Saturday, September 20, 2014

Horses of Honor in Chicago

Cool artwork.  I love all the colors and designs!  ~Declan

Horses of Honor

All over the city, Horses of Honor are on display. These life-size fiberglass statues of Chicago's police horses were designed to raise awareness and support for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. There are 16 horses currently on display with 40 more expected to roll out shortly. The featured horses will be on display around the city through mid-November.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Suffolks Down Horses Need New Homes After Track Closing

A VERY IMPORTANT LETTER VIA DOVER SADDLERY!!  PLEASE SHARE AND HELP IF YOU CAN!!  Read more details about the track closing in the article below.  ~DECLAN

Dear Fellow Equestrian,

After a 79 year legacy of horse racing, Suffolk Downs has announced that it will be closing its starting gates at the end of the 2014 Season on September 29th. Many of the Thoroughbreds that have found their first careers at the track will be in need of new homes and jobs after the closing. While there will be a grace period after the track closes in order to allow horses to be matched with new owners, CANTER New England, a non-profit horse welfare group, expects that over 100 horses will need to be re-homed by mid-October. 

For those interested in purchasing one of the Suffolk Downs OTTBs, CANTER New England will be hosting an Open House at Suffolk Downs on Sunday, September 27th from 8:30am until 12:00 pm. Additionally, a CANTER New England representative will be available at the track on Wednesday, September 24th. If you are unable to attend the open house, please email CANTER at to schedule a time. Buyer resources, such as transportation, veterinarian, and guides to answer questions about transitioning a race horse to farm life, will be available to interested buyers. 

We here at Dover Saddlery have been a longtime supporter of CANTER New England and have purchased horses from Suffolk Downs in the past. In a further effort to help support the re-homing of these horses, we will be provide buyers of these Suffolk Downs OTTBs a starter kit that includes a halter, lead rope and a $20 Dover Saddlery gift certificate.

If you'd like to view available horses, please visit CANTER New England, and join us for the Open House at Suffolk Downs later this month. Keep following our blog for updates and special features on the promising Suffolk Downs OTTBs that are in need of a new home to help take them to their next winner's circle.

Please feel free to forward this email to your fellow equestrians and help spread the news.


Stephen L. Day
President & CEO, Dover Saddlery
Suffolk Downs and Canter

Where 700 Horses At Suffolk Downs Will Go After The Races Shut Down

A Suffolk Downs horse race is seen here in this 2007 file photo. (Lisa Poole/AP)
A Suffolk Downs horse race is seen here in this 2007 file photo. (Lisa Poole/AP)
BOSTON — There are 700 horses in the stables at Suffolk Downs in Revere.
In fewer than two weeks, the sounds of their thundering hooves will no longer be heard at the 80-year-old racetrack situated in East Boston.
What happens after that?
“Most of them will go somewhere else to race,” said Osvaldo Rivera, a horse trainer who has been working at Suffolk Downs for 30 years. “The ones who can’t compete will be given away as riding horses or ponies or whatever.”
Of the 700 horses at Suffolk Downs, those not fit for racing will likely be given up for adoption. (Delores Handy/WBUR)
Of the 700 horses at Suffolk Downs, those not fit for racing will likely be given up for adoption. (Delores Handy/WBUR)
Rivera said that the horses will likely all go to adoption.
“They can’t go to slaughter. We can’t do that anymore,” he said.
Suffolk Downs investors have been hemorrhaging money in hopes that a casino licence would turn things around, but thatlicense went to Everett instead.
Chip Tuttle, the chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, said the track has been losing money since 2006 to the tune of over $50 million.
Tuttle said that with the financial losses, it’s impossible to continue running the facility. He said the racing track will need to be shuttered by the end of the year.
The track’s closure would put about 1,100 track employees out of work. Those workers, plus blacksmiths and others in allied fields, could mean upwards of 2,000 jobs impacted, according to track officials.
Tammi Piermarini is one of those people. Over 30 years ago, she started her racing career at Suffolk Downs. She is now the third leading female jockey in the history of horse racing.
Jockey Tammi Piermarini speaks to media in front of the racetrack Wednesday. (Delores Handy/WBUR)
Jockey Tammi Piermarini speaks to media at the racetrack Wednesday. (Delores Handy/WBUR)
“I was 18 when I began racing, and I remember coming in my first day riding,” she recalled. “You see where we stand today? You couldn’t move, there were so many people. The crowds. It was almost like being at the Kentucky Derby. That’s how many people.”
Piermarini had hoped for a return to those golden days of horse racing, but said her hopes were dashed with this week’s casino decision.
“The loss of the casino is the final straw. That would have helped us out immensely. It would have brought more trainers in. It would have brought more riders in. And it would have brought a different crowd in,” she said. “It definitely would have revitalized the industry and would have saved a lot of people that had farms.”
George Brown has a farm in Rehoboth. He says closing Suffolk Downs means the end of a family legacy.
“My farm has been in my family since 1850. I have the original deed. My great-great-grandfather bought the farm for $575. As far as my farm is concerned: with horses, it’s done,” Brown said.
The final Suffolk Downs horse race is scheduled for Sept. 29. The track will close for good in December.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

3D Printed Horse Jump at the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix

This is really cool! I love the jump - it's just amazing - the technology is unbelievable.  This would be fun to make! ~Declan

3D Printed Horse Jump Takes First Place at the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix

 By Scott J Grunewald On                                 

Equestrian competition producer HITS Inc recently held the Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix and featured a horse jump 3D printed to look like a syringe full of the main sponsors veterinary surgical aid product Dormosedan Gel.

syringe jump 3d printing

HITS inc. president Tom Struzzieri also happens to be on the board of the State University of New York New Paltz 3D Printing Initiative. The SUNY Advanced Manufacturing Center director and dean of the School of Science and Engineering Daniel Freedman oversaw the 3D printed horse jump project, which had his team create and assemble it for the race. The only part of the build that wasn’t 3D printed was the barrel of the syringe, which was made of 6” PVC pipe.

The 3D printed parts were made on a Stratasys Dimension 1200ES, an industrial FDM printer that uses high quality ABSplus thermoplastic. It took Freedman and Assistant Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Center Kat Wilson – who designed the jump and built most of it -  about 10 days to print all of the components, and then another four days to paint and assemble the syringe shaped horse jump.

cad horse jump 3d printing

Because the 1200ES only has a 10″x10″12″ build plate, Wilson needed to be very clever in designing the jump. It needed to fit together seamlessly, and remain sturdy and durable during an event where it would be subjected to large animals potentially kicking it or stepping on it without going over budget and making it too expensive to produce. As you can see, Wilson ended up breaking the syringe up into 20 individual pieces.

syringe compare 3d printing

While the frame of the jump was a standard 3.5” wood jump rail, there was concern about how well the syringe would stand up if it was knocked off the rail or stepped on by a horse. Thus, Wilson’s primary challenge was to create a jump strong enough to survive contact with a horse. While Freedman told me that he believed it would have been okay if it was simply kicked or knocked off of the rail, he admitted that it probably would not have survived had a horse actually stepped on it.
Thankfully, the syringe-shaped jump never had to be subjected to a horse related stress test and it made it through the entire event completely undamaged. For his part, Struzzieri was very pleased with the 3D printed jump, and even expressed interest in creating more of them for future horse jumping events.

jump complete 3d printing

The SUNY New Paltz 3D Printing Initiative has created a unique curriculum for Digital Design and Fabrication aimed at creating an advanced-level workforce. The initiative also offers students the chance to work on projects for local businesses and industries and collaborates with local community colleges and high schools to expand 3D printing education in the region.
Here’s a great video about how 3D printing came to SUNY New Paltz:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Is the Horse Meat Scandal Really Over?

Warning that horse meat issue could recur

David Heath told the Commons some member states opted against taking action as they did not want to remind people what had occurred and hoped the problem would go away once the "press and media furore" had calmed.
Mr Heath, a minister who helped lead the UK's response, blamed large-scale organised crime based in Europe for causing the scandal, noting the problem will arise again as they were continuing to make huge sums of money.
Horse DNA was found in frozen burgers supplied to several supermarkets in January 2013.
Investigations also found other beef products sold by retailers, including lasagne and spaghetti bolognese, were contaminated while meals in schools and hospitals had to be withdrawn after it was found they contained horse meat.
Asked if he was disappointed no convictions had been brought following the horse meat scandal, Mr Heath said: "I find it enormously frustrating because (former environ-ment secretary Owen Pater-son) and I did absolutely everything we could to mobilise and to energise enforcement agencies across Europe to make sure that this was traced.
"I believe that at the root of this was large-scale organised crime - European-based organised crime.
"I believe that more could and should have been done by other member states to get to the bottom of it.
"But I felt that having raised the issue in European Council meetings, there was then a palpable feeling from some member states that once the media furore had died down then, well, 'let's not push it too hard shall we chaps'."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tennessee Walking Horses - A Dying Breed?

Don't let Tennessee's Walking Horse be a dying breed

Published Sunday, September 7th, 2014  As posted on
  • photo
The dust is finally settling from the 76th Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration and what may have been the worst attended in recent decades of the 11-day iconic Shelbyville event.
Photographs and videos indicate the 25,000 seat Calsonic Arena held about 3,000 to 5,000 people on Aug. 30, the final night of competition when the grand champion is named.
Industry diehards blamed rain, but that's a fallacy.
In 1966 in Shelbyville, the heavens threw daggers of lightning and buckets of rain onto the stadium and show ring during the 28th Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.
The towering bleachers were packed and nobody left -- even with lightning strikes flying, witnesses attest. That was the year Shakers Shocker defeated 15 to 20 competitors to win the World Grand Championship.
But that was before the sport was almost completely corrupted by "professional" trainers and owners who resorted to chemicals and other abusive methods to short-cut training for this steady and beautiful breed.
That was also before soring -- as we've come to know it today -- forced the horses to step unnaturally higher and further, all to avoid the pain when their high-shod hooves and chemically abraded legs touched the ground. Soring is the use of substances, painful shoeing techniques and objects hidden beneