A fall from the back of a horse carries increased risks for head injuries, and while an increase in helmet use has helped reduce those injuries, the overall number of head injuries among riders is still high.
And choosing a helmet is a bit of a guessing game for riders. Word of mouth and anecdotal evidence seems to drive buying decisions and there is no rating system available that helps riders make an informed decision about which helmet to wear.
In hopes of providing some guidance and help lead manufacturers to produce safer helmets, the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab has set its sights on developing a rating system for riding helmets.
As part of a two-year project, the lab will develop a star system rating how effective the helmet protects riders. The lab’s helmet ratings identify which helmets best reduce concussion risk. More stars equate to better protection, with 5 stars representing the best available helmets. Consumer demands for five-star helmets will in turn drive manufacturers to develop helmets with the best protection.
Since 2011, the helmet lab has been providing unbiased helmet ratings that allow consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing helmets. The helmet ratings are the culmination of over 10 years of research on head impacts in sports and identify which helmets best reduce concussion risk.
The lab has worked on helmets for several other sports, including football, hockey, and cycling. Each sport requires a very sport-specific evaluation system. For equestrians, helmets are tested against various surfaces such as grass and dirt, as well as from taller heights like a rider would experience during a fall from a horse.
“I look forward to the challenge of helping the horse center to be the best it can be.”
— Glenn T. Petty
Glenn T. Petty has been appointed the new CEO of the Virginia Horse Center Foundation. An experienced business leader and horseman, Petty will succeed John Nicholson and assume responsibilities on May 3, 2021. Nicholson will be retiring to his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky.
The foundation board of directors announced the appointment April 14, 2021.
Petty spent 16 years as manager of the Governor James B. Hunt Jr. Horse Complex and 25 years as show manager of the 19-day State Fair Horse Show at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Most recently, he was executive vice president of the Arabian Horse Association for 12 years.
He has experience working at the national and regional level with a wide array of breed and sport associations. Petty is also a past president of the North Carolina Thoroughbred Breeders Association and the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine Foundation.
Petty has served as a consultant on the construction and design of horse show facilities and fairgrounds across the nation. He has also officiated some of the nation’s largest shows including the Saddle Horse World Championships, the AHA Youth Nationals, and the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden and the Meadowlands.
“I simply could not be more pleased that Glenn Petty will succeed me as CEO of the Virginia Horse Center Foundation,” said John Nicholson, current CEO of the Horse Center. “I have known Glenn and worked with him for many years and I am proud to consider him a friend. He is an honorable, experienced, and well-respected member of the equestrian industry. Under his leadership we can look forward to great and exciting growth for our horse center in the years ahead.”
John Nicholson announced that he planned to retire more than a year ago, with the transition delayed by the pandemic.
Under Nicholson’s leadership, VHCF’s financial stability was restored, enabling it to thrive at a time when its survival was in question. Nicholson and his team attracted new horse shows, recruited new board members, and garnered the support of the equestrian community. Most recently, VHC raised millions of dollars to fund newly added renovations and upgrades at the facility, guided by VHCF’s first-ever master plan.
Gardy Bloemers, president of the board of directors, said, “On behalf of the entire board, I would like to thank John for his more than six years of service with the Virginia Horse Center Foundation. Seven years ago, our organization faced two very serious problems: a leadership void and financial instability. It would be hard to imagine what would have happened to VHC had we not found John.”
During Nicholson’s tenure he worked with both management and the elected leaders of Lexington and Rockbridge to increase the local occupancy tax allocated to meet the debt service on VHCF’s $11.5 million mortgage from the US Department of Agriculture. Obtaining non-operating resources to meet annual debt service payments was the first step in returning VHCF to financial stability.
Board Vice President Kenny Wheeler said, “All of us are incredibly grateful to John for stepping in to lead at a time when we needed specific expertise and help. The situation was pretty dismal. His vast experience and ability to connect with the horse industry, and the localities of Lexington and Rockbridge County,as well as commonwealth leaders, enabled us to turn this ship in the right direction.”
If you’ve ever wondered if getting training for your horse is worth it, spending the day at The Great American Ranch and Trail Horse Sale at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington is a showcase of just how much “broke” is worth in the market today. A well-trained, useful horse will always be wanted.
The sale, in its 20th year, prides itself in offering well-broke horses. There were about 80 horses and ponies of all breeds to choose from at this year’s sale, which took place April 8-10, 2021. More than a few horses saw prices well over $20,000, but it was a tobiano Gypsy Vanner-cross mare named Tequila and consigned by Buckeye Farms who inspired the highest bids. After plenty of back and forth between a couple of bidders participating by phone, she was sold for $72,000 to Alicia Stearman of California.
