Friday, September 26, 2014

Double the Pleasure | 9/26/2014

Performing the Pas de Deux

By Pam Gleason, Photography By Gary Knoll

On a hot Thursday evening in May, Catherine Respess and Laura Klecker, both dressage trainers, have trailered to the dressage ring at Three Runs Plantation in Aiken. They have brought with them two jet black Friesian horses, Victor ISF and Waverly ISF. A small entourage of people has gathered under a tree near the ring: Nancy Wurtz, who owns Victor, and Carol Pexa, who owns Waverly, along with some friends and family. Laura's car, which will serve as the sound system, is parked at the end of the arena with the doors open.

There are other people using the ring for a lesson at first, and so Catherine on Victor and Laura on Waverly ride around the outside to warm their horses up. When the lesson is over, Catherine and Laura warm their horses are black, and the footing in the Three Runs arena is bright white. The contrast is striking, and the two horses are even more so. They carry their heads proudly with their ears pricked and they move with animation, power and grace. The ample feathers on their fetlocks accentuate their movement, and their long black manes, done up in French braids, draw attention their striking, high-set necks.

Catherine and Laura have come to practice for a Undtied States Dressage Federation Pas de Deux, which is a musical freestyle dressage test for two horses performing together. The Pas de Deux is fairly uncommon at United Sates dressage shows. It is more regularly seen in dressage exhibitions, and in shows such as those put on by the Lipizzans in the Spanish Riding School, or by P.R.E. horses at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. The class is being offered at the Mayday Dressage Show at Highfields in Aiken at the end of May: Catherine and Laura have entered and they are practicing for the test.

When the horses are thoroughly armed up, it is time to start the music and run through the routine. The horses seem to like the theme, and they clearly enjoy performing together. They are not identical: Victor is taller and Waverly is more short-coupled, but when they are performing together, they seem to be mirror images and any differences between them dissolve. After they have run through the whole routine with the music twice, it is time to take the horses home. They look hot, happy and relaxed, and Laura and Catherine are both and smiling.

The two trainers are good friends, and the idea to take part in the Pas de Deux came to them because they thought it would be good for their horses.

"I was training Victor, and Laura was training Waverly, and we just thought it would be great to do it," says Catherine.

Although the horses are not closely related, both were bred at Iron Springs Farm in Pennsylvania, which is one of the preeminent warmblood breeding farms in America, Nancy Wurtz and Carol Pexa, who did not know one another before, had both seen Victor on the Iron Springs website, and they both wanted to buy him. Nancy, who is from Atlanta, got there on e day before Carol arrived from Minnesota, so the horse became hers. Iron Springs trains its horses in dressage and puts some show miles on them before they are available for sale. Waverly, who is a year younger than Victor, was on the developing horse list, which means he was not yet ready to be sold. As soon as he was moved from the developing horse list to the roster of horses for sale, Carol bought him.

By coincidence, both horses ended up in Aiken. Neither has a great deal of show experience, and Catherine says that one reason that she and Laura thought the Pas de Deux would be beneficial is that they hoped it would give the horses confidence. The two practiced their routine once a week for about six weeks before the show. Right away they knew there was chemistry between the two horses.

"We did our first practice at Hopeland Farms, and they seemed enamored of one another," says Catherine. "We think they might have remembered each other from Iron Springs since they were both raised there. Then the next time we got together, Victor was just elated to see Waverly."

Catherine says that a lot of work went into creating the performance. First they had to design and choreograph their routine. The test would be a Training Level, which means that it needed to include certain complusory movements from above Training Level. Once they had the routine, they needed to set it to music. They chose a theme from The Game of Thrones. but the music still had to be edited to suit the choreography and then professionally remixed.

"I have a friend in Pittsburgh who has a recording studio," says Laura. "His wife events, and she stays with me in Aiken in the winter. So once we figured out the timing, he did the music for us."

Ten days after their Three Runs practice, the pair perform their test at Highfields in front of an unusually large crowd. The routine goes off without a hitch, and when they are done, everyone applauds. Their score, 75.25%, is more than respectable: it is the sixth highest in the whole show. If you go by the book, scores in the 70s are considered "fairly good," but in practice, a 75 is excellent.

"It was a wonderful experience overall; the score is icing on the cake," says Catherine. "The end result was exactly what you are aiming for when you are training a horse in dressage. The horses enjoyed it, and they matured from it. The problem we both have had with the boys is they are young and distractible. A lack of matuirty was something we both struggled with. Being together bolstered their confidence, and they were so much better as a result. After the Pas de Deux, I did a qualifying test on my own that was Victor's best performance yet - he was so focused."

Catherine and Laura both plan to train the Friesians up to the higher levels. Can we expect to see more Pas de Deux performances from them? Maybe even, some day in the future, a Grand Prix Pas de Deux?

Catherine laughs. "I would love to! And Laura and I are so close I could even see that happening."

In the meantime, there is a chance that Catherine will adapt their Game of Thrones theme for a musical freestyle she can perform on Victor by himself. Perhaps next year, the two horses will execute the same routine while ridden by their owners.

Catherine says that one thing that made the experience so special was the enhanced sense of teamwork it engendered. "So many people wanted to be apart of it, it was almost like it was a little party every practice. It gave us more energy, a kind of energy you don't alwasy get when you are training by yourself in the arena. Riding is not always a team sport, but is can be so much fun when it is."

What would she say to someone who asked her advice about putting together a Pas De Deux?

"It's totally worth it. It might be a good deal of work, but it's worth every bit of it. When we were performing at Highfields, I had goosebumps the entire ride. It felt so meaningful. It was just us, but it felt amazing to be a part of it."

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Secret Lives of Horses | 9/19/2014

Rosie and Flash

By Mary Jane Howell, Photography By Gary Knoll

This was meant to be a love story between two 27-year-old Thoroughbreds, Rosie and Flash, who were inseperable for 22 years. Just days before I went to meet them, however, Flash was euthanized leaving Rosie mourning her best friend.

Because their lives were intertiwned, it is impossible to tell Rosie's tale without hearing Flash's story as well. It is a story that began in northern California and ends in South Carolina, with the horses' owner, Dr. Carol Gillis, at its heart.

Dr. Gillis is a graudate of Univeristy of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and much of her professional career before she came to Aiken was centered around that school. She did an equine surgery residency there, earned a Ph.D. in equine tendon and ligament pathophysiology, and established its equine ultrasound service.

Horses were in Dr. Gillis's personal as well as professional life. She also had a small farm about half an hour from UC Davis. One of the horses at the farm was an ex-racehorse name Scharzi Zaca, who was a sprinter. Dr. Billis had purchased the mare when her racing career was over, bred her a few times and sold the yearllings at the Barretts sale in Pomona. 

Rosie was the offspring of Scharzi Zaca and a California sire named Pass the Glass. She was born in 1987 and Dr. Gillis was on hand for the foaling.

"She was the nicest of all Scharzi's foals," recalls Dr. Gillis. "Fifteen minutes after she was born she was licking her mon's fetlocks. She was always very affectionate."

By their nature Thoroughbreds are competitive. It is in their blood to race and try to best one another, whether they are galloping and playing in their pastures as younsters or at the track earning a living. Dr. Gillis recalls that Scharzi Zaca taught her foals to be at the front of the pack when it was play time and the broodmates and babies were turned out together.

After she was sold at auction, Rosie went to the track and raced exclusively in California.. Her trainer was tough. She often breezed twice a week leading up to a race. She bowed her tendon twice in her short career and when she showed up at UC Davis with her future in racing very much in doubt, Dr. Gillis bought her back. Rosie was just 3 at the time.

"Oce she had recuperated from all the wear and tear from racing, Rosie became my riding horse and then a broodmare," says Dr. Gillis.

Flash came into her life a few years later after his racing days were over. He retired with over $85,000 in earnings and made a seamless transition to the world of eventing and show jummping. 

"Flash was a lovely jumper and enjoyed showing, but he was often having medical issues, for example - two clic surgeris 60 days apart. Thank goodness he was such a terrific patient," laughs Dr. Gillis.

The two horses had an instant attraction to one another, and bonded quickly when they lived together at Dr. Gillis's farm.

"I tried to send Flash away to a professional trainer. He was such a lovely mover and jumper and I thought he might have a real future in the show ring," she says. "All Rosie did was run the fence and he went on a hunger strike of sorts. I had to bring him back after a few weeks, and that was the last I ever tried to seperate them."

Dr. Billis and her husband Juan Bucio made the move to Aiken in the fall of 2009. Flash and Rosie had shipped cross-country a year before and were staying at Ed and Debbie Scanlon's farm in Wagener.

"We had lots of animals to move, and it was easier to ship the horses commercially and ahead of time," expalins Dr. Gillis. "There were 22 animals total: the cats flew, while the dogs and birds rode with us."

