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1st Quarter 2024


TABLE OF CONTENTS

MEMBER PROFILE: Abi Rowlands (V0065)

AROUND THE WATER TROUGH

HEALTH & WELLNESS SECTION

TRAINING & ENRICHMENT TIPS

BARN HACKS, TIPS & TRICKS



MEMBER PROFILE: ABI ROWLANDS



 




BRABANT BULLETIN PODCAST

Not much of a reader? No problem! You can now listen to the EBRA newsletter in the form of a podcast. Simply search for the Brabant Bulletin in your preferred podcast app or click HERE. We are revisiting great content from previous newsletters and recording new pieces too. Don't miss out - SUBSCRIBE NOW!


 

IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN!

The EBRA Membership runs from January 1 thru December 31st, so if you are not on the auto-renew option it's time to re-up!




 

EBRA VIRTUAL HORSE SHOW JUDGING & RESULTS

In 2023, the EBRA hosted its first-ever virtual horse show, which was presided over by the incredible Monique Beullens of Belgium. We had 30 horses exhibited by handlers from across the USA and Canada. The first video below is the full show with judge's commentary and the second video showcases the Halter Class results.


VIDEO 1: FULL SHOW RECORDING


VIDEO 2: HALTER CLASS RESULTS


CAST YOUR VOTE!

The EBRA intends to host more virtual shows to include other disciplines and classes, so be sure to tell us what you want using the poll below!


Which class would you like to have for the 2024 Virtual Horse Show?

  • Western Showmanship

  • Traditional Yarn & Raffia

  • Hunter Flat & Jumper Classes

  • Hitch Classes: Single, Team, Tandem, Unicorn, 4, 6 & 8


A JUDGE'S PERSPECTIVE

In case you missed it, VFBT Judge and EBRA Evaluation Committee Member, Monique Buellens, shared her views on the European Brabant breed standard in a seven-part video series. She provides her perspective as a judge and explains what she's looking for when judging and evaluating horses in the show ring. Members can click HERE to tune in.

 


EXHIBITING, ENTERTAINING, & EDUCATING

In 2022, the EBRA launched the Ambassador Program. Since then, owners and enthusiast have been sharing the breed at shows, exhibitions, fairs, youth programs, church groups, holiday parades, trail rides, wagon trains, and more! Over the last two years, the program has grown and we hope you will consider joining the fun too! Here is just a snippet of what our Ambassadors were up to in 2023.

 

DRAFTY DRESSAGE! Olga Pushkareva (V0007) of OT Farms in Missouri exhibited her two purebred stallions, Indy and Turtle, in-hand at the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) (Region 4) shows and placed in their respective classes. That's right, dressage. Even draft horses have natural athletic ability and we all know the European Brabant is always willing to work - the hallmarks of any great dressage horse. The USDF competitions are regulated by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and are judged by licensed USEF and International Federation for Equestrian Sport (FEI). As Turtle and Indy continue their upward climb in dressage, let's be sure to keep an eye out for them, and other European Brabants, competing at national and international dressage events in years to come! Check out the OT Farms website and be sure to follow Turtle on Facebook.

 

AND ACTION! The LowCountry Acres Team (V0003) from South Carolina includes Everette, Terry & Brayson Dantzler, Hayden & Nick Rodriguez, and Stacy Pearsall. Together they participated in local shows, sharing information about the breed to people who've never seen a European Brabant in person. During the filming of Stacy's nationally television PBS series, After Action, guests and crews were provided tours of the farm and interacted with her herd, while being recorded for the show. After Action will debut in May 2024, so keep your eyes peeled for European Brabants on your television set! Follow the LowCountry Acres team on Facebook and Instagram.

 

JUMP AROUND! While Jack Creek Farms is located in Georgia, their EBRA Ambassador, Maura (Gunter) Freshour (V0005), hails from Minnesota. Up North, she and her European Brabant mare, Peaches, have been training hard and showing in local and regional Hunter/Jumper Show Classes. While unorthodox in the showjumping community, Maura and Peaches are welcomed, celebrated and encouraged by their light-horse peers and certainly do make an incredible team. Attendees flock to see Peaches up close and are eager to learn "what she is!" In addition to her debut show career, Peaches has been exhibited at the Minnesota State Fair "Aisle of Breeds." Follow Peaches on Instagram by clicking HERE.

