where they feel secure without helmets is a case in point, similar to the illusion that may have caused Ms. King-Dye to ride the young horse without one, if indeed that’s what she did.

We cannot create order. As I wrote in Embracing Groundlessness,

Things happen. The world is a seemingly chaotic place. We can never predict. All the planning in the world can never indemnify us from the unsecured dog, the friend who turns on us, the reality of life with 1000+ pound equine partners.

Courtney and her dogs, from

The purpose of this post is a reminder.

Hello Groundlessness! Let’s make friends. I respectfully acknowledge you. I will wear a helmet out of respect for you. In return, I hope and ask that you acknowledge me.

Over at Regarding Horses, there is a great post with lots of details and links to the SUCCEED eBay Store, where purchases go toward the shocking medical expenses, and Facebook Page where you can show your support.

Having personal experience with head trauma and coma, I know how hard this is. The love actually helps. Show it!

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We Love Lucy

We Love Lucy from Brian Reid & Brenda Lee on Vimeo.

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PSA: Danger of Cocoa Mulch

Jane Pritchard
Public Health Veterinarian
BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
1767 Angus Campbell Road
Abbotsford, BC. V3G 2M3
(604) 556-3066

Dear readers: please tell every dog owner you know. Even if you don’t have a pet, please pass this to those who do.

Over the weekend the doting owners of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in the garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep pests away. Their dog Calypso decided that the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times, which was typical after eating something new, but wasn’t acting lethargic in any way. The next day, Mom woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk. Halfway through the walk, Calypso had a seizure and died instantly.

Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company’s website, this product is labeled as HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats.

Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey’s, and they claim that

It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won’t eat it.

Visit the article.

Cocoa Mulch, which is also sold by Home Depot, Foreman’s Garden Supply and other garden supply stores, contains a poisonous ingredient called Theobromine. It is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths have occurred in the last 2-3 weeks. Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker’s chocolate, which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effect to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.

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In Case You Should Require Another Credit Card

In Case You Should Require Another Credit Card

This credit card helps fund equine research!

In this economy, the last thing I want is another credit card. In fact, I rarely use the one I have, and I consider myself lucky that I am able to pay the balance in full each month. If it didn’t negatively impact my credit rating, however, I would scrap my existing card for this one. I wonder about balance transfers, etc. It would be worth having, knowing that I might be contributing to this valuable resource.


The Horseman’s Card, a Visa created in 1991 to help support the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center in Lexington, Ky., contributes to equine research with every purchase.

The University of Kentucky’s Department of Veterinary Science created the Gluck Center in 1987. One of only three centers in the world dedicated exclusively to researching the diseases and physiological problems of the horse, the Gluck Center’s scientific findings benefit people as well, including investigations into arthritis, aging and immune response, and bacterial and viral infections.

In addition to supporting the health of the horse, this program offers savings on merchandise and services chosen especially for equestrians. Here’s how it works: when you use the Horseman’s Card, mention the Horseman’s VIP Benefits discount, and automatically receive savings from nationally recognized equestrian retailers.

Every time you use the Horseman’s Card for a purchase, a contribution is made to the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center. On the website, they don’t happen to mention what percentage of your purchase goes toward to Gluck Center’s research.  I think this is important to find out before applying. 

Researchers at the Gluck Center

Researchers at the Gluck Center

A fascinating array of research projects is under way at the Gluck Center.
They include work on:
• Equine herpes virus type 1
• Streptococcus equi, Streptococcus zooepidemicus and Leptospira interrogans (vital to humans as well)
• Development of the horse gene map and DNA sequence
• Molecular epidemiology and pathogenesis of equine arteritis virus (EAV) infection of horses, development of improved recombinant vaccines to prevent infection of horses; and improved tests to diagnose the infection.
• International Reference Laboratory for equine influenza
• Studies of Equine Infectious Anemia Virus (EIAV) a lenti-virus closely related to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that has the capability to infect all members of the horse family. Currently working with a group at the Irish Equine Center on the molecular characterization of the strain responsible for the recent outbreak of this virus in Ireland. When completed, this will provide valuable information about the variability of this virus at the global level and so aid in the design of potential therapeutic agents. (This work could have cross-over implications for humans)
• Clinical research involving bio-security and equine infectious diseases
• Identification and characterization of equine cytokines and their role in protective and pathologic immune responses in the foal’s immune system deficit and identifying the ways to increase foal resistance to Rhodococcus and other infectious agents. Identifying methods to improve the immune function in geriatric horses.
• Molecular studies of the Coccidia, which are a very significant group of protozoa. The title of our federal project (Hatch) is: Molecular mechanisms, ecology, and control of natural infections of equids and ruminants by drug-resistant internal parasites and pathogens that include the human parasite Toxoplasma gondii and the domestic animal parasites Neospora spp., Eimeria spp., and Sarcocystis spp. (again, human benefits are possible)
• Equine infectious anemia — identifying protective immune mechanisms in attempts to define effective vaccines for EIA. Developing better testing policies.
• Federal project : Molecular mechanisms, ecology, and control of natural infections of equids and ruminants by drug-resistant internal parasites.
• Biomedical research on articular cartilage primarily focused on the cell biology of chondrocytes and pathogenesis of osteoarthritis.
• Two ongoing studies addressing problems of endophyte infected fescue in horses. The first study involves looking at non-invasive methods to determine which mares in a herd are adversely affected by the fescue so proper treatment can be initiated before major health problems arise. The second study is investigating potential adverse health effects in pregnant mares grazing pastures that have been treated with some of the herbicides that are frequently used kill fescue in pastures.
• Bacterial infections of the horse with emphasis on diseases caused by the pathogenic streptococci and leptospira.
• Equine arteritis virus and the disease, equine viral arteritis.

That’s a lot of valuable research. If you’re looking for a new card, it is worth checking this one out. Benefiting our equine friends with every transaction has great merit.

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