About a year after her move to Aiken, Rosie began experiencing severe dental problems and was sent to the University of Georgia where she was a patient of Dr. Michael Lowder.

"Rosie had a rare bone loss disorder of the maxilla and mandible that caused the loosening of her top and bottom incisors and infection around the ottoth roots which was quite painful," says Dr. Gillis. "Dr. Lowder removed all of her incisors and a small portion of her maxilla. She has done very well since and is pain and infection free. Her tongue sticks out, but she can hold it in when she wants to - for example, when it is cold."

Rosie gets a normal diet of hay when in the barn and lots of grass when turned out. She gets a small amount of senior feed, and judging by her body weight and coat health, she metabolized her food very well. 

When Rosie and Flash were together they were never more than 20 feet apart. Rosie was the hyper one, bossing Flash around.

"About twice a week he would have enough and would have to haul off and give her a good bite on the rear," says Dr. Gillis. 

Flash was 21 when Dr. Gillis made the deicision that his days of being ridden were over. 

"He began suffering from shivers - a chronic nervous or neuromucular syndrome - and Juan and I just wanted to keep him happy," she says.

Shivers is often characterized by a trembling of the thigh muscles and a flexed and trembling hind limb. It can be terrifying to a horse. If they are lying down, it is next to impossible to get up. If they are standing they don't want to move.

Over the past severall months Flash began to go downhill and Dr. Gillis suspected nuerologic issues on top of the problems he already had.

"We had been treating him for spinal issues and also had him on GastrGard [an ulcer medication], but he wasn't getting any better," she says.

There were several times when Dr. Gillis thought she would have to put him down, but then the gelding would rally.

"Flash's anxiety level was increasing and in the final week of his life he was foever touching me, giving me these gentle nudges with his nose. The trembling was getting worse and we just knew his time was coming to an end."

When Dr. Gillis had made the difficult decision to euthanize Flash, she called her friend and colleague Dr. Lisa Handy to help.

Flash had eaten a good breakfast and was bright and alert. Rosie, however, seemed to know that something was not quite right. She was on "high alert," according to Dr. Gillis.

"When is was time to put him down, we walked Flash down to the field and the spot we had chosen for him. Juan walked Rosie down as well so that she could say her good-bye. All the other horses were lined up in the paddocks as we walked - silent and watchful. Rosie had the chance to nuzzle him one final time and then he was gone - it was very quick," remembers Dr. Gillis.

Although Dr. Gillis and Juan expected Rosie to have a mourning period, the level of her depression has them both worried.

"Rosie is mad, depressed, and spends a lot of time looking out the window of her stall to where Flash is buried. She goes into an uncharacteristic frenzy over the littlest of things. On the third night after we buried him, Rosie cried all night - it was heartbreaking," she says.

Although Rosie is slowly coming around, Dr. Gillis knows that the mare might never be quite the same. She and Flash were a true couple for more than two decades and her loss is one that Dr. Gillis and Juan understand all too well.

"We miss Flash terrible, but it was something that had to be done for his sake," she explains. "Rosie doesn't understand, so we are just giving her all the time she needs to mourn."

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ask The Judge | 9/12/2014

Questions About Dressage

With Amy McElroy

Amy McElroy is a USEF R judge, qualified to officiate at any USEF recognized show at all national dressage levels. She rides, trains and teaches at Fairlane Farm in Aiken and judges about a dozen dressage shows and events each year. In her popular Ask the Judge column, she answers readers' questions about dressage.

Dear Amy,

The dog days of summer are here. I have entered several recognized comeptitions this summer - both USDF dressage and USEA shows. I know sometimes jackets are waived in the summer. Can you give me any information about when you have to wear a jacket and when you don't?

                                                                                       -Too Hot

Dear Hot,

The heat is definitely upon us for the summer, and both the United States Eventing Association and the United States Dressage Federation recognize that hot weather will have an effect on what riders wear in competition. The USEA and the USDF are both governed by the United States Equestrian Federation rulebook. The 2014 USEF rules for dress code are different, depending on whether you are competing in an event (USEA) or a straight dressage (USDF) show. Let's look at what the 2014 rulebooks say for both disciplines:

-DR120.1. Classes through the Fourth Level require a short riding coat of conservative color or a cutaway coat. 
-DR120.2. For all tests above Fourth Level, the dress code is a dark tailcoat or dark jacket. 
-DR120.3. At all test levels, riders may wear jackets in other colors within the international scale. Contrast coloring and piping is allowed. Striped or multi-colored coats are not permitted. Tasteful and discreet accents such as a color of a different hue, or modest piping, or crystal decorations are acceptable. Neckwear is only worn if a jacket is worn. 
-DR120.5. Riders in Level One competitions [one day shows] and riders in opportunity classes in Level Two [one or more day shows with two arenas] or Level Three [two or more day shows with three arenas]. Shirts of any color are permitted and jackets and vests of any type are allowed but not required. No neckwear unless wearing a jacket. 
-DR120.8. In locations with high average heat and humidity on the date of competition, management can publish in their prize list that jackets will be waived for the duration of the competition. Alternatively, management can announce prior to or during a competition that competitors can show without jackets when extreme heat and or humidity is forecast. This waiver applies to all classes. However, competitors must wear a shirt with sleeves and a collar without neckwear and without decoration. T-shirts are not permitted. 
-DR120.14. If coats are waived, a solid color cooling or lightweight vest may be worn over a riding shirt. [A riding shirt means a sleeved shirt (long or short sleeves) with a collar and no neckwear – i.e. no stock tie, etc.] 
-DR124.6. Elimination: Dress code violations inside the competition arena at the discretion of the ground jury.

So, for rated dressage shows, check your prize list first. You may find that coats are waived. In this case, you should plan to wear a riding shirt with sleeves (long or short). You have the option of wearing a vest over this if you are uncomfortable without your jacket. Even if jackets are not waived on your prize list, they may be waived on the day of the show. For this reason, you should be sure you have an appropriate, sleeved shirt with you to wear in case jackets are waived. You won’t want to be stuck wearing your jacket because you don’t have the right shirt.


-EV114.9. A competitor who competes with incorrect items of dress may be eliminated at the discretion of the ground jury. 
-EV114.10. At temperatures of 85 degrees and a heat index above 85 degrees, or at the discretion of the ground jury or the organizer, competitors will be permitted to compete without jackets in the dressage. In such cases, competitor must wear either a long or short sleeved shirt of conservative color, without neckwear. 
-EV114.5. Horse trials Beginner-Novice through Preliminary: a coat of dark color or tweed. Tailcoats not permitted. Shirt, white or lightcolored. 
-EV114.6. Horse trials Intermediate to Advanced and Three Day: A dark colored coat, but no tweed coat. Tailcoats are permitted. 
-EV114.8. At eventing tests or when three phases of a horse trials are contested over one day, a long or short sleeved shirt with a collar and without neckwear, of conservative color. A riding jacket is not mandatory. [No matter what the weather.]

So, if you are riding in an event, I would check the weather. Chances are, coats will be waived. If it is a one-day event with three phases, you already know that coats are not mandatory. However, you do need to have a conservative-colored shirt with a collar, and no neckwear.

According to the rules of both the USDF and USEA, when coats are waived, you are still allowed to wear them. But, I would like to stress that, when coats are waived and there is extreme heat, most judges would rather see you ride without a coat for your own well-being. Some riders believe that they will have better scores if they are wearing a jacket, but this is not true. As long as you are neatly turned out, you should be fine. Remember, we are judging the quality of your horse, the use of the training scale and the beauty and harmony of your ride, not your outfit. Stay cool!

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.

Friday, September 5, 2014

News & Notes | 9/5/2014

By Pam Gleason

Palace Malice News

Cot Campbell, the president of Dogwood Stable in Aiken, is the kind of man who is not afraid to take a chance. Dogwood Stable owns Palace Malice, the winner of last year's Belmont Stakes. Mr. Campbell has a lot of confidence in his horse. In fact, he has so much confidence that this spring he approached the Willaim Hill Agency in Nevada and convince them to take a $5,000 bet on the horse's future. Campbell wagered that Palace Malice would be named the 2014 Horse of the Year. The odds were set at 8-1.

This was certainly a bold move at the time, and the William Hill Agency couldn't be faulted if they thought they had made an excellent deal. But lately, Palace Malice has been racing in a way that justifies Campbell's confidence. The colt emerged from winter training in Aiken stronger and faster than ever. He started his spring campaign with a win in the $250,000 Gulfstream Handicap in March and then went on to victory in the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap three weeks later. In May, he was back at New York's Belmont Park, where he won the WEstchester Handicap by almost 10 lengths. Next he was entered in the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard on June 7. He went off the favorite, and gave his backers something to cheer about when he megotizated his way through heavy traffic at the top of the stretch and ran away a winner.