 

ON A MISSION! Out of Pennsylvania, All the King's Horses' (V0001) power-couple Dehan and Rebecca Courtney, along with their son, Elwynn, shared a few of their European Brabants with visitors from around the WORLD at a nearby Missions Conference. That's not all, they've been busy showcasing their herd at local trail challenges, parades, and other equine events. They're not just showcasing their horses in person, they're busy sharing the breed with folks online too. They're active on their blog, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram pages. Check them out!

 

DO IT ALL! Celeste Brucklacher of Laurel Mountain Farm (V0024) in Pennsylvania took her European Brabant mares, Luna and Nyx, to a number of local shows and competed in in-hand, saddle, and harness classes - showcasing the versatility of the breed. Outside the show ring, Celeste hit the trails with Luna alongside their light-horse companions thereby demonstrating that European Brabants are so much more than plow horses. They do it all! If you're attending the Pennsyvania State Farm Show, be sure to swing by and say hi to Luna and Nyx in person. You can also follow them on Facebook HERE.

 

FAIR GAME! Austin Mantz (V0027) took his European Brabants to the 147th Troy Fair Draft Horse Show in Pennsylvania. His stallion, TF Red Chief, stood out from the crowd of Clydesdales and American Belgians with his dazzlingly shiny red roan coat and proud expression. After much fanfare in the halter classes, Austin saddled up his European Brabant mare for some saddle equitation and showmanship fun. We're sure looking forward to seeing more of Austin and his equine partners strutting their stuff in the arena in 2024. You can also follow TF Red Chief on Facebook HERE.

 


 


EBRA TO SUPPORT OWNERS OUTSIDE NORTH AMERICA

Many countries do not have dedicated European Brabant breed societies and/or registries and after receiving several inquiries and requests from horse owners outside North America in such circumstances, the European Brabant Registry of America's Board of Directors debated the issue and voted to support owners and breeders who reside in countries without European Brabant breed societies or registries of their own. Therefor, effective immediately, the EBRA will be accepting applications for registration of qualified horses with European Brabant heritage from outside North America. Click HERE for EBRA registration guidelines.

 

“From the start, our mission has been to preserve and promote the European Brabant,” explains EBRA President Stacy Pearsall. “After much consideration, we [BOD] believe supporting owners outside North America, who have no alternatives, aligns with our core mission. The EBRA is not in competition with any of the established breed societies from which these horses originate, nor do we intend to be moving forward. Our registration efforts will remain primarily focused within the United States and Canada. Our only intent in supporting breeders and owners outside North America is to provide continued pedigree verification and certification until such time as they establish a breed society or registry within their own countries. Given the EBRA is a recently established registry, the BOD and volunteers are informed and ready to share their own experiences with others who are interested in creating similar studbooks within their borders.”

 

The EBRA is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization in the United States. It was founded by owners of imported European Brabant and Ardennes horses in North America who recognized a need for a place where owners could register and trace purebred horses. The EBRA promotes a friendly, welcoming, inclusive environment where owners and enthusiasts worldwide may share their passion for the European Brabant breed, while also preserving and safeguarding their historic bloodlines.

 

To find out if your horse qualifies for registration with the EBRA, visit www.europeanbrabant.com or email registrar@europeanbrabant.com.



 


YES, WE NEED YOU!

The EBRA runs off the power of volunteerism and we need you! There are lots of opportunities to help support us from joining a committee to running for Directorship. Below is a list of Committees to choose from:

  • Fundraising Committee: The role of the fundraising committee is to develop fundraising programs, identify corporate sponsors, seek private contributions and host fundraising events.

  • Health Committee: The role of the Health Committee is to provide clinical guidance and support for any existing or potential health issues which affect or may impact the breed.

  • Nomination and Election Committee: The role of the nominating committee includes reviewing the Member base to identify qualified nominees, engage those individuals regarding the opportunity to run, and provide the Board of Directors with a list of qualified/willing nominees.

  • Breed Standard Evaluation Committee: The purpose of the Breed Standard Evaluation Committee is to maintain qualified, independent, three-person evaluation team and ensure they are offered Breed Standard training, keep training materials up-to-date, identify qualified EBRA horses, package photos and videos, create Google Evaluation Forms and communicate with evaluators for horses to be assessed and scored for European Brabant Stock QM Broodmares and European Brabant Studbook status, and to provide the Registrar with timely Breed Standard Evaluation results.

  • Communications & Public Relations Committee: The role of the Communications and Public Relations Committee is to provide internal communication, help produce newsletters and official statements, manage social media, and act as the contact point for any media requests.

  • Member Events Committee: The role of the Member Events Committee is to develop and schedule bi-annual online educational programs, recruit speakers, connect with outside organizations/registries/associations to bolster attendance and coordinate with Communications Committee to market the events.

  • Virtual Horse Show Committee: The role of the Virtual Horse Show Committee is to provide an online platform for Members to showcase their horses, to promote the European Brabant and engage non-Members to join the Registry.

  • Ambassador Committee: The role of the Ambassador Committee is to incentivize Members to take part in community outreach, breed booth hosting, horse exhibitions and shows through accumulated points annually, and design Ambassador swag.

  • Merchandise Committee: The role of the Merchandise Committee is to identify and develop EBRA branded merchandise and to promote, market and sell merchandise with the aim of promoting the breed and raising money for Member events.


See a committee you want to join? Great! Please email info@europeanbrabant.com.


 

EBRA BREED GUIDE AVAILABLE

The EBRA has created this fun and informative poster about the European Brabant. Please feel free to download and print this handy flier and/or share it digitally via email and social media too! Be sure to tag us on Facebook European Brabant Registry of America and Instagram at @EuropeanBrabantRegistry.


Download the FREE PDF here:

EBRA-Breed-Guide-FINAL-RGB
.pdf
Download PDF • 14.45MB

You also have the option of purchasing the poster here:

Or the vinyl outdoor banner here:


 


INVESTING IN HEALTH

The thank you letter from Ghent University

A critical part of the EBRA's mission is to support and promote optimal horse health and to invest in reputable, independent, science-based studies that may improve the welfare of the European Brabant breed. By contributing to the study of equine diseases that impact our breed, we hope to improve and/or eradicate those which affect our horses. In 2023, the EBRA donated 400€ to the Ghent University's Pathology Department to be used for the purpose of studying Chronic progressive lymphedema (CPL) in Belgian (Brabant) Draft Horses. As an organization, we will continue to monitor and support these, and other studies, that will help us achieve our mission.

 

ONLINE CLINCS ARE A HIT

Part of the EBRA's mission is to provide educational opportunities for its Members. To that end, the EBRA launched its Online Clinic Series in 2023 by hosting Pathologist Dr. Marieke Brys, a Chronic Progressive Lymphedema (CPL) specialist from Belgium, and Pathologist Dr. Beth Valentine, DVM, an expert on Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM1) and other muscle-related diseases. The clinics were free to Members and was also open to outside organizations and other private horse owners for a fee. The funds raised were donated back to research and allocated for additional EBRA equine education programs.


CPL CLINIC RECORDING AVAILABLE FOR MEMBERS

featuring Dr. Marieke Brys

In the CPL Clinic, Dr. Marieke Brys covers Chronic Progressive Lymphedema, its symptoms, and best known treatment practices. The recording is now available exclusively for EBRA Members on the secure portal. Simply click HERE to access and stream online.


PSSM CLINIC RECORDING AVAILABLE FOR MEMBERS

featuring Dr. Beth Valentine

In this clinic, Dr. Beth Valentine's discusses Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM1), its symptoms, and best known treatment practices and it's now available exclusively for EBRA Members on the secure portal. Simply click HERE to access and stream online.


 

STUDY SHOWS CYDECTIN KILLS MITES & IMPROVES CPL SYMPTOMS

A study conducted by Dr. Marieke Brys of the Ghent University in Belgium has proven that chorioptes bovis (C. bovis) mites influence the severity and progression of Chronic progressive lymphedema (CPL) in Belgian (Brabant) Draft Horses. The study showed that the incidence of C. bovis mites are extremely high in the breed and, due to a lack of effective acaricides in horses, it studied the efficacy of a topical moxidectin (Pour-on Cydectin for Cattle) solution as a treatment against C. bovis. The effects of the Cydectin treatments on the clinical symptoms of CPL were evaluated at the same time. The treatment proved to be very effective for eradicating C. bovis infestations and also resulted in resolution of pruritus and mange associated lesions. Additionally, it demonstrated to be an effective treatment against the clinical symptoms of CPL. To read Dr. Brys' full study, click HERE.


To summarize the very in-depth study, simply shaving the legs, washing with soaps, and/or treating with sulfur-and-oil won't fully rid horses of mites. However, two back-to-back treatments of Cydectin just one week apart has been proven to fully clear mite infestations, while also reducing the symptoms of and halting the progression of Chronic progressive lymphedema (CPL).


Please note that Dr. Brys' dosage directions are based on the metric system, so some calculations and conversations are necessary. Dr. Brys recommends 1.5MG per 1KG body weight. The EBRA has created this quick-reference chart that includes the dosage equations and dosages for common weights.


PLEASE NOTE: Cydectin use in horses is considered "off label". Always consult your vet before introducing new medications. Cydectin is lipophilic, therefore should NOT be used on foals, underweight horses, late-gestation or nursing mares. An alternative treatment for these horses and foals is pour-on Ivermectin. However, Dr. Brys did not include this treatment in her study and therefore cannot guarantee its efficacy.




 


GOT DRAFTS? FEED FAT!

According to Dr. Beth Valentine, DVM, a fat-adapted diet is the best thing for our draft horses. As a pathologist, she dedicated years of research to the muscles of draft horses and discovered that they're built to burn fat (this is my own layman's summary of course). Members, you can listen to her full explanation HERE and learn the myriad of benefits to applying a fat-adapted diet.


Essentially what Dr. Valentine is saying is that whether your draft horse carries one, two, or no PSSM1 genes, they ALL need fat in their diet. Over the centuries, draft horses evolved to be this way so it's up to us to adapt our feed regimes to support their unique dietary needs.


Dr. Valentine says all sweet, sugary feeds, treats, and supplements should be eliminated from draft horse diets immediately. A simple ration balancer with vitamin E and selenium (only if needed) will suffice. Pound for pound, a draft horse should be fed 1LB of fat per 1,000LBS of body weight. The most expedient, convenient way to add fat is by adding oil. To achieve 1LB of fat, you'll need 2 cups of oil.



Dr. Valentine says it takes roughly four months for a horse to become fully fat-adapted and recommends oil be added slowly over time. Start by adding 1/4 cup of oil daily for a week or two, 1/2 cup for another week, 3/4 for the week after that and so on until you're at the recommended fat level. For a 1,000LBS horse, that's 2 cups per day. As most draft horses weigh 2,000LBS more or less, we'd need 4 cups per day. She says you may see loose stool during the adaptation phase and to just hold off on increasing the oil intake until it becomes normal again.


As you can imagine, oil is messy. One way to reduce the mess is to soak the oil in ration balancer pellets or forage pellets/cubes between meals. You can use Tupperware or buckets to prepare meals, allowing time for the oil to be absorbed. Quick Tip: Adding some water helps the oil absorb easier and the pellets will be a near-solid state by feeding time. See the example images above.



Dr. Valentine literally wrote the book on draft horse management. If you want to check it out, you can get it on Amazon HERE.


 

Not a Member, join today to unlock more draft-related materials that will help improve the health and wellness of your European Brabant!




 



Why We Show

by Olga Pushkareva


It is easy to love our horses unconditionally. Every breeder and seller believe their stock is of the highest quality, while prospective buyers and breeders across the US rarely have a chance to see the horses in-person before signing a sale or breeding contract. Making decisions based purely on pictures and videos comes with lots of uncertainty. As we work to promote the breed, breed new stock, preserve and improve the bloodlines, consider adding objective unbiased data to inform our decisions. 


We haven’t shown horses prior to getting our first European Brabant stallion. As he was maturing, we were looking for venues open to stallions to enrich his upbringing and discovered the in-hand shows. In our area, local saddle club fun shows and many of the county fairs were unavailable to stallions. However, recognized nationwide shows, focused on sport horse prospect breeding, were glad to have drafts participate. It was a bit intimidating at first, but we ended up having a lot of fun with this process. This experience has been educational and rewarding, and we would love to share some of the lessons learned with others.


