Tag Archives: horses

Prince Philip’s Horses

“If it doesn’t fart or eat hay, she isn’t interested.” That, it is said, is how Prince Philip described his daughter Princess Anne. But if the amount of time he spent with horses is anything to go by, the Prince also had a fondness for hay-eating, farting creatures.

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“The Royal Family in 1957. From left to right, Princess Anne on William, Prince Charles on Greensleeves, Her Majesty the Queen on Betsy, and the Duke of Edinburgh on Mele-Kush (photograph from Her Majesty’s album)”

He was a polo player and later carriage driver. From 1964 to 1986 he was President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the longest-serving ever. He was succeeded by Princess Anne. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

A 1965 book The Queen Rides by Judith Campbell is about the royal horses and their riders. Here is part of the section on Prince Philip, with photographs from the book.

Prince Philip’s Polo Ponies

The Prince originally learned to ride when he was nine or ten years old, and the teaching was continued when he went to Gordonstoun by two well-known instructors, Mr. and Mrs. Saloschin. At school the boys not only rode, they were taught stable management and were expected to look after the ponies…

Prince Philip first began playing polo in Malta, when he was on active service in the Royal Navy. He has an excellent natural eye for a ball, and since he is also a lover of violent exercise, particularly of anything spiced with danger, it was almost inevitable that polo should become his first love in sport…

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“Prince Philip’s interest in his ponies is not confined to the polo field. He frequently visits them and discusses their well-being with Miss Donaghue. Here he is having a look at Global, a four-year-old, bred by the Queen”

Prince Philip’s Yard, where his polo ponies are kept, is small and compact. The tack and work rooms are at one end, the food stores at the other, and the ten loose-boxes face each other on opposite sides. The yard is paved in grey stone, easy to keep clean but disliked by some of the occupants, the thoroughbreds in particular, who mistrust its apparently slippery surface.

Miss Donaghue runs the yard with the help of three girl grooms, and Cain the Boxer. There is little she does not know of the care of polo ponies, and most of them are old friends…

All polo ponies have to be obedient and supple, quick on the turn, fast on the straight, and immediately responsive to neck-reining: that is, at once moving away from the rein pressed against the pony’s neck, an essential in animals that have to be ridden with one hand. English-trained ponies are given what is almost a form of elementary dressage schooling at first, and are taught to have their hocks well under them, the weight back…

The majority of the Prince’s blood ponies are bred by the Queen at Sandringham. Global, a four-year-old, is one of these, still playing very slow polo. He is a bit of an enigma and Prince Philip thinks he is the sort that could prove useless, or might be very good indeed. Only time will tell…

Bullseye

The Queen sometimes remarks rather despairingly that most of the horses she breeds seem to have lop-ears. There are certainly plenty of good-looking ones without this technical defect, but a pony called Bullseye, belonging to Prince Philip, does illustrate her words. By tradition lop-eared horses are supposed to be quiet and generous, but ears that flop sideways or forwards do tend to give their owners a clown-like, depressed appearance. In addition to his ears, Bullseye has rather ungainly, elongated conformation, and what can only be described as a somewhat loopy expression. In 1963 he was the despair of all, including the Prince, but in the next year Bullseye suddenly became an enthusiastic participant in the game. From obviously having regarded the whole affair as a ridiculous waste of time, he has suddenly decided that polo is fun. The Prince is very pleased with Bullseye, and that despite the fact that it was a fall with this pony that put his shoulder temporarily out of action in 1964. Bullseye slipped when travelling at speed, and his subsequent antics are described by his rider as akin to someone falling on ice – arms and legs splayed out in all directions, and skidding along on his stomach…

Lightning

Like some human beings, there are animals that seem to have everything in their favour – looks, breeding, potential brilliance – yet never quite reach the heights because of their temperament. The bright chestnut thoroughbred mare, Lightning, is one of these… Prince Philip speaks of her with affectionate exasperation as ‘The idiot woman!’ She does her best to bite him before mounting, and though she is very fast and should be a remarkable polo pony, she gets into a ‘tizzy’ and works herself up until she behaves like a ‘raving lunatic!’ in the company of other ponies. Even her tail cannot be bound up to keep it out of the way in the approved style, because she tears around swishing it madly, banging herself until it comes undone, or she goads herself into a worse frenzy. Whether, unlike the leopard, Lightning will ever change her spots and calm down sufficiently to fulfill her promise is a matter for the future.

Max Charge QH

There is another pony that should, all being well, join Prince Philip’s string in a few years’ time and whose début will be of particular interest. This is Max Charge, a two-year-old bright chestnut quarter horse, at present in Ireland receiving her first schooling as a future polo pony. She was presented to Prince Philip at the Royal Windsor Show by members of the Canadian Cutting Horse Association, who were touring the British Shows during the summer of 1964…

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“Max Charge, the young quarter horse presented to Prince Philip by members of the Canadian Cutting Horse Association”

She has the low head carriage, good shoulder and withers, short cannon bones, small feet, exceptionally powerful quarters and broad, ‘fork’ chest, that are typical of her breed. Like the majority of quarter horses she is also good tempered and intelligent, but is of the type that is seldom trained as a cutting horse, being a little less solid, and showing more of her thoroughbred blood. Had Max Charge not been destined for a royal polo pony, she would probably have been trained for taking part in the essentially American and Canadian competitions for reining or roping horses – for which the performance demanded is roughly equivalent to that of our top-class hacks…

No doubt when Max Charge does come to join Prince Philip’s Yard, the Prince of Wales will take as much interest in her progress as his father, wondering if, in the years to come, he may also possibly be able to play this quarter horse polo pony. [pp 38-45]

philip-plays-polo-p-44-Godfrey-Argent
“Prince Philip plays polo whenever he can spare the time”

In 1969 Prince Philip spoke of the impacts on the financially strapped Royal Family: “I shall have to give up polo fairly soon.” His example of cost-cutting caused outrage, but I think anyone who has a horse understands what he’s talking about.

The Queen Rides author Judith Campbell wanted to write about the Queen’s family horses, so she wrote to her. From The Australian Women’s Weekly, Aug. 4, 1965: “‘Looking back, I realize it was rather a daring thing to do,’ says Judith, ‘but I didn’t know then the Queen never gives interviews.’ The Queen took some time to think things over. Then she wrote, ‘I think it would be a good idea.'”

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Look online for copies or in used bookstores.

It’s a wonderful book for anyone interested in the royals or horses. Others of interest are The Duke of Edinburgh’s 30 Years On and Off the Box Seat about carriage driving, Lord Louis Mountbatten’s An Introduction to Polo (Amazon link below) published under the nom de plume Marco, and Ruth Oltmann’s Lizzie Rummel: Baroness of the Canadian Rockies (Amazon link in sidebar) where I learned a bit about the Saloschins and more about a remarkable German aristocrat who settled in Alberta.

The Royal Family posted on Facebook that, in his funeral procession Saturday April 17th, “The Duke of Edinburgh’s two fell ponies – Balmoral Nevis and Notlaw Storm – will pull a carriage designed by The Duke of Edinburgh eight years ago.”

General Jack and Warrior

Warrior was called “the horse the Germans couldn’t kill.” He was a war horse. The 15.2 hand Thoroughbred gelding was General Jack Seely’s charger. Gen. Seely was a British career soldier and MP. He was also the first commanding officer of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.

Warrior and Seely painting by Munnings Canadian War MuseumThe Brigade was comprised of three cavalry units and an artillery battery. They were:

• Royal Canadian Dragoons
• Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians)
• 2nd King Edward’s Horse (The King’s Overseas Dominions Regiment)
• The Fort Garry Horse (replaced the British 2KEH in1916)
• Royal Canadian Horse Artillery

Lucky man, lucky horse

Seely himself was called “the luckiest man in the Army.” He and Warrior narrowly missed death many times over four years of battle. They both returned to their home in England.

Seely and Warrior arrived in France in August 1914. Warrior first saw shell fire the next month at Mons in September 1914. In December, Seely was made commander of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. He and Warrior were at the 2nd Battle of Ypres in 1915, where the dismounted Brigade fought as infantry. They were at the Somme on July 1st 1916. In 1917 they were at Passchendaele and then Cambrai. In March 1918 Warrior and Seely led one of the last cavalry charges in modern warfare. It was the Battle of Moreuil Wood. The renowned horse artist Sir Alfred Munnings painted the scene.

Alfred_Munnings-Moreuil-Wood-wikicommons

War is over

In April 1918 General Seely inhaled poisonous gas. So his war was over. But Warrior’s was not. He stayed until the end. General R. W. Patterson took over command of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, with Warrior as his mount. Finally, in December of 1918, Warrior returned to Seely’s home on the Isle of Wight.

Jack Seely continued his political career after the war. He did not forget, though, that many hundreds of thousands of British horses remained in Europe. He spoke to his friend and colleague Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill, a soldier who knew the value of these horses’ service, successfully repatriated about 60,000 of them.

Queen-Mary-with-Warrior-1934-warriorwarhorse.comGeneral Seely was made Baron Mottistone in 1933. Warrior was a respected celebrity. He attended remembrance events and greeted visiting dignitaries to the island, like Queen Mary. He won the 1922 Isle of Wight point-to-point, a race his sire had won 15 years earlier. Jack Seely wrote several memoirs, including My Horse Warrior. It was illustrated by Sir Alfred Munnings.

Gen Seely and Warrior warriorwarhorse.comSeely and Warrior lived at Mottistone Manor for the rest of their lives. Warrior died in 1941, at nearly 33. Lord Mottistone died age 77 in 1947.

Warrior was sired by Straybit, bred by Mr. E. Hobson. Straybit was by Burnaby out of Myrthe. Warrior’s dam was called Cinderella. Her registered name is not known, and so neither is her ancestry. Seely bought her in 1902 after watching her in military manoeuvres.

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Warrior pedigree from Pedigree Query – tap to enlarge

Jack – or John Edward Bernard Seely – was the son of Sir Charles Seely, 1st Baronet, and Emily Evans. Sir Charles too was an MP and son of an MP. Jack had seven children with his first wife Emily Crichton, and a son and stepson with second wife Evelyn Murray Nicholson. Military and political service, the Isle of Wight and horses are found throughout the careers of his descendants.

Tap for Amazon

Brough Scott, son of Seely’s daughter Irene, is a horse racing journalist and former jockey. He wrote a biography of his grandfather entitled Galloper Jack and reissued My Horse Warrior. In honour of the centenary of World War I, Warrior was awarded the Dickin Medal for animal bravery in 2014. On his website Warrior, Scott writes:

“His greatness was also in the simple, uplifting, heroism of having faced danger without flinching and never having let fear take the reins. That same heroism was shown by the hundreds of thousands of horses and mules that were not blessed with Warrior’s outrageous slice of fortune for survival.”

Jerry and Oscar

Two new horses, two new horse pedigrees to explore. Jerry was easy. He is registered with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) as Mea Classico Duster. His full pedigree, therefore, is known and available.

jerry-and-oscar-sept-2019-photo-d-stewartOscar is a different story. He is a Thoroughbred-Quarter Horse cross, or an Appendix if registered. He entered shows under the name Playing to the Crowd. But is that name registered? His recent connections do not know. Nor do they know his parentage.

Jerry, 25 years old, was a career lesson horse at Butternut Stables in Hampton NB. Oscar is about 21. He’s moved around more and been a jack-of-all-trades – lessons, shows, general riding and best friend. They never lived together before, maybe never even met, but they’ve become BFFs.

