Horse Stories of 2015 [Video]
 By Winniefield Park   •   29th Dec 2015   •   1,216 views   •   0 comments
There have been a lot of great horse stories in 2015. Some captured the public’s imagination, others simply left many of us shaking our heads. Here’s a look at some of the horse headlines from 2015.

American Pharoah
After being the first horse to win the American Triple Crown in 37 years what is American Pharoah doing now? Taking well earned break until the breeding season begins. Coolmore Stud America, is no doubt waiting for the $200,000 stud fees to arrive with the select mares that have been chosen from a who’s who list of contenders. Apparently American Pharoah’s dance card is full and potentially, there will be 150 foals on the ground in early 2017 with owners hoping that in a few years time, they will repeat their sire’s historical Triple Crown record.

Region VII
If you don’t pay attention to the world of endurance riding, you may not be aware of the foment over the activities of FEI Region VII. The sentiment of most endurance riders is ‘to finish is to win’ in recognition that riding a horse over a long distance, regardless of how many cross the finish line ahead of you, is a worthy accomplishment. In Region VII however, it appears that ‘win at all costs’ may be the goal. Region VII has become infamous for running horses into the ground, and one competition in January of this year saw three horse fatalities, one a catastrophic fracturing of both front legs. Over the last few years there have been repeated reports of abusive practices, rule breaking, drugging, and switching out horses and riders during competition. The courses themselves are flat and sandy, lending themselves to full out speed, rather than the careful pacing that must be done to successfully complete a more technical trail.

The rest of the endurance world is aghast. In addition to the horrific stories of competition abuse and injury, horses that are catastrophically injured may not be euthanized due to cultural and religious beliefs. Rather, amputations are done and some fear that the animals are then simply turned out into the desert. There has been a general outcry that the FEI do something, but the wheels have turned slowly. Meanwhile, endurance enthusiast are concerned not only for the welfare of the horses, but that their sport may suffer too.

Carriage Trade
After vowing in 2013 to eliminate the use of horse drawn carriages within New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to have run up against some unexpected roadblocks. His plans have been thwarted by public opinion, celebrity publicity and political backlash. Most recently, rather than completely banning the trade, he proposes to reduce the number of carriages, move them off the busiest streets and move the stabling from their current location to Central Park. Carriage drivers, whose livelihood was at stake are taking a tentative sigh of relief, but those who believe that the horses do not belong in the heart of the city are still dissatisfied with the compromise.

Eventing Accidents Take More Lives
We’ve had more grim reminders that any type of riding is risky, and becomes more so when speed and jumps are involved. Portuguese eventer Francisco Seabra died while competing in Sevilla, Spain in February. Italian event rider Sabrina Manganaro was killed in April. After seven months in an induced coma, French Eventing rider Guillaume Pucci succumbed to his injuries sustained during a CIC2* event in his home country. Sadly, he died on June 14, exactly one year after Canada’s’ Jorden McDonald and British Rider Ben Winter died during competition. In the U.S. two horses were killed, Dream Girl and Conahy’s Courage, making many people again question the safety of the sport and some even worry that such incidents will be a convenient reason to exclude eventing from the Olympic games.

48 Million Year Old Mare and Fetus
A specimen of Eurohippus messelensis was found in Germany. Along with nearly complete bones, the fossilized remains also included fetus, and some soft tissue remnants. The early horse had four toes on its front legs, three in the back and stood about 15 inches tall. The size of the fetus and the presence of milk teeth lead scientist to speculate it was nearly to term when the mare died. Although the specimen was actually found fifteen years ago, it was not fully studied until recently using electronic micro-x ray equipment. This find give scientists an understanding of the evolution of mammalian reproduction. The original press release about the find was published in The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in late 2014 and hit popular media early in 2015. But after 48 million years, what difference does a few months make?

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