Stearman said in a Facebook post that she plans to use Tequila for “vaulting and circus camps for kids, Roman riding with another Buckeye Gypsy I bought back in December. We will be performing with kids with her.”
For the past couple years, Gypsy Vanners have been popular at the sale. The 2019 top-seller was a Gypsy Vanner named Congress Hill Moves Like Jagger. He sold for $45,000 that year. In 2018, the black Gypsy Vanner gelding GG Jonah was the top-seller at $40,000.
In 2020, the annual sale was canceled due to the pandemic. This year they returned with the traditional bidding by those in attendance, and by phone and added the ability to bid online as well where a live stream of the sale was available. Several horses were purchased through that online option.
While getting a chance to buy a great trail horse is at the center of the weekend, there’s more to the Great American Ranch and Trail Horse Sale then just an auction. Before the bidding ever begins, many of the horses take part in competitions reserved only for sale horses. The ranch horse competition involves performing a ranch horse pattern and cow work. This year’s winner, who took home a trophy saddle, buckle, and a $1,000 check, was Magnum Affair, a 6-year-old AQHA sorrel gelding. He later sold for $32,000.
The ranch reserve horse was RR Instant Feona. The 2015 quarter horse mare would sell for $17,000.
The trail horse competition begins Friday night before the sale with a preliminary run and is followed by a 10-horse finals on Saturday morning before the sale. It offers a unique opportunity to see the sale horses perform over unfamiliar obstacles that include large and small logs, a bridge, ground-tying while the rider uses an outhouse, a campsite complete with campfire, and loading into a horse trailer. This year the $1,000 win went to KM Best One Zippen, ridden by John Roberts. The 2014 sorrel quarter horse gelding would later sell for $27,000.
The trail horse reserve winner was the eventual high-seller, Tequila.
A special session for ponies started the sale, bringing from about $3,000 to up to $7,000. The first pony to ever qualify for the trail horse competition finals, a black and white leopard Appaloosa pony named Pongo, sold for $6,200.
While many of the horses in the first half of the sale were sold for $20,000 and up, don’t allow that to scare you off. There were plenty of horses, especially toward the last third of the sale, that tended to stay in the five figures.
$72,000 Lot No. 39: Tequila, 2016 Gypsy-cross mare
Legendary dressage horse, Totilas, died Monday after a severe bout of colic. He was 20.
Bred in the Netherlands, the Dutch Warmblood stallion was one of the most outstanding competitive dressage horses in the world and the first horse to score above 90 in competition with rider Edward Gal. He was the former world record holder for highest dressage score in Grand Prix Freestyle Dressage.
Totilas won numerous medals from the World and European Championships, including the World Championships held in Lexington, Kentucky in 2010 where he won three golds.
Totilas was pulled into controversy over Rollkur — the hyperflexion training technique used on him and what critics say create artificial, extravagant gaits.
In 2011, Totilas was sold to ownership in Germany. With Matthias Rath in the saddle, Totilas competed in the 2011 FEI European Championships, where the pair took team silver. Totilas was injured in 2012 and didn’t return to competition for two years. In 2014, he won the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special at Aachen but was withdrew before the freestyle due to another injury. He was then retired after an MRI revealed bone inflammation in his left hind hoof.
Totilas was also a sought-after sire and sired hundreds of foals in a stud career stretching from 2010 to 2020.
A message from Gal on the Glock Performance Center Instagram page reads:
Goodbye my friend Heaven has a new star today. But my heart is broken. Rest in peace #Totilas. You will always be remembered. Together with you I experienced happiness and even grief. Time passed by and wounds healed. But my love for you lasts forever. You honored me with your trust. You were my friend. My condolences to Matthias and all who had the chance to work or live with this exceptional stallion. And my thoughts to all of you who loved him. Good bye my friend. I will miss you until we meet again
Thoroughbred horse owner, philanthropist and son of a Sweet Briar College alumna, Richard C. Colton Jr. has given $1 million to the women’s college to support the renovation of the college’s stables, which will be named the Howell Lykes Colton ’38 Stables in honor of his mother.
Colton’s donation will enhance Sweet Briar’s ability to cultivate scholar-athletes who are accomplished leaders and supportive team members — and to maintain a nationally-ranked program that attracts top riders, instructors and trainers. The renovations should be complete by September.
“At Sweet Briar,” said the college’s president Meredith Woo, “one third of our students identify as riders, whether for competition or recreation. Their participation in the program helps them learn lessons of perseverance, discipline and teamwork. We are committed to supporting the excellence of our riding program and I thank Dick Colton for his tremendous generosity, which is an important part of that commitment.”
Colton is glad to be able to support the school his mother loved so much. “To this day, my mother’s life and what she did with Sweet Briar has definitely impacted us,” Colton said. “We really admired Sweet Briar. Being part of its comeback is honoring my mother and has been a wonderful part of my life. Also, Sweet Briar is really well-known for its riding and I want to help keep it up.”