Pedigree Chart for Jerry, Mea Classico Duster

jerry horse pedigree by d stewart 2019When a horse is registered with a breed association, his or her name is added to a lineage that goes back decades, even centuries. Full pedigrees are available from breed associations like the AQHA. Storied histories, maybe with famous names but also the unknowns like “Waggoner mare”. Like with all genealogies, you find full stories and mere fragments, the oddities and ordinaries. Genealogy charts map out elements of a family history, locating details in the big picture.

jerry-2019-detail horse pedigree by d stewart
Chart detail: top half for sire DJ Classico, lower for dam Mea Royal Duster (tap to enlarge)

Pedigrees are recorded so that breeding matches can be made with knowledge of a horse’s physical, genetic and performance background. That helps enhance desired traits and avoid genetically problematic ones.

It’s not just breeders who pay attention to pedigrees. Watch a handicapper at a horse race. You’ll hear about the lineage of the runners. A horse’s past performance is important in judging their odds of winning, but so is the performance and attributes of the horses in their lineage.

I got three generations of Jerry’s ancestry from his AQHA papers. Then I went to All Breed Pedigree for the rest. Jerry himself is not in its database but his sire and dam are.

Tracing horse pedigrees

Jerry-and-Oscar-Dec-2019-photo-d-stewartSearch for the horse’s registered name. If it doesn’t come up, search for the sire, dam or full sibling. Look at the information as closely as you do with online human genealogies. Horses with the same or similar names can be entered incorrectly. If a date or breed doesn’t make sense, check other sources.

Whether you get the information online or from a breed association, you still might want to put that information in your own style of pedigree chart. Making your own lets you design it as you wish. Include or exclude elements and make it visually manageable. You want a snapshot – something that gives the overall picture at a glance. So it’s a balancing act between the amount of information and the clarity of it. I designed mine to fit 7 generations back on an 11 x 17 inch sheet of paper. That’s a standard size at copy stores and is large enough to show details.

Tracing an unregistered horse

oscar-dec-2019-photo-d-stewartOscar’s pedigree requires more detective work. I don’t know his parentage or if he has a registered name, As a Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross, his ancestors could be in the Thoroughbred, Appendix or Quarter Horse registries. But, for sure, some would be registered with the AQHA.

His show name, Playing to the Crowd, gives the only clue. I looked on All Breed Pedigree for names that include Crowd in the years possible for Oscar to be their offspring. A sire in the Quarter Horse database is named Draws A Crowd. Lots of progeny and several have Crowd in their name, including a daughter named Play the Crowd. I also found a Thoroughbred mare named Draws a Crowd. She has some foals but none with names similar to hers.

I think that the QH Draws a Crowd could well be Oscar’s daddy. But I need more information, from people who knew Oscar when he was young or from the internet. Then I could do his pedigree chart as well.oscar-and-jerry-oct-2019-photo-d-stewart

Horse Fun Show

Saturday was a horse fun show at Butternut Stables in Hampton. And it was fun!horses by ring for show at butternut stables

Riding students on school horses, visiting horses and riders. A barn open house and bbq. Warm, sunny weather. A good thing because the yard and barn were full of horses, people and dogs.

It was my first time in a show. As the day neared, I got more and more scared. I weighed the validity of every possible excuse to not take part. Assuming that my preferred horse was sound and that I was too, I couldn’t come up with any good reason to bail.

The number of horses available was finite, the number of potential riders was not. The horses could not be overworked. Maybe there costume-kids-photo-jim-stewart.would be so many kids wanting to ride that I could do the “adult” thing and offer my spot to them. Fingers crossed!

The road alongside the stable was filled with vehicles as far as you could see. I took my helmet with me, in case my plan failed.

Saddle up

Elizabeth, the owner, said “You can saddle Jamie. You’re up for Lady rounding polepole-bending next.” “Are you sure he’s ok? Is anyone else riding him? I don’t have to, if you need him.” “He’s good to go,” she said with a little smile. Like she knew exactly what I was doing.

Saddled up and waiting, another rider asked me if I was excited. I figured saying I might be sick at any moment was more than she wanted to know, so I just went with “terrified.”

