Fall Registration

Thursday, August 19 - 6-8 pm
Tuesday, August 24 - 6-8 pm
Saturday, August 28 - 10-2 pm


Jim Gaffney 1935-2010

"Jim Gaffney had been riding horses for almost two decades but in Secretariat he sensed the finest running machine he had ever straddled. That the red horse had never run a race did not temper Gaffney's public enthusiasm, an enthusiasm rooted in the way he looked and moved to Gaffney. "He was strictly a powerhouse - his movement, stride and, for a horse who is not supposed to know much at his age, he sure knew a lot. He would change strides just right coming in and out of a turn, and he seemed to me so intelligent for a young horse. Nothing bothered him. I had been on a lot of two year olds in my life but this one really struck me.". He began calling the horse "Big Red"

This is how William Nack recalls the prescient nature of Jim Gaffney's enthusiasm about Secretariat in his definitive biography about the great racehorse. Jim would be his primary exercise rider for the next fifteen months and his enthusiasm never waned.

In June 2001 I had the great pleasure of going to New York to meet Jim Gaffney and for the last 9 years we shared a great friendship based on a love of horses in general and for Secretariat in particular. He really was the most enthusiastic, optimistic person I have ever met and it was hard not to feel uplifted every time I spoke to him.

People often say that life is a journey and I believe that is true. I also believe that those we are fortunate enough to walk with for a few miles enhance the quality of the journey. I feel so blessed to have been able to call Jim my friend for this last decade and so it was with a heavy heart that I learned, on Thursday, June 3rd , that his journey had ended after a brave battle with emphysema.

I know I'll go and see the Secretariat movie when it comes out on October 8th but I suspect it will be a bittersweet experience
for me. Jim wanted so much to hang on until it was released and it breaks my heart that he couldn't manage it.

I will miss talking horses and politics with him and hope he knows how many friends he had that were pulling for him. I also hope that Secretariat was waiting at the gate for him, with his saddle on, ready to take him the rest of the way.

God Bless you Jimmy. Thanks for everything,



25th Year of Summer Camp

Summer is here and so we start our 25th year of Summer Camp!

Rebecca and Erica are back leading the summer camp team this year and we are happy to have Nicole Pelrine assisting with teaching. There are many others (too numerous to mention by name) who come to help the campers, muck the stalls, and generally keep the place running safely. We are very grateful to all of you and you do a great job!

There are still a few places available for last minute registrations if anyone is wondering what to do with themselves over the summer - you will get hot and probably dirty but a good time is guaranteed.


Your Pregnant Mare: When will she foal, What to expect, and When is it an emergency?

Marisa Giliberto, DVM

As January first 2010 has passed us by, many horse owners anxiously await the first 2010 foals to arrive. This can be a very exciting time but also an exhausting time of sleepless nights waiting for mares to foal. This article will discuss predicting delivery, what to expect during foaling and what may indicate an emergency.

It is impossible to know the exact day a mare will foal, but there are many ways to help minimize sleepless nights spent waiting for a foal to arrive. A mare's gestation lasts an average of 340 days, so knowing the date of the last breeding can give you an excellent ballpark estimate for the foaling date. However, horses do not always read the book and gestation can range from 310-380 days. Although this seems like a huge range, mares tend to be consistent from year to year on their length of gestation. For example, if a mare had 345 days of gestation for her first foal, she is likely to be around the same for the rest of her foals. In addition to keeping track of breeding dates, there are many signs that you can monitor to help determine how close your mare is to foaling. First, most mares undergo mammary development ("bag up") 4 weeks before foaling. Second, waxy material forms at the teats, and typically indicates that foaling will occur in the next day or two. Third, muscles around the tail head will relax and the mare's vulva begins to lengthen to facilitate delivery of the foal.

In addition to monitoring your mare for physical signs that foaling is near, there are several products available that help pinpoint the time of foaling. Once the mare has mammary development and is getting close to her due date, Predict-A-Foal® is a great tool. By taking a sample of the mare's milk, the kit can tell you the likelihood that the mare will foal in the next 12 hours. It works by measuring electrolytes in the milk, which change right before foaling.

Another method of pinpointing foal delivery is a system called Foalert®. The Foalert® system consists of two magnets sewn into each side of the mare's vulva. When the mare begins to foal, the vulva separates and pulls the magnets apart, and a signal is sent to a transmitter which then sets off an alarm that can be programmed to call phones and pagers. This is a great system, though one should be aware that false alarms do occur if the magnet comes apart.

Once you know the foal is coming, what should you expect? Let's review the 3 stages of labor:

Stage 1: Contractions and positioning of the fetus (average 30-40 min; can last up to 4 hours)

Stage 2: Delivery of the foal (average 15min - no longer than 30min)

When does the mare need help?

  1. Heavy straining for > 5 minutes with no feet seen.
  2. Heavy straining for > 10 min with feet showing, but no progress.
  3. One foot completely missing (one foot should appear before the other, about 6-8inchs apart)
  4. Foot through the mare's rectum.
  5. Repeated shifting position/rolling without progress (stage 2 should take no longer than 30 minutes!)

Stage 3 Passing of the placenta (more than 3 hours is a medical emergency)

After the mare has foaled, it is important that your veterinarian check over the mare for foaling injuries. Injuries that a mare can sustain during foaling include rectovaginal fistula (hole from the vagina into the rectum), vaginal lacerations, cervical lacerations and severe bruising. Close monitoring of the mare and foal after delivery is also very important, to ensure the foal nurses and ingests colostrum, which is essential for developing a healthy immune system.
Best of Luck!

"Your pregnant mare: When will she foal, what to expect, and when is it an emergency?" by Dr. Marisa Giliberto, Wire to Wire, Vol 29, Issue 17, Jan 22, 2010, page 10.


Dr. Marisa Giliberto was raised in Unionville. She is currently an intern at the Equine Medical Centre of Ocala in Florida. She completed her studies at the University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College. Her passion for horses began with riding lessons at Harrogate Hills Riding School and later competing hunter/jumper. Marisa had the opportunity to work with Thoroughbreds at Woodbine Racetrack, which further inspired her to pursue a career in equine veterinary medicine. She is looking forward to working with a variety of disciplines. One thing Marisa misses the most about Canada is playing ice hockey, a sport she has played since she was five years old.

Marisa riding Omby and Sputnik

Congratulations Marisa - we are all very proud that you started your career at Harrogate Hills! We always say that all the smart kids ride here!!!


Please Remember



Summer is Here!

The horses are hot . . . . but there is always a shower waiting for them just round the corner

Write a Harrogate Limerick and have it posted on the walls of the barn . . you will find a few attempts in this issue but I know you can do better!

They soon find plenty of energy and are back out in the field, kicking up their heels and looking to see what trouble they can get into next!



When Nerves are Contagious

A new study from Sweden confirms what most riders already knew - nervous handlers make horses nervous. "When I was younger, I was always impressed by how my horse seemed to be able to read my thoughts," says Linda Keeling, PhD of the Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences. "They seemed to be able to detect when I was nervous despite my best efforts not to show my nervousness in any way. When I became a researcher, I thought this unconscious communication would be an interesting thing to investigate."
For the study, Keeling and fellow researchers, attached heart-rate monitors to 10 horses as well as 20 people (mainly women) with varied equestrian experience. The handlers were asked to walk the horses past an assistant to another point 30 meters away. After three such passes, the handlers were then told that the assistant would open an umbrella the next time the horse passed. The umbrella was never actually opened, however.
The experiment was then replicated with 17 different horses, again wearing heart-rate monitors, ridden by mainly women who were also wearing monitors. These riders did not participate in the previous trial and were unaware of the umbrella "lie".
Over the course of both experiments the monitors collected data from all the horses, handlers and riders. Analysis of the data showed that the women's heart rates dropped after the first pass, then rose significantly when they thought the umbrella was going to be opened. The horses' heart rates followed the same pattern.
Keeling says this data shows that the horses responded to unconscious physical changes that accompanied shifts in the handler's emotions. She adds that while she was expecting to see this in ridden horses, she was not expecting the handlers' emotions to influence the horses as much as they did.
"The horse is obviously responding to something that the person is doing," Keeling says, adding that some of the riders were observed taking a slightly tighter hold of the reins before the false "umbrella" pass. None of the handlers leading horses took a tighter hold of the lead ropes, but "that doesn't mean they weren't holding it slightly differently," she says. "With more subtle techniques we could probably pick up many more changes in the person's behavior that the horse could detect and be influenced by."

And while it's difficult, if not impossible to avoid becoming nervous under some circumstances, Keeling says, "even being aware of the signals we are giving is a step in the right direction, and we can control some of the more obvious changes in our behavior."


Thank You!