Colton’s mother, Howell Lykes Colton, was a member of the Sweet Briar Class of 1938. She was a member of a number of clubs and organizations on campus, and also served as the student head of riding. “My mom was a very intelligent woman and Sweet Briar was a great asset to her life.” Colton told us. “She was wise beyond her years. I think she would have excelled in the school even in today’s generation.”
Sweet Briar has become something of a tradition for the Colton family. Although Colton wasn’t able to follow his mother to Sweet Briar — he graduated from Washington & Lee in 1960 — his sister, Keenan Kelsey ’66 did attend and both have been generous to the college.
Shadow Ridge Stables in Wirtz is now under new management.
Huxley Greer of New Life Equestrian Center at Shadow Ridge Stables says a lot of work has been done to ensuring the facility is ready to provide top quality boarding, training, lesson, clinics, shows, and more! Visitors are invited to check the facility out at an open house on Dec. 22nd from 1-3 p.m.
An overview of amenities include:
Laundry services for boarders
Outdoor arena with excellent footing, lights, and sound system
12×12 stalls with rubber mats and fans
Miles of amazing trails
Hot and cold wash stalls with fans and heat lamps
Heated tack room with individualized lockers
Variety of turnout options
Pasture board that offers comfy sheds with fans
Staff that lives on-site
All disciplines and levels of riders are welcome.
For those interested, an FEI event and dressage trainer is available on site for lessons, but boarders are also welcome to bring in outside trainers.
“Well, Doc, he sometimes takes an off-step when the ground is too hard.”
“He trips and stumbles when the footing is deep.”
“She seems off. Maybe.”
Equestrians of all disciplines dread that sinking feeling when they know something just isn’t right with their horse’s performance. Lameness can be notoriously hard to diagnose. But now, veterinarians in Virginia are getting a new tool to help evaluate sport horses. Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, Virginia, recently broke ground on a new indoor arena designed to help evaluate lameness.
The arena will have three types of surfaces under one roof where equine athletes can be evaluated by a variety of specialists to diagnose possible physical problems affecting the horse’s performance.
The arena will be connected by a breezeway to the recently renovated Youngkin Equine Soundness Clinic, which also offers advanced imaging, therapeutic podiatry, and acupuncture among its services. The clinic also uses a wireless motion-analysis system to locate lameness.
In it’s 35th year, the equine medical center is working to become the premier equine medical center on the East Coast. It offers advanced specialty care, 24-hour emergency treatment, and diagnostic services for all ages and breeds of horses.
To schedule an appointment, refer a patient, or inquire about the center’s sports medicine or other clinical services, please call 703-771-6800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A horse admitted to the Virginia Tech’s large animal hospital has tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), the virus that causes Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy.
The horse was admitted to Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg on Nov. 17 showing neurologic symptoms. The horse’s condition then deteriorated and it was euthanized on Nov. 18. A test came back positive for EHV-1 on Nov. 20.
In conjunction with the State Veterinarian’s Office of the Virginia Department of Agriculture, all exposed horses at the hospital were immediately isolated from the rest of the hospital population with strict biosecurity protocol and placed under quarantine.
All quarantined horses are being monitored twice daily for fever (temperature over 101.5 F) and other clinical signs. The hospital remains open and able to admit patients needing veterinary care.
The farm where the index case resided before going to VMCVM has been placed under quarantine. Horses at this farm are also being monitored for fever and clinical signs. The State Veterinarian’s Office has contacted all other horses that may have been secondarily exposed while at the teaching hospital.
There is no cause for alarm concerning the general horse population in Virginia. EHV-1 is a virus that is present in the environment and found in most horses all over the world. Horses typically are exposed to the virus at a young age with no serious side effects. A large percent of horses carry the virus with no clinical signs for the remainder of their lives.
EHV-1 routinely causes upper respiratory infection in young horses (weaning, yearlings, and 2 year olds) resulting in depression, a snotty nose, loss of appetite and a persistent cough.
Rarely, exposed horses develop the neurologic form of the disease. Neurological symptoms include incoordination that can progress to the inability to stand, lower leg swelling, the inability to urinate or pass manure, urine dribbling and reduced tail tone. Horse owners with concerns should contact their veterinarian.
Studies have shown that the virus doesn’t live long in the environment, but transmission via coughing or sneezing can occur over a distance of up to 35 feet. Direct contact with infected horses as well as contaminated feed, equipment, clothing, and tack can also spread the disease.
There’s a new spot to shop for horse lovers in Roanoke!
Tack of the Town, a consignment shop specializing in tack and equestrian apparel, has opened in Willow Tree Antiques & Primitives, across from Walmart on 220 in Clearbrook. The shop is located in the back left corner of the store.