Then Jamie and I were called. My teacher Dani opened the gate for us. “Back straight, sit up tall,” she said. I did, and stopped thinking about the people lining the rail and the timer. Jamie and I loped up one side, trotted the poles and loped for home. We did it – in a respectable time! Yeehaw.

Nervousness? Gone. Next was keyhole, and we were first up. A line laid on the ground in the shape of a keyhole. Run in, turn around and run out, as fast as you can without touching the line. I’ve ever only shoe-race-photo-jim-stewartdone it playing around in lessons. Fortunately Jamie had more experience. We did it.

The shoe race – where I realized, after we started, that circling and dropping a horseshoe in a barrel was not going to be as easy as I thought. I slowed Jamie, got it in, then we knocked over the barrel. Disqualified.

Show Ribbons

Finally, the flag race. We loped around the ring, plucking flowers off poles held over the fence. Jamie shied at one flower, but I managed to grab them all. We got second place!2nd-place-ribbon-photo-jim-stewart

Whew! My competing was done. Jamie did more work than I. He went in a few more classes with another rider. He and I joined other horses giving rides to non-competing kids. And we took a teddy bear teddy-bear-photo-jim-stewartaround the ring in the costume class. Mya the teddy bear won second place.

To top it all off, I won a 1st place rosette. High points in 16+ group. I was the only one in that group. But I am very proud of it. I am also proud that I can now say that I have competed in a horse show.

timbit-pic-jim-stewartThanks, Elizabeth, Dani and the ring crew. Thank you, Wendy, for being there. Thanks, Jim, for taking pictures. And thanks especially to John Perkins – I wish you could have seen Jamie and me go!

School Horse

To call yourself a rider, one  horse can give you your best final test: a school horse. Horses ridden in lessons build up knowledge of school horse dennywhat makes a good, and bad, rider. When you can ride a school horse consistently well, you can say, why yes, I do ride.

School horses are the most even-natured and tolerant creatures in a stable. That is why they give lessons and the divas of horsedom do not. School horses will figure out what the mixed cues you’re sending actually mean. But not forever. When they deem it time, they require you to do it correctly. They make you search for the answers of how to ride.

Like every student at Butternut Stables in Hampton, I started on Denny. He is an old hand at lessons. He is quiet and gentle with little kids. With older students, he assesses their abilities and acts accordingly. Sometimes he helps you learn and sometimes he simply amuses himself. Just depends how he feels at that moment.

Anything a neophyte rider can do wrong, Denny knows. Anything a horse can do to foil a rider, Denny knows. He has a neck of steel that he can lock in place if he wants to go a different direction than you want to go. An hour on Denny is a full workout – legs, arms, and patience and willpower.

Ride on the wind

oreo and me leaving arenaBut Denny and every school horse I’ve ridden like to show you what they can really do. When they figure you can handle it, they’ll take you for a ride on the wind. “You wanna go faster? Okay!” You can only hang on. You’re trying to remember what you’re supposed to do. Your human teacher yells ‘legs, seat, reins!”

With or without you doing anything, your Pegasus suddenly snorts and stops. You put your parts back where they belong in the saddle. Then, as if he had never seen that vast plain in his ancestral mind’s eye, your horse goes back to plodding along.

At some point, you learn how to keep your legs, hands and seat where they’re supposed to be. Your horse slows down when you ask, speeds up when you ask. You’re working together. And running like the wind is fun. Yeehaw!

After graduating to other Butternut horses, I went back to Denny. I wanted to see what I’d learned. Quite a bit. What a massive thrill when we agreed on what we were doing!jamie and me in outdoor ring

But he’s a tough examiner and I never passed my finals with him. Denny and his stablemate Oreo recently retired to a life of leisure. Both great teachers, they will be missed by their students. Happy trails, boys.

Sadly, Oreo’s trail ended too soon. He passed away Oct. 26th. Robin’s Moocho Denero (his registered name) will not be forgotten. (He is the Paint with me in the middle pic. That’s Denny at the top and Jamie in the bottom one.)