If you want to be named Horse of the Year, winning all your races in convincing style is a good way to do it. If the 3-year-old California chrome had won the Belmont Stakes and thus the Triple Crown, it wouldn't matter very much how well Palace Malice ran - a Triple Crown winner would be pretty much guaranteed Horse of the Year honors. But with California Chrome coming up short (he tied for fourth) and Palace Malice looking like a champoin on Belmont Day, Mr. Campbell's $5,000 ticket is starting to get hot.

Dogwood says their colt will probably make his next start in August, most likely in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga. To date, Palace Malice has won seven of 16 career starts and has earnings of $2,711,135.

Repair Your Horse

If you are looking for an addition to your equestrian library, and even if you aren't, consider buying Doug Payne's new book. The Riding Horse Repair Manual: Not the Horse You Want? Create Him From What You Have. Doug Payne, who is currently competing in Europe on a Land Rover competition grant, is an accomplished event rider who is in Aiken to train each winter. Doug's mother runs a training and lesson business in New Jersey, and Doug and his sister Holly grew up immersed in the horse world. An A-Level Pony Clubber, dough studied with Jimmy Wofford, the legendary eventing trainer and coach. Before college, he competed in eventing and dressage and was the U.S. National champion in Tetrathlon, among other things. Then he went to college and earned a degree as a mechanical engineer.

Today, Doug is a professional horseman with an engineer's mind. As a horseman, he is someone who has a reputatin for being able to "fix" problem horses. When you have that kind of reputation, you are sure to get a lot of problem horses to ride, and Doug has thrown his leg over an immense assortment of difficult animals. Unlike many people who are good at ironing out equine behavior problems, Doug is also good at explaining how he does it. The Riding Horse Repair Manual addresses a wide assortment of difficulties and provides clearly expressed solutions that have worked for Doug. 

The book begins with chapters about preper training to avoid creating a problem horse. It then goes on to examine a number of common behavior problems, giving possible causes and possible solutions for each. How do you keep a horse from rearing, bucking, spooking and bolting? It all depends on the horse and why he is doing these things. Do you have problems with contact or with jumping? Doug has some ideas. Do you have trouble seeing a distance to a fence? Doug can help with that, too. This isn't a bag of tricks: the book emphasizes correct and consistenet riding, conditioning and horsemanship. But Doug does provide a number of interesting tips and some insight into what has made him as successful as he is.

The book is exceptionally well written, cleanly laid out and well illustrated, although one might wonder exactly how Doug found horses to demonstrate such a wide variety of behavior problems for his photographer. It is certainly a valuable addition to any library, especially for those of us who have not yet found the perfect horse. The Riding Horse Repair Manual is published by Trafalgar Square Press. It is 224 pages long and available as a paperback. The recommended retail price is $29.95.

Aiken Polo Pavilion

Next fall, Aiken Polo Club fans will be able to watch the game from underneath a new permanent pavilion. Aiken players have been wielding their mallets on historic Whitney Field ever since 1882, making it the oldest continuously used field in the country. The only permanent structures around the field now are the score board and slightly rickety announcer's tower. Each Sunday during the season, fans and spectators gather fieldside, either out on the sidelines or under the social tent. The social tent, which costs $25 per person for non-members, offers drinks, hors d-oeuvres and other refreshments. Sometimes the spread is good enough to replace dinner. For instance, this spring, there have been two authentic Argentine asados, offering enough meat and sausage to satisfy even the most carnivorous appetite.

Aiken Polo Club does not own the social tent. Instead, the club has been renting it every year for at least a decade. The cost of this is substantial. Because of this, some members of the Aiken Polo Club Board of Directors have been lobbying to build a permanent structure to replace the tent. There have been various plans and proposals, but until now, nothing has come to fruition. Building a fieldside paviltion si not as simple as it might seem. First there is the fact that Whitney Field is in Aiken's historic district, which means that any new structure built there has to pass the Aiken Design Review Board. Second, the club does not own the field. It is owned by the Whitney Trust. This means that anything built on the field will need to be approved and desired by three separate sets of people. Then there was the question of how to pay for it.

Over the last several months, all of these obstacles have been overcome, one by one, Aiken Polo Club and the Whitney Trust submitted a proposed design for a new pavilion to the review board last fall, and it was unanimously approved this December. A few more details were worked out this psring, and now everything is in place. There was a ground breaking ceremony for the new pavilion on Sunday, June 8 at the last game of the spring season, the USPA Dogwood Cup 4 Goal finals.

The pavilion will be 22-foot wide, 134-foot long, open-sided red cedar structure. In the center, there will be a two-story announcer's tower. Spectators will be able to gather under the shade of the pavilion to watch the game. The building will also be useful when Whitney Field is used for other community events such as the Aiken Soccer Tournament, which comes to the city each fall, and the Aiken Bluegrass Festival. 

The pavilion is being built by Lawn Master in partnership with Home Depot, and Home Depot is one of the sponsers of the porject. There are other sponsorhip and anming opportunities available. The easiest way to become a part of the pavilion, and thus of polo history, is to purchase a commemorative brick, which will be installed installed inside. Engrave them with the names of everyone on your polo team, or all your best horses, or sponsor an historic brick, engraved with a famous name from Aiken Polo history. (Take your pick!) you can design your own brick online on the Bricks R Us website, and they come in a range of sizes and prices. A 4"x8" brick is $100; an 8"x8" brick, $200 dollars. Want a premium location? Buy it for $500. Money raised from the bricks will go to the renovation and restoration of Whitney Field.

For more information or to inquire about buying a brick, visit

Aiken's Equines

If you are considering something new for your coffee table this summer, take a look at Mike Kleiman's book Aiken's Equines: A Photojournal. Mike says he has been photographing horses and horse people in Aiken since he moved here from New Jersey eight years ago.

"I'm not a horseman, but I appreciate horses," says Mike. "I'm drawn to their strength and their majesty."

Mike always loved photography, but it wasn't until about ten years ago that he began to study it seriously. Back in New Jersey, he was a member of the Raritan Photographic Society in East Brunswick. After moving to Aiken, he became a member of the Aiken Artists Guild. His photographs can be found at various places around town, including the Ridgecrest Coffee Bar.

"I wanted to make a book for my son, to show him my life for the last eight years," says Mike. "That is how this book came into being. Then I decided that I would also make it available to other people; I wanted to give something back." Many of the horses depicted in the book live at Equine Rescue of Aiken, and Mike says that a portion of each sale will be donated to the rescue. "It's a wonderful place and they do such good things."

Mike's images include action shots of horses in various disciplines, as well as pictures of horses and foals at home and at rest. The book is leather-bound, 11.5" x 15" and printed on high quality, glossy paper. It is a luxury item and priced accordingly: At $300, the books are available by special order only. For more information, call Mike at 908-331-2031 or visit his website:

Wando to HOF

This August, the racehorse Wando will be inducted into the Canadian Thoroughbred Hall of Fame. Wando was owned by Gus Schickedanz, who lives in Ontario and has a farm in Aiken. The horse, who trained at the Aiken Training Track under Mike Keogh, won the Canadian Triple Crown in 2003. The Canadian Triple Crown consists of the Queen's Plate (1 3/4 miles) in early July, the Prince of Wales Stakes (1 3/16 miles) two weeks later and the Breeders' Stakes (1 1/2 miles) in August.

The Canadian Triple Crown mirrors the American Triple crown. Both are for 3 year olds, and they are run over the same distances. Neither is easy to win: the Canadian crown was devised in 1959, and just seven horses have won it since that time. Before the Canadian Triple Crown itself was established, five additional horses won the three races, making a total of 12 winners in 82 years. Compare that to 11 horses to win the American Triple Crown since Sir Barton first achieved that feat in 1919.

Wando was the most racent horse to win the Canadian crown. That year he was named Canadian Horse of the Year. He raced succesfully at 4 and 5, and retired with 11 wins out of 23 starts and earnings of $2.5 million. He stood at stud, first in Kentucky and then in Ontario. Although he sired 66 winners out of 9\ starters, he was not an especially sought-after sire. One reason for this may be that his foals are generally big and slower to mature, while the marketplace favors stallions whose offspring can go out and win as 2-year-olds. At home on the farm, Wando was known for his easy-going, friendly nature. He was said to act more like a family pet than a Thoroughbred stallion.

Wando died unexpectedly of an apparent heart attack this January and was buried on Schickedanz's farm in Ontario. He was just 14. He joins his sire, Langfuhr, in the Hall of Fame, as well as some other brilliant horses that raced in Canada. These include Secretariat, who ran his last race at Woodbine in Toronto, as well as Sir Barton, who did the same thing. The star of the Hall of Fame is Northern Dancer (1961-1990). Northern Dancer, a winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, was a Canadian bred that went on to become the most influential and important Thoroughbred sire of the 20th century.

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.