Thank you to all who bought juice, coffee or water this past fall/winter. I appreciate everyone's support and have submitted a cheque to Pat in the amount of $119.17. The purpose of this money was to contribute, in a small way, funds to buy supplies, resources, equipment or do repairs for our summer camp program. Pat and her staff will determine where the money would be best spent.

Eight years ago, when my son Nick started riding here, I would drop him off and go and look for a coffee shop. Nick never wanted me to stop at Tim's on the way over because we didn't have time. He had to tack up and groom! Back then the house at the corner of McCowan and Mount Albert Road had a convenience store and coffee urn. I would run in from the cold and buy a cup. When they closed I headed up Highway 48 to the nearest Coffee Time. What I wouldn't do for my coffee!

I thought maybe other people would like the convenience of coffee right at the barn and the new lounge seemed like good timing with the proceeds going to a good cause.

Hope you enjoyed! I will be back again in the fall.

The Coffee Lady,
Linda Clulow

Thank you Linda!


Heels Down

Many times the heel is not down because the calf needs to be stretched. A soft calf allows for the heel to drop below the toe when the foot is resting on the stirrup bar.

When the heel is "down" in a rider, it drops just below the stirrup bar. The more important thing, however, is how FLEXIBLE the calf and ankle are and how they absorb the movement of the horse.

The ankle plays an important role in helping absorb the movement of the horse under your body. It's a shock absorber.

If there is too much pressure on the toe of the rider, a stiff and rigid calf muscle and knee is present. On the other hand, if the heel is forced down too far, the back of the calf and knee also becomes stiff and non-spring like.

The front and back of your calf should feel soft and springy as should your knee. If you feel your heel is up then chances are you are gripping with your knee as well and you need to point your knee cap down to lengthen your thigh and drop the whole length of your leg.
The following is a simple exercise that will help stretch your calf to keep it soft and springy. Once you have found the correct place for your upper and lower leg around your horse, you should anchor that feeling both mentally and physically to help your muscle memory and subconscious mind take over positive position corrections!

Step 1
Stand facing the wall, about 3 feet away.

Step 2
Take 1 step forward with your left foot.

Step 3
Place your hands on the wall in front of you. Elbows slightly bent, shoulders, hips and feet are pointed directly towards the wall.

Step 4
Bend your left knee slowly using the movement to control the amount of stretch you feel in your right calf muscle. Both heels stay on the ground.

Step 5
Keep your right knee (back leg) straight and hold still for 15 seconds.

Step 6
To stretch the other calf muscle (soleus) in the same leg, slowly bend your right knee, making sure you keep your right heel on the ground. Hold 15 seconds.

Step 7
Slowly push yourself back to starting position.

Step 8
Switch legs and repeat both the straight knee and bent knee stretches on the other leg to completely stretch your calf.

These mental images will help your visualization of your new position!!

Now that the physical side of training your body has begun, now the mental training and conditioning begins!! Look for more information on your mental training at



How many different sorts of pyramids can you think of?

There are about 138 pyramids in Egypt -

These were built as tombs for the Pharaohs and their consorts over 4,000 years ago. But these are not the pyramids you hear much about at Harrogate.

There are people pyramids -

These occur naturally, from time to time, at Harrogate - how many people can you name in this pyramid?

Then there is the Pyramid of Riding - this is Pat's favorite pyramid! If you build your riding skills the way this pyramid is built you will have nothing but success.

Start at the bottom with Rhythm and Relaxation which should both be experienced by you and your horse - moving on to Contact that is comfortable and acceptable to the horse.

Schwung is a German word which means to set in motion, build up momentum, put a bit of life into, to be in full swing. We might call it impulsion.

You may have heard Pat talk about keeping the horse Straight - whether on a circle or a straight line. If you have accomplished all this Suppleness and, the ultimate goal, Collection, must surely be just round the corner.



There are 35 Harrogate horses
And some of them can even do courses
They teach us to ride
Both in and outside
They are WONDERFUL Harrogate horses!

They are black, grey, chestnut, bay, palomino
They eat grass, hay and carrots like a meano
It all makes them poop
So you have to scoop
To keep the barn all ship-shape and cleano

Pebbles, Penny, Scout, Sadie, Savannah
Are horses you ride in any manner
Jumper or dressage
Fancy dress - corsage
They really do it all for the glamour!


On the Light Side

Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end!

A bicycle can't stand alone - it is too tired

A boiled egg is hard to beat



Christine Benns Photography




  Would you like to advertise your business on this page?
$10.00 per issue, 4 issues per year.
If you are interested, please drop your business card, with a brief note, in the box in the Lounge, or talk to Pat.