John Perkins

John Perkins fixing bridle on Jamie August 2016On Saturday, July 22nd, John Perkins, of Butternut Stables in Hampton NB, died. He was my riding teacher. For many others, he was that and more. First, he was a family man and horseman. He and his wife Wendy have kids and grandkids and a stable full of Quarter Horses. They also have a large extended family. And an even bigger surrogate family of horse people.

The loss for everyone is devastating. In emotional ways and practical. So many posts on Facebook attest to that. I’ve been reading them, and crying, astounded by their eloquence and depth of feeling. A huge community of people in New Brunswick, and throughout the Maritimes, eastern USA and Florida are all feeling the same great big hole in their hearts.Watching horses wait to enter ring

John touched a lot of lives, and kept a lot of lives – human and horse – on track. He taught riding to beginners and coached experienced riders. He trained and showed horses. John was an executive member of Quarter Horse associations and a founder of the Princess Louise Park Show Centre in Sussex.

He also shod horses, doctored horses and acted as a midwife and nursemaid for new-born foals. John fixed vehicles, fences and stalls. And he drove a truck and trailer loaded with kids and horses to shows all across the eastern provinces and states.

He took horse-crazy kids (and adults) and turned them into good horsemen and -women. If all you wanted to do was ride for fun, he taught you. If you wanted to go to the next step and start showing, he was there to coach you, get you and your (or his) horse to the show ring and calm you both. When you wanted to buy or lease a horse, he made sure you got a good match.

The Butternut Barn

Butternut Stables signI met him four years ago when I wanted to resume riding lessons. Thanks to him, Wendy and everyone else both two-footed and four-footed, it was easy to start feeling like I belonged at Butternut . It is a family, a very large one. It is not uncommon to see three generations at the barn. People who brought their kids for lessons are now there with those grown-up kids and their kids.

When we started building a barn, John was our resource for where it should be, the layout and what we needed in it. It’s not finished yet, and I still have a million questions for him.

saddleOne thing I’m very happy about – I have his first show saddle. He bought it in the 1980s, he said. I liked riding in it, and I liked its history – the stories he told about it and the horses he had then.

John’s saddle to fill – I’ll never do it but I will forever treasure my time with him. Here’s my favourite horseman song, for you, my friend.

Salisbury Horses

“Outside this lovely home, drive down the circular driveway covered by mature trees and be greeted by an old barn and about 3 acres cleared ideal for horses.”

3063 main street salisbury mikedoiron.caThus reads the real estate listing I found online for a 5.6 acre property in Salisbury NB. It is now owned by the Dangremond family. They bought it so they could keep their horses Misty and Reiner at home instead of having to board them. A barn and cleared pastureland – ideal for horses!

Then, while putting up fencing last year, they were told that the property is zoned RU, Residential Use. They appealed for rezoning, a variance, or even a temporary permit to keep the horses there for even just a year. Denied.

Following the story on CBC NB news, I’ve hoped, even believed, that the town council would wind its neck in and allow the horses to stay. But the news report yesterday was that the horses must move.

Neighbours can board horses

Reiner and Misty beside barn
Horses beside their barn, from “Help Misty and Reiner the horses” gofundme page

A neighbour has offered to board the horses – yes, a neighbour. A distance of 150 metres, CBC says. Not a big distance for the Dangremond daughter to walk to see her pets. Also not a big distance for the town council to make whatever variance is needed so those pets can stay in their own barn (pictured above).

I realize municipal planners must do what is best for their region now and in the future. Evidently, the town foresees residential expansion in the area where the Dangremonds live. But, if houses are not going to be built in the immediate future, why not make an exception for the Dangremond horses with as many caveats as the council deems necessary?

location of propeerty google maps
Location of property in Salisbury area – click for larger view

Zoning Labyrinth

This sad story reminds me of when we were still in Ontario, hunting for a small farm in Elgin County. John Blake of Elgin Realty warned me that what looked like a farm might not be zoned as one. So I started phoning municipal, township and county offices to get an overview of the zoning basics. They could not give generalities, only a labyrinth.

One side of a road might be agricultural, the other – just as distant from a street light or a Tim Horton’s – is not. A township line at the edge of a property means another set of rules. Animals and farming may be “grandfathered” in after a zoning change, meaning they can stay only as long as those owners stay. Other times you can bring in new animals as long as the presence of farm animals is continuous. So, if the existing animals move off before the sale closing date, you can’t move new ones in. The planners told me to ask about each and every property.

Salisbury horses Reiner and Misty, photo Joseph Tunney CBC
Salisbury horses Reiner and Misty, photo Joseph Tunney CBC

That said, Salisbury has the chance to make a statement that matches its lovely rural-looking appearance. Let the Salisbury horses stay at home.

Misty and Reiner have a GoGetFunding page (updated July 7/17). You can also check the Facebook page Power in Numbers for Misty and Reiner.

Princess Louise Park

Sussex has the best all-in-one park I’ve ever seen: Princess Louise Park on Leonard Ave, just off Main Street. There are other recreation areas in town, but PLP puts a whole lot of everything in one place.Canada Day Princess Louise Park photo Jim StewartFrom spring to fall, every weekend, there is a special event going on in the park. Plus Canada Day and fireworks, even the circus (Great Benjamin’s Circus).  All that is aside from its regular usage by ballplayers, skateboarders and people walking with or without dogs.

Old bandshell Princess Louise Park photo d stewartA pretty treed area alongside the creek has picnic tables and a bandstand. Baseball diamonds, soccer field, tennis courts and skateboard park. Also a hockey arena, agriculture museum (housed in an old tank hangar) and senior centre.

Show Centre

And the PLP Show Centre. Filling the back corner of the park, it has a covered riding arena, an outdoor ring, five barns and a penning corral. There are horse shows almost every weekend from April to October. Put on by horse breed and equestrian discipline clubs, they’re open to everyone. The season starts with the Equine Review, put on by the Maritime Quarter Horse Association (this coming weekend, schedule here).PLP Show Centre 2014 mini horse competitionWhen horses aren’t in the Show Centre, other animals are. All kinds of livestock fill the barns and riding ring during the 4-H Club’s annual exhibition. It provides performance space and horse accommodation when an event like the RCMP Musical Ride comes to town (Musical Ride II).

Agility competition PLP photo d stewartOn almost as many weekends through the summer, the park hosts dog agility competitions on the playing fields. In September, a rod and gun show fills the hockey arena in September. Outside, on the grass, hunting dogs demonstrate their skills.

The park is large enough that more than one event can take place at the same time, and still leave space free. Only two events fill the entire park.Sussex flea market and car show photo Jim Stewart

Flea Market and Hot-air Balloons

On the weekend of the 3rd Saturday in July, is a huge flea market and antique car show. All the grounds and even the hockey arena are used for vendors.Atlantic Balloon Fiesta 2014 photo Jim Stewart

Then, the weekend after Labour Day, is the Balloon Fiesta. Hot-air balloonists come from all over North America each year hoping for good weather for dawn and dusk takeoffs. Also a midway and lots of food (curly fries!).

Summer Camp parade, Camp Sussex 1910 8th Hussars Reg. Museum virtual museum.caThe Department of National Defence used to own the land. Established in 1881, Camp Sussex was used in both World Wars for training troops prior to deployment overseas. The 8th Hussars (Princess Louise) armoured reserve unit is headquartered across Leonard Ave. When the base closed in the early 1970s, Sussex acquired the land and turned it into the park. The town has used it well.

Christmas Stable

Their stalls are decorated, the horses snugged in. Wintertime at the stable, and Christmas approaching. Stockings soon will be hung on stall doors.Fletcher in decorated stall photo dorothy stewart

The riding students who decorated the stalls will come to the barn on Christmas Eve, so one told me, to have a Christmas party with the horses. They will fill the horses’ stockings and give them their presents.

