Monday, August 8, 2011

Seeing Dressage in a whole new light …

At Professional’s Choice, there are riders of nearly every discipline: barrel racing, cutting, Three-day-eventing, trail, pleasure, and of course, Dressage. If you have ridden in the English style, it is highly likely that at some point you have taken part in simple forms of dressage. Yet, it seems that most riders do Dressage training rather grudgingly. It’s a little like eating a small portion of the vegetables on the dinner table, but really saving lots of room for dessert, which for many riders is to be allowed to jump. Only a few devotists find these introductory Dressage movements a partly captivating, partly art form. Personally, I’m at some odd point in the middle. As a child, I was part of Pony Club, where Dressage training was regularly required. My pony at the time excelled at it, and I was able to show him through 2nd level. But then the jumps became bigger, my pony became older, and it was time to move to my next horse, a monster 17.1-hand jumper (who knew as much Dressage as squirrel chasing). He and I were in love with Three-day-eventing, and at that time, our opinions to dressage were mutually reinforcing. In Three-day eventing, Dressage was that mandatory first day thing that came before the really fun stuff, jumping and cross-country. Every Three-day event became a toss-up to see if we would survive the dressage test. Jumping was so easy, because there wasn’t a required “free walk” where I had to reluctantly relinquish my reins, or that “canter-to-walk” transition where it was it was not unusual for him to decide to simply step out of the arena or to remain cantering in place. Then, about four years ago, I completely switched disciplines to Reining, and bought an adorable two-year-old quarter horse. He is the thoroughbred’s polar opposite, a sweet, lazy, loveable Gumby horse. He also has one very clubby foot. In Reining, one extremely important movement is to be able to spin in place. Now my sweet baby would try his heart out, but his anatomy and conformation made it just about impossible to spin to the left. Instead of letting him ram his legs repeatedly into each other, hoping he would magically figure out how to maneuver his awkward body, I took an entirely different route. Every day we launched into a series of Dressage maneuvers that taught him to isolate different parts of his body. We learned Leg yield, Shoulder-in, Haunches-in, and even Half-pass. Through a weekly regime of these movements, he learned to compensate for his clubfoot. After this training, we returned to re-learning the spins, starting with a Leg yield, and slowly moving into a spin. It was a wonderful experience for both of us to see it all click for him. He literally picks his leg up like a high stepping horse, then swings it over, and repeats this maneuver at high speeds. It is a delightful thing to watch as his spins to the left now keep up with any seasoned Reiner. As a side note, one of the local pony club girls horse came up lame on the day of the big Dressage rally event. Out of sheer desperation, She asked to borrow my reining pony, and was she surprised when she pulled in one of the highest scores of the day on a Reining quarter horse. As a result of this experience, my view of dressage has forever been altered. Suddenly, I see Dressage as an invaluable tool in my kit on how to help horses find ways in which to move their body on command. I still love all the fun events of riding like jumping and reining, but my feelings on Dressage are starting to shift from “sort of in the middle” to definitely appreciate this unique discipline.

If you are also beginning to see Dressage in a different light, or want to learn more about this art-form, I’d like to re-introduce you to Catherine Haddad, who is a master of Dressage, and who also happens to be one of Professional Choice’s leading endorsers. I’ve listed a few dates for her clinics below, and if you’re in her area on any of these times, I encourage you to check out her clinics.

Clinic list for August-September, 2011
Aug -9-10 clinic Hawk Hill Ranch, Bedminster NJ, Randi Leoni,

Aug 18-21 show Saugerties CDI-W

Aug 22-23 clinic Forest Hill Farm, Lafayette, IN, Jennifer Kaiser,

Aug 29-30 clinic Franktown Meadows E. C., Reno, NV, Amy Robinson,
Aug31-Sep 01 clinic Denver, Marian Nilsen,
Sep 5/6 clinic Briar Quest Farm, London, Ontario, CAN, Shirley Moraal,
Sep 8-12 show Gladstone USEF Festival

Sep 13-14 training with Morten

Sep 15-18 show Saugerties CDI-W
Sep 19-20 clinic Mt.Olive Farm Valley Lee, MD, Donna O’Connor,

Sep 21-22, clinic Shoeman Road Farm, Haslett, Michigan, Linda Clay

Sep 29-Oct 2 show Devon CDI-W

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Announcing New Endorser’s

This year, Professional’s Choice has expanded its classic line of English products to appeal to a broader audience with new specialty items like our Ballistic Brushing Boot, Open Front Boots in hard shell and leather, and a range of Splint Boots. To pair with our expanded line of products, we have added two new endorsers of our English product line.

James Atkinson was born in Yorkshire England and immigrated to Canada in 1990. He progressed through Canada’s young rider program with wonderful success and went on to ride internationally for Canada. In 2001, he competed at Rolex Kentucky, and received the Bank One Trophy for being the highest placed rider that owned his own horse. The following year, James and his horse Revy were chosen to represent Canada at the World Equestrian Games in Spain. James is now based in Southern California where he trains and produces upper level event horses. He has been a cross-country builder for nine years, is ‘R’ licensed, and has worked closely with almost all of the best course designers and officials. Currently, he is the organizer for Copper Meadows Horse Trials in Ramona, CA, and is currently competing at the intermediate level with Carolyn Hoffos’ German riding horse Gustav, while also training students up through preliminary level.

Taren Atkinson is a full-time instructor at Copper Meadows Equestrian Center with students at all levels. Taren has experienced a great deal of eventing success, competing on many horses through the CCI-one star level. Taren’s riding school is called Limerick Equestrian, and her students and graduates achieve success by practicing safe riding techniques, excellent stable management, and a commitment to enjoying horses and their sport.

Both Taren and James are a great addition to our group of Event riders and instructors who are enthusiastic about Professional’s Choice English products.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Should I Boot My Horse?

By: Joleen R Elston, DVM


To boot, or not to boot, becomes a frequently asked question. Opening any popular horse magazine or catalogue may overwhelm the reader with the diversity of equine protective leg wear. The right boot for you will be based on many factors--such as your horse’s conformation, movement, use, or even history.

There are many reasons to boot a horse, but the most important is prevention of injury. Although there have been many exciting advances in equine lameness diagnosis and treatment recently, tendon injuries are the most common injuries in performance horses, require long rest and rehabilitation periods, and have a high incidence of recurrence. Proper booting helps provide support to tendons, thus helping reduce tendon fatigue during work. Wear-and-tear accumulates from daily work and becomes a tendon injury.

Booting may also help to protect against contusions. Blunt trauma may occur due to the environment (rocks, jump poles, sliding, etc) or from the horse itself. Horses may over-reach with hind limbs and pull their shoes, bruise their soles, causing themselves to trip or fall, injure flexor tendons, or lacerate the heel bulbs. Forms of over-reaching include forging (same side hoof hits front foot), scalping, or cross firing. Another benefit of booting is to prevent against interference, or brushing, injuries. Interference is a term used to describe the limbs touching each other during foot flight. Horses may tend to interfere if they have conformation that is base narrow (narrow chest places limbs closer together), or toed-out. Toed-out conformation causes a horse to bring the limb toward mid-line during foot-flight, also called ‘winging.’ Booting may also protect against lacerations of the lower limb from any of these contusions, which are prone to develop exuberant granulation tissue (proud flesh).

There are many types of boots that perform different functions. Splint boots refer to boot that extend from below the knee or hock to the level of the fetlock or just below. If they are a simple form that wrap around the cannon bone (shin)- they are primarily used for brush control (see the Professional’s Choice Quick-Wrap®, Easy-Fit™, Competitor™, or VenTECH™ Splint Boots). If these splint boots extend down below the fetlock, they provide more support for the drop of the fetlock in weight bearing and support the tendon’s stretch (see the Professional’s Choice Ventech Elite, SMB II, or SMB 3). Bell boots refer to small cup shaped boots that fit around the pastern and over the hoof- these prevent injury to the hoof, hairline, or shoe pulling (see the Professional’s Choice Quick-Wrap®, Ballistic® Overreach, and Secure-Fit™ Overreach Bell Boots). Shipping boots extend from the ground to the level of the knee/hock or above and are used when transporting a horse in the trailer to prevent contusions. Alternatively- standing wraps with bell boots may be used for more support while stalled or during transport. Performance boots should not be used for support wraps during rest due to the lack of padding and horse’s sensitive limbs.

Booting may protect your horse against injury and ensure a long and comfortable performance career. There are many types of boots available on the market and many factors to take account of when making your decisions--please allow your veterinarian and trainer to help find the right product for your horse’s needs. Always remember, prevention is easier than rehabilitation!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Start of a Wonderful Partnership

Here at Professional’s Choice, we are firm believers in our company’s motto: “The more Comfortable the Horse the Better the Performance”. No two people believe in that motto more than Professional’s Choice founder Dal Scott, and one of our longest endorsee’s, John Lyons. These two men have long shared similar business minds, concurrent with the goal of keeping horses healthy and sound.

They met in 1988, at the Houston Rodeo and Livestock show. Dal was promoting his fledgling business and John was giving demonstrations. John stopped by the booth and was impressed by Dal’s radically different boot design from Professional’s Choice. Back in 1988, horse protection wasn’t such a high concern. According to John, “Dal Scott is responsible for many people using protective leg wear or protection on horses.” The only boots available during those days were simple leather splint boots or some leather hind boots for reiner's. John picked up a pair of boots, and quickly developed a respect for the thought and care that went into their design. When talking to John on the phone, he emphasized that he promoted the products without becoming a sponsor, because he truly believed in them. He believed in the product first, over time developed his friendship with Dal, and only after the passage of 10 years became an endorser. This is truly what Professional’s Choice calls a meaningful partnership, having our endorser’s use our products solely because they believe in them.

John traveled for years promoting his program and simultaneously using Professional’s Choice boots. Dal was impressed at one symposium, when with horrible acoustics and an attendance of 35 people, John gave his same amazing demonstration as he normally does before a crowd of hundreds. This one performance spoke silent volumes of testimony about John’s professionalism and dedication. After spending many years as friends and business partners, John suggested that Dal form a partnership with Wrangler. This idea went on to make Wrangler one of our strongest partnerships; one that still exists today. From traveling so much, John has encountered a number of copycat products trying to emulate the Professional’s Choice sports medicine boot. But we remain the only company to have put our boots through rigorous testing both with real scientists and with personal use. John enjoys having Dal send him new products, just to get his opinion and to see if they would apply to all horsemen. There is no room in this small piece of how two great friends, Dal Scott and John Lyons met, to tell all their great tales and adventures. We hope that this “behind the scenes story” will leave you with an insight to the amazing relationships the endorsers we all admire have with Professional’s Choice.

Check out John Lyon's website here: