Quarantine lifted in Bedford County after December Strangles outbreak

A quarantine has been lifted at a Bedford County, Virginia, farm after a veterinarian reported eight horses affected with Strangles. The horses first showed symptoms on Dec. 21, 2017, including cough, discharge from the nose, swollen lymph nodes and fever.

Strangles is an infection of the upper respiratory tract found only in horses, donkeys and mules. Strangles does not spread through the air, but it is highly contagious. It can be spread by an infected horse touching another horse or indirectly through tack, shared drinking water or feed, clothing, hands and other pets such as barn cats and dogs.

Twelve horses were put under quarantine at the Bedford County farm, but only the original eight horses showed signs of the disease during that first week. All of those horses have recovered and have been free of symptoms for the past three weeks.


‘Horse Whisperer’ coming to Virginia Horse Center in October

Buck Brannaman

One of the things I love the most about living in the Roanoke region of Virginia is having the Virginia Horse Center just a short jaunt up Interstate 81. The first class horse facility brings top competition and horsemen to our region each year, and 2018 will be no exception.

If you are a fan of natural horsemanship, one of the very top clinicians will be visiting the East Complex on Oct. 5-7, 2018. Buck Brannaman was the inspiration for the movie and novel character Tom Booker from “The Horse Whisperer.” He was also the equine consultant on the film. A documentary about Brannaman called “Buck,”Buck directed by Cindy Meehl, won the U.S. Documentary Competition Audience Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Brannaman will hold Foundation Horsemanship and Horsemanship classes at the October clinic. For more information, contact taylorf7@vt.edu. Brannaman’s website lists clinic costs at $700 for three days of class participation as a rider and an auditing fee of $30 a day.

The classes offered are described as follows:

Foundation Horsemanship

This new class is for the green rider or a green horse who may feel the need for additional groundwork prior to riding. During each of the three-day sessions half of the class is dedicated to working the horse from the ground in preparation for riding, with the second half of the class horseback.

Horsemanship 1

For the green horse and rider already comfortable in the snaffle bit along with aged horses needing continued work. This is the first stage of progressing into the bridle with all basic movements introduced. All levels of riders – no matter what discipline – will benefit. The class features strictly dry work – no cattle. All maneuvers stress the vaquero style of riding and are appropriate for horses from first level snaffle to experienced bridle horses. Hackamore horses welcome.

Brannaman, of Sheridan, Wyo., spends much of his year on the road holding clinics around the globe. For instance, his 2018 schedule includes stops in Australia, Italy and throughout the U.S., although most stops are in the Western U.S.

“I often tell people in the clinics, the human possesses the one thing that means more to the horse than anything in the world, and that is peace and comfort,” Brannaman told ABC News in 2012. “That’s all they want.”

The trainer grew up a child of abuse, terrified of their widowed father who forced him and his brothers to perform trick roping.

“The horses at that time in my life, they saved my life,” Brannaman told Weir. “The horses did way for me than I did for them. So they were my friends, and they were sort of my refuge. So it’s interesting that I’ve been given the opportunity to spend the rest of my life making things better for the horses.”

Brannaman is known for his quiet approach to gaining respect from horses. He emphasizes that respect and fear are not the same thing. He was for many years a disciple of Ray Hunt, one of the founders of the natural horsemanship movement, and also inspired by Tom and Bill Dorrance.

BCHA holds 18th Annual Horse Show, adds hunter pace to day’s events

Jill Franceschini and her mare Kelty accept the BCHA Members Only class trophy from association vice president JoAnn Dester.

The Botetourt County Horseman’s Association held it’s annual horse show on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 at Green Hill Park in Salem. As a new twist on the horse show, the association added a hunter pace to the afternoon, sending riders out on Green Hill Park’s cross country course on a lovely fall ride.

The show included two classes that featured a perpetual trophy to the winner. The BCHA Members Only class was won by Jill Franceschini riding her gray mare Kelty. Along with the trophy, Franceschini also received a free membership renewal with the association.

The Susan Bradley Memorial Arabian Pleasure class, created many years ago to honor one of the club’s founders, was won by Grace Myers riding Shadows Morning Joy.

Grace Myers riding Shadows Morning Joy receive the Susan Bradley Memorial Trophy.

The show also featured a $100-added Jackpot Pleasure class, won by Aubrey Puckett on Hennley. She took home a jackpot of $75 for her win. Other money was split between second and third place horses and a exhibitor drawn at random.

The show, judged by USEF “r” carded Rachel Bandy Witt, featured a wide variety of classes from model in the morning, three over fences divisions in the afternoon, plus pleasure classes for English, Western, Ranch, and Gaited horses. Those were followed by a series of Games classes to round out the day.

Rachel Cook and It’s All About Tonight
Clair Humphreys and Red Badge of Trouble


Grace Myers dressed as a witch for the Costume Class.

Horses ride away with this weekend in Hollins, Botetourt

If you are searching for something equine to do this weekend, head to northeast Roanoke County/Botetourt County for a trio of events clustered in the Hollins/Daleville area.

Start your day at the Hollins University Fall Horse Show. The hunters/jumper show runs all weekend, starting at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Jeanie Smith (USEF “R”) of Tyron, North Carolina, will judge.

Then be sure to make some time to drive over to Rockingham Co-op on Route 220 South to the Virginia Horse Council’s Essentially Equine Craft Fair. The craft fair will feature area artists’ work but with an equestrian twist. It’s a perfect place to get your early Christmas shopping done for all your horse-loving friends, plus get yourself something special, too. It’s only a 10-minute drive from Hollins if you happen to be showing this weekend. The craft sale will be open from 8 a.m. until 5.

If you like to barter a bit, Hollins Stockyard has scheduled a tack and horse sale on Saturday. At 11 a.m. tack will be auctioned and can be a great place to pick up riding essentials for less. Horses will follow later that evening at 4 p.m.


Gorgeous fall weekend closes the Cross View Show Series’ 2017 season

Zipposhandsomedevil and Lauren Owen

The Cross View Horse Show Series closed it’s 2017 series, crowning its high point winners for the day and the season at its fall show this past weekend. While the calendar said it was fall, the weather felt more like mid-summer with temperatures well into the mid-80s and the sun shining hot and bright all day.

By the time I arrived on Sunday afternoon, their was a decent, if not spectacular, turnout for the show. I was a bit surprised that more didn’t take advantage of the incredible September weather to come out with their horses. As with each Cross View show, the midway between the two main rings included vendors and games.


Most of the Western classes appeared to have between two and five entries. Five vied for the Jackpot GAYP Pleasure class. Laura Owen took home the largest slice of the jackpot on her sorrel gelding, Zipposhandsomedevil, who she rode without a bridle in the class.


The ranch horse classes were also well attended. Riders in the ranch rail classes were asked to walk, job and lope, but also to extend the jog.

Attire for Western part of the show was very casual for some — I saw ball caps and blue jeans on some — to gemstones and standard pleasure glitz on others. So don’t let your lack of show attire keep you from coming out to complete next year!



MY VIEW: I like my judges where I can see them

Covering horse shows of multiple disciplines around the region, I see a lot of different ways shows are run. And one of the big differences that I see, and have also experienced as an exhibitor, is the placement of the judge during a flat class.

In the AQHA/stock horse-led culture that I grew up in, the judge was always in the arena for the flat classes. Often they place themselves off to one corner. From there they can see most of the arena plus hear the footfalls of the horses behind them. But when I started showing hunters in college, the judges were always sitting outside the arena. Sometimes they were hard to even find. I always found this disconcerting.

Part of showing includes your presentation to the judge. At the district horse shows I attended as a teenager only the first- or second-place horse moved on to the state championship. Three judges were used and their scores were averaged to determine the final placings. One year, while two of the judges were consistently placing me high, one judge wasn’t using me at all. This was sending me down to sixth overall and outside of qualifying for the state horse show. Part of my instructions from my coach included to make eye contact with that judge as I came toward him. Did it help? I have no idea. But it was part of the showmanship: Confidently showing your horse to the judge, and let’s face it, finding a spot to make an adjustment behind the judge’s back.

I was reminded of this difference at the last show I attended: the Virginia 4-H State Championship. In the hunter pleasure classes on Saturday afternoon, the announcer had to ask each class to look up at the stands at the waving judge and then explain that they shouldn’t ride down the rail on that side of the arena as she wouldn’t be able to see them. It made for a very lopsided ride for the exhibitors with awkward turns at the corner so they could ride off the rail down one side. Maybe not so awkward if you are alone in the arena, but in classes of 15-18 horses, some exhibitors would be coming into the corner three deep. Some of them resorted to riding a little circle in the middle of the arena, which appeared to suit the judge just fine but didn’t make the horse look so great.

At the end of the class,  the lineup had horses stacked up in just a tiny part of the arena so that she could see the numbers. If she couldn’t see numbers in a normal lineup, what else couldn’t she see?

I saw one very nice horse miss its lead not once, but three consecutive times, before  giving a little buck and taking the correct one. This happened right in front of the judge but perhaps too close to the rail for her to know. It’s hard to say that was the case, but it was a major error that ended in a reserve championship.

Sitting in the stands seems to me to be so disconnected from the exhibitors. I couldn’t help but think to myself that all of this could have been avoided if the judge would simply come stand in the arena.

The Virginia 4-H State Championship had some judging inconsistencies. Some disciplines had just the one judge, such as the hunters and dressage equitation. One person’s opinion to decide the state title. However, when I switched gears to watch the Western divisions, there were two judges. (Both in the arena I might add.) I believe multiple judges is the more appropriate choice at a state championship. Three would be even better than two as you’d have fewer ties. Of course, the cost of paying the judges becomes a factor.

And as a further argument for judges in the arena, the exhibitors got to lineup in front of each individual judge before the final results were announced. Often the judge would chat with the winning rider as they stood there. That’s a memory that is likely to always stick with that rider.

I know that judging is a long day and they deserve a seat. And classes that involve patterns or jumping a course are a fantastic chance to allow the judge to sit. However, for the flat classes on the rail there is no reason to be up in the bleachers. Exhibitors who put their heart and soul into that weekend of showing deserve to get the chance to look their judge in the eye and show them just what they’ve got.

What do you all think? Do you have a preference as to where you find the judge?


Morgan Strickler and Ima Glowin CocoChip repeat Virginia 4-H Western Pleasure Classic win

Morgan Strickler and Ima Glowin Coco Chip (front)

There’s something inspiring about the Virginia State 4-H Championship Horse Show that’s held every September at the Virginia Horse Center.

Not every truck and trailer you see parked in the lot is brand new, although many are. Not every saddle is covered in silver or every show shirt perfectly tailored and covered in sparkling jewels, although many are. But the atmosphere is every bit as electric as the biggest shows, maybe even more so.

Parents stand on the rail more nervous than if they were showing, muttering instructions and tips even though their children are at the other end of the arena and couldn’t possibly hear. Horses are lovingly prepared to enter what for many will be the biggest show of the year, if not their careers, to make memories that may last the rest of the exhibitors’ lives.

Morgan Strickler and Ima Glowin CocoChip placed first and second under the two judges in Horsemanship, taking home the overall championship.

Morgan Strickler of Frederick County is one such exhibitor who is bound to always have great memories of her rides at the 4-H State Championship Show. She was returning to the championship show after winning the Western Pleasure Classic last year on her Appaloosa Ima Glowin CocoChip. Sunday morning, the defending champion made it two in a row. First Morgan won the Horsemanship title in a split judge’s decision (Gillian Davis riding VS Red Solo was first under the second judge), and then she took the Western Pleasure Horse Classic in a unanimous decision. Julia Marie Haney of Prince William County and The Kyrmsun Cowboy were Reserve in the Western Pleasure Horse Classic.




Photos from the Virginia 4-H Championship Horse Show available for purchase are being uploaded now at www.roanokeequestrian.smugmug.com.
Digital copies and print versions are available.


The Classics, which require a qualifying ride in a previous class during the show, are simply a cap to what is a busy weekend at the horse center. The show begins on Thursday and runs through Sunday. The winners of the various class divisions then come back at the end of the show for the “Classic” classes… the best of the best enter the ring to vie for the class title. This year, the Hunter Pleasure, Western Pleasure, Hunt Seat Equitation and Horsemanship Classics were held in the East Complex on Sunday morning. But other Classics are held also on both Saturday and Sunday.

Emily Michelle Strom of Henrico County and her gray Arabian KK Dream Catcher

Emily Michelle Strom of Henrico County and her gray Arabian KK Dream Catcher won the Western Pleasure Pony Classic.

In the Hunt Seat Equitation Classic, Holly Kate Longest of James City rode Playing Hooky to victory. Holly was part of a four-horse work-off the required the exhibitors to show at a walk, rising trot, sitting trot and canter without their irons. Reserve went to Marissa Jones of Loudoun on Above the Clouds.

There’s a balance here between everyone getting a shot and the top riders achieving the giant trophy. And the trophies really are enormous — one Classic trophy required two people to carry it into the arena. Disciplines offered are as varied as the ponies. Western, Saddle Seat, Hunt Seat, Dressage, Speed, Reining and even Side Saddle are represented.

What the 4-H State Show has that many other shows seem to lack is a fabulous sense of community. Counties band together, decorate their stalls to a common theme and everyone seems to have their own cheering section when the results came in after each class. There’s a lot that professionals could learn from the youth in that arena.

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Strangles outbreak reported in Pulaski County

The Equine Disease Communication Center has reported a strangles case in Pulaski County, Virginia.

The attending veterinarians reported the case in a Appaloosa-cross gelding who began showing clinical signs on August 22, including nasal discharge, swelling of the lymph nodes and fever. The gelding was initially isolated on the farm but has since been transported off the farm.

The gelding tested positive for strangles on culture by nasal swab, lymph node aspirate, and serum.

A Tennessee Walking Horse gelding and a Quarter Horse mare were also exposed as they were purchased from the same source and were hauled together prior to the onset of clinical signs. The walking horse gelding and quarter horse mare have been isolated.

Strangles is an infectious, contagious disease characterized by abscesses in the lymphoid tissue of the upper respiratory tract. The incubation period of strangles is 3–14 days, and the first sign of infection is fever (103°–106°F). Within 24–48 hours of the initial fever spike, the horse will exhibit signs typical of strangles, including nasal discharge, depression, and and swelling.  Some horses have difficulty swallowing, and make noise when breathing. Older animals with residual immunity may develop an atypical or catarrhal form of the disease with mucoid nasal discharge, cough, and mild fever.

Botetourt County Horseman’s Association to hold 18th Annual Horse Show & Hunter Pace Oct. 7.

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The Botetourt County Horseman’s Association will hold its 18th Annual Horse Show on Oct. 7 at Green Hill Park in Salem. The open horse show will include three over-fences divisions, model, showmanship, coached, pleasure, ranch riding, gaited and games classes. Rachel Bandy Witt will judge.

The horse show will also include a $100-added money Jackpot Pleasure class. Money from entries will be contributed to the pot for each of the top 3 placings and a rider drawn at random. The more who enter, the bigger the payout. Entry fees for that class will be $25. All other classes will be $8.

The show also includes a special classes of Arabian exhibitors. The Susan Bradley Memorial Trophy Open Arabian Pleasure class returns to the BCHA show this year. And BCHA members may ride in the BCHA Members Only pleasure class.

Eleven division champions will be crowned, with special prizes to each of those winners. Class winners will also receive prizes beyond the blue ribbon.

New this year, a hunter pace will accompany the horse show. Starting at noon, teams of two may tackle the course. The team closest to the optimal time wins. All jumps are optional and three divisions will be offered, including a trail division for those who just want to ride at a leisurely pace. All disciplines welcome. The cost to ride in the hunter pace is $35/rider for non-members, $25/rider for BCHA members. The hunter pace will run through 3 p.m.


Cross View Horse Show holds July installment of its 2017 series

CrossViewBLOG-0306The Cross View Horse Show series continued last weekend at Green Hill Park Equestrian Center with a two-day horse show. Saturday featured hunters/jumpers and Sunday featured an all-breed open horse show with a special division of gaited horses.

The Cross View series is a great show for all levels of riders looking for a well-run show with a low-pressure, community atmosphere. Along with the competition, vendors also camped out in the grassy section between the two arenas.

Green Hill Equestrian Center offers three arenas with dirt footing. There is a large field across from the arenas for easy trailer parking, even for the largest of rigs. There also limited stalls available. The Green Hill venue does get hot in the summer with limited shade, so bring your pop up canopies or consider arriving early to secure a spot near the woods.

The show moves along fairly quickly. On Sunday, the gaited horses and model/showmanship started the show in separate arenas. The gaited portion was completed by 11 a.m and featured Rocky Mountain Horses, Tennessee Walking Horses, Saddlebreds and Peruvian Pasos among the horses shown.

See a photo you love? Photos taken at the Cross View Horse Show can be purchased online by clicking here.

Turnout was good considering the heat in July. Youth classes were particularly well attended with 10-15 in the youth pleasure classes. However the adult classes on Sunday weren’t as well attended and the English pleasure division had just one adult showing this time. Classes run $9/class.

Cross View would hold the last show in its 2017 series on Sept. 23-24 at Green Hill Equestrian Center, where it will crown the high point winners for the entire series.

Below are a sample of photos from the weekend. These photos and many others are available for purchase at roanokeequestrian.smugmug.com.