Samson aka One Kid CoolOne horse is getting a lot of stuff from his Secret Santa. I know because she told me. Whispered it, actually, so Samson couldn’t hear. And they are practical things that horses need but that he will also enjoy. A lot of thought went into choosing his gifts. (Amazon links below give you a clue)

I’m sure his Secret Santa has made a Christmas wish list for herself. She’s a girl in her early teens and she has a wide range of interests. But the only gifts she has talked about to me are those she is buying for the horses. The special, big presents are for “her” horse but she’s been shopping for small things for all of them. She’s very excited about it, about the shopping for them and the giving to them.

“Her” horse is not actually hers. He belongs to the stable. The other horses being shopped for are the stable’s lesson horses. The details of ownership don’t matter. We all have a special bond with our favourite horse, no matter how many others may ride him or her. The horses feel the same way, I think. They have their favourite riders too.Willie in aisle beside decorated stalls

I don’t know what they think of their decorations. Well, I do know what “my” horse thinks. When I was leading him to the cross ties, he tried to eat the holly off a stall door. So that is his opinion: food!Butternut Stables doors with wreaths

Burdock Dog

Leo covered in burdockThis is Leo after he walked for just a second into a patch of burdock. The burs didn’t just stick to his hair, they burrowed right in his face, chest and ears.  I picked off as many as I could right away. Before I did, his ears were stuck to the top of his head.

Having a poodle, I can easily believe the commercial with the man saying he came up with the idea for velcro thanks to his sheepdog who liked to run through the woods.

If you get a Poodle, get used to dealing with burs and plant life of all kinds embedded in his or her hair.  Even Charlie, a terrier with long silky hair, attracts burs like a magnet.  But they’re a bit easier to brush out because his hair is less dense than Poodle hair.

Burdock Removal

trimming Leo's ear after bur removalBest tip for dealing with your fine-haired dog:  cultivate a groomer as your new best friend so you can call them when you have a grooming emergency.  Last night, trying to get the mess out of Leo’s ears and head, I fervently wished my nieces who are groomers in Red Deer lived nearer me.

But I persevered with brush and scissors and finally Leo returned to normal appearance, albeit with shorter ears.  He had a row of burs firmly wound around the bottom of one ear.  There was no choice but to carefully cut off burs and hair.  Then I had to trim the other ear so it matched.

Leo brushed and ear length evenedI find a small slicker brush the best.  But even that can’t get into full burs knotted into hair.*  I carefully cut into the centre of those with blunt-nosed scissors.  Cut with the hair, not across it.  That opens up the bur so it will more easily brush out but avoids cut lines.  Use a comb to take the accumulated bur bits and hair out of the brush.  With a poodle, when most of the burs are out, brush backwards to get the small bits out and fluff the hair up.

I have been told baby oil on the bur softens it and makes it easy to brush out.  I tried it with my German Shepherd and found it no easier and just made his hair and my hands greasy.

After Burdock

Even after the burs are gone, I brush and brush to get every trace out.  If I don’t, and if they can, the dogs will lick at the irritating bit trying to dog brushes, scissors and combget rid of it.  In doing that, they can lick right down to the skin and cause hot spots of inflamed skin.  Gold Bond medicated powder is a godsend, especially for Leo.  His pouffy hair makes it difficult to put ointment directly on the skin.  The powder goes through the hair to the skin and dries it up.  He doesn’t like the taste so doesn’t lick it a lot.  Their groomer at Pampered Pooch in St. Thomas told me to try it when Leo had a really bad spot that we feared would need veterinary attention.  Within a week, it was better.

Best Tool Ever

*Since I first posted this (Jan. 7/12 St. Thomas Dog Blog), I’ve dog-hair-rakefound the best tool ever. A hair rake for double-coated dogs breaks up a burdock and pulls it out of dogs’ hair and horses’ manes and tails easily.