When people think about showing the draft breeds, the hitch classes likely come to mind the most, along with the exaggerated hooves and action. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the in-hand classes intended to evaluate horses’ conformation, movement, and athletic potential. Halter classes offered by established nationwide equestrian organizations provide many benefits to the owners, breeders, and horses. There are currently no in-person European Brabant breed-specific show opportunities in the US because of the low number of horses and widely dispersed membership. Though there are several all-breed nationwide show series that drafts can participate in. Two of the series we have partaken in and enjoyed very much are the Young Horse Show and the USDF Breeders Championship Series. Before you dismiss this idea, thinking that dressage isn’t for you, remember that dressage techniques are excellent for every horse and dressage is a key element of combined driving.

Douglas Christensen, a successful breeder and trainer of sporthorses in the US, UK, and Germany for over 25 years, former president for the Alamo Dressage Association, and the AWSSR horse inspector says, "It is important to present horses for evaluation with a future career in-mind. Conformation flaws and lack of correctness impacts suitability for use, which is true for both heavy and light horses. Whether the intended athletic endeavor for a given horse is riding, driving, or heavy work, a qualified sporthorse inspector will be able to evaluate the horse from that perspective and provide useful feedback to the owner.”

Dressage offers the benefits of muscle conditioning, improved balance, flexibility, and strength, which is universally beneficial regardless of whether your draft is a workhorse, driven or ridden. Plus, participating in a USDF or similar sport horse program doesn’t obligate the participant to continue to show in dressage. Noting that there’s no harm in exposing horses to diverse training opportunities, let’s explore some of the benefits of these well-structured halter competitions.  

 


Independent assessment of conformation and movement by unbiased qualified evaluators


Baseline for breeders to evaluate their stock and data for continuous improvement of breed genetics: As we work to grow European Brabant numbers in the US, it is important to assess and protect the limited breeding stock. Show performance results for the stallions, and subsequently their offspring, create a data set to determine whether they produce foals consistent with the breeding goals. Conformation flaws put horses at an increased risk for injury or lameness and must be one of the factors taken into consideration during breeding decisions. In-hand sport horse judges are trained to look for lack of correctness and limitations in quality of movement caused by weakness in conformation that predispose horses to unsoundness. More details on the in-hand evaluation criteria can be found in the published USDF in-hand score sheet under Specifications.

Dougals Christensen points out, “The objective evaluation by qualified sporthorse inspector helps identify weaknesses in the stallion, which allows the breeder to match with the mare whose strengths counteract stallion’s weaknesses. This approach aims to breed out the flaws and serves as the foundation for a successful breeding program.” 

Objective information to share with prospective breeders: We own two stallions: bay and blue roan. Not only do they differ in coat color, but both are unique individuals with respect to temperament and athleticism. With the blue roan being a more desirable color, it would be reasonable to assume that the bay roan stallion would be less popular. To counteract that common supposition, in addition to the photos and videos we can offer potential breeders the results of independent evaluation of each stallion’s conformation, movement, and athleticism as another dimension to support informed breeding decisions. This information can be especially helpful to those who wish to breed draft crosses for the EBRA Appendix Brabant record.

Valuable feedback from judges on young horse development: Certainly, you’ve heard of nature versus nurture. We can’t control nature or the genetic makeup of a given horse, but we can tailor nurture or the environmental factors to help that horse perform to the best of its ability. The environmental factors of interest are nutrition and training regimes. Judges’ feedback helps set training goals and objectives. Some of the useful feedback we have received instructed us to work on lengthening or extended stride, impulsion, balance in canter, and roundness. We take judges’ feedback seriously and work to implement the recommendations. Each subsequent show is an opportunity for our horses to improve on their previous scores.

Substantiation of insurability value: For those who insure their stock know that a new foal’s insurability value is simply based on the purchase price, with many comps available to substantiate it. Sale price data for mature European Brabants is limited and increasing insurability value for a growing horse can be harder to substantiate. If the horse isn’t yet earning income or participate in paid training, its performance in the show ring can contribute to value appraisal by the insurance company.


2023 USDF Dressage Sport Horse Prospects (In-Hand) Blank Score Sheet
.pdf
Download PDF • 265KB

 


Programs specifically designed to promote breeders and showcase quality horses


Breed promotion: All-breed shows are great for sharing the European Brabant breed with other equestrians. Horse’s stall can easily be used to display the registry banner and breed information. The audience at the shows is typically diverse and most attendees are very excited to see heavy drafts participate. Impressive conformation and movement scores surprise those who think that drafts are largely dull and lazy. European Brabant’s show performance results bust myths and justifies the versatility of the breed.

Nancy Roth, an equine veterinarian, a USDF Breeder of Distinction, and national director for the American Warmblood Society and Sporthorse Registry, who has followed our stallion, AKH Aspen, from the start says, “At the Young Horse Show, a top Warmblood jumper breeder noticed AKH Aspen (Turtle) when she saw him performing at Liberty. AKH Aspen is a wonderful ambassador for promoting the European Brabants and his condition and traditional turnout are exceptional. While AKH Aspen’s Grand Championship win in the virtual EBRA horse show is the most meaningful for preservation of the breed, his USDF Dressage Sporthorse Breeding and YHS series is more for the validation of quality and education of the public.”

Marketing and networking opportunities: European Brabants look impressive and attract attention, especially in traditional presentation with colorful yarn and raffia. We’ve answered many questions about our horses and the breed at the shows. Displaying a farm banner on your horse’s stall, wearing farm logoed attire, and giving away farm business cards or simple promotional items helps establish new connections with potential breeders and buyers. Additionally, the shows commonly have a professional photographer ready to capture your horse’s images while they look their best. Quality professional photographs are wonderful for boosting social media and farm websites. Lastly, some of the shows allow exhibitors to openly identify horses that are on the market to help facilitate sale.


 


Low key opportunities for the young horses to experience the show atmosphere.


It is very important for any horse to travel well and spend time away from home comfortably. Halter shows are great off-the-farm practice for young horses, especially stallions. It’s particularly important for the stallions to become accustomed to behaving appropriately in public places and around other horses. Exposing young horses to various environments early and consistently is key. In-hand shows have low performance demand for the horse and allow them to take in all the sights and sounds at a comfortable pace resulting in a positive experience. Shows that offer professional handlers are especially good starting out because the handlers know how to settle a nervous horse and help them put the best foot forward.

“Showing heavy horses in-hand is good for getting them used to a show atmosphere and making a public appearance for breed promotion and public education.” – Nancy Roth
 


Some of the challenges and concerns associated with showing horses are worth mentioning:


Uncertainty about how your draft may place in the competition. While our stallions typically place quite well, we are not aiming for ribbons or titles. We’ve established a baseline and are working to improve on it. Our horses compete against themselves, with a goal of beating their previous scores. We do not compare their performance to the scores of lighter horses because it simply wouldn’t be realistic, but our stallion’s performance sets a benchmark for their offsprings to achieve.

“Always stay true to type and breed standards despite judges placing. Dressage Sporthorse Breeding classes emphasize potential for Dressage competition, a correct foundation and quality movement is always appreciated and will be reflected in the score.” – Nancy Roth

Cost. Showing can be expensive. In addition to the class fees, recognized shows frequently require for the horse to be recorded and/or owner to be a member of the organization.

Travel and transportation. While there’s a good likelihood of a nationwide all-breed program being available in your state, it could still be several hours away for some.

Veterinary considerations. Show participation typically requires horses to have current negative Equine infectious anemia (EIA or coggins) certificate, up to date immunizations, and could require a health certificate.

Time commitment for grooming and pattern practice. Owners and handlers have to invest time in practicing braiding and show class pattern requirements specific to the show they are planning to attend. Halter patterns vary between organizations and mane plaiting requirement could differ as well.

Investment in training. It is advisable to implement judges’ recommendations to help horses achieve their potential, which requires an investment of time, cost, or both.


When looking at the bigger picture, all the potential drawbacks of embarking on a show ring adventure largely amount to making an investment in your horse. The benefits for you, your horse, the breed, and the registry are many. If you are not able to go out to a larger more formal show, attending a local fun show or a county fair would come with many of the same benefits discussed herein. The importance of getting European Brabants out in public to raise breed awareness can’t be overstated.


As the numbers of European Brabants in the US increase, and more owners take the opportunity to evaluate their horses, we look forward to comparing our European Brabants’ performance to that of their peers. In 2023, EBRA launched the virtual horse show series. It is our hope that the annual virtual show series will thrive and eventually mature to an in-person breed-specific events or classes.

 



BENEFITS OF MOUNTAIN TRAIL CHALLENGE EVENTS

by Rebecca Courtney


With our hands full managing a breeding operation, caring for the herd, making hay, logging, and working off the farm, All the King’s Horses doesn’t have a lot of extra time to hit the road and attend horse shows and expos.  But we strongly believe in being involved in the equine industry to promote the breed and also demonstrate that our horses can perform off the farm as well as in the breeding herd or logging crew.  Attending Mountain Trail Challenges has been a fun and productive way to meet these goals during the slower winter season without taking too much time away from our other duties.


Mountain trail challenges are essentially an obstacle course for the horse, with a focus on natural type obstacles that a rider might encounter on the trails.  There are options for both in-hand and riding classes, with separate divisions for novice handlers, green horses, youth and adult participants.  We’re blessed that a farm just across the PA/OH border has devoted significant time and energy to building up the event and recently constructed the first permanent indoor course in the nation.  This is our third season participating in the winter series at Win-Seek Fallen Pines Equestrian Center and we’ve discovered several benefits from investing our time and energy in this program.


 For our horses, training and competing in the mountain trail events is a way to challenge them with trying new things.  Crossing bridges and teeter-totters, going through a water box, stepping carefully over logs and poles (not something that comes naturally to our drafts, we’ve found!) and working gates are all part of the routine.  While they may not encounter these exact scenarios riding the trails or working in the woods, the skills they learn can be transferred over to a wide variety of activities and growing this skill set makes for a well-rounded horse. 


We often take advantage of the in-hand and green horse classes to work our youngsters.  Even if they are not yet old enough to ride or drive, they can practice the obstacles and get out to some events.  Using the relevant verbal cues along the way get the horses familiar with them and by the time we’re ready to start them formally they have a very solid foundation in the skills they need.  This is particularly helpful for our young up-and-coming stud prospect, as it is a chance to get off the farm and practice minding his manners and focusing on his handler in a new environment.  This is important for any horse, but especially for a stallion who will one day be an 1800 lb powerhouse!


Attending events is also a wonderful way to network with other horse lovers and promote the breed.  We make it a point to have representatives of both the European Brabant and the Gypsy Vanner breeds when we attend and are often approached by people who have never interacted with these magnificent horses in person before.  The obstacle work naturally showcases the great minds, willing spirits, and easygoing natures found in our horses which makes for an excellent demonstration of the breed.  As an event sponsor, we also have a banner in the arena and the show coordinators announce our farm and the breeds we represent at each event, providing a little extra reach and promotion for the breed.      


 


Winter Weather Hacks

It's winter time again and we've compiled a few winter weather hacks that may make life easier for you on the farm:

  • Keep your barn stocked like Sam's Club. You don't want to be caught empty handed at the barn because you can't get to the feed store. Make sure you've got at least two weeks of hay on-hand. Also, most vendors will offer a bulk discount so buying feed and supplements by the pallet will not only be good on the wallet, it will ensure your horses have the feed they need to stay warm this winter.

  • Take the time to drain hoses and cover exposed spigots with insulators or covers when not in use to prevent freezing.

  • If you have a tack or feed room, fill a few buckets with water and stash them in case your outdoor pipes aren't flowing.

  • Avoid snowballs in hooves by coating them with a cooking spray like Pam, petroleum jelly, or hoof oil. Alternatively, if your horse is on Dr. Beth Valentine's recommended fat adapted diet, simply use some of the feed oil on their feet.

  • Spray manes, tails and leg feathering with Magic Sheen or even some coconut oil to help stop mud and snow sticking to the hairs. As an added bonus, coconut oil moisturizes skin for both you and your horse! Plus, it helps prevent mud fever.

  • Same concept as above, spray your snow shovel with a grooming show sheen product, like Magic Sheen, to prevent snow from sticking as you shovel out the barn and paddocks.

  • Spreading a thin layer of wood ash or manure from your compost pile over icy paddock areas can help improve traction. Old hay, straw, and shavings tend to make it even more slippery.

  • Compost can also be used to cover the ground where shallow water pipes run to keep them toasty and running.

  • Since horses are less inclined to drink water in the winter, soak your feed with water to aid in hydration. You can even sprinkle some salt in to encourage drinking after meals.


Do you have a great winter weather hack? Be sure to log into the EBRA Forum and share it with us!

 



Our 1st Quarter 2024 Members Meeting will be held January 22nd at 8:00 p.m. EST.


 

GET YOUR EBRA GEAR FOR 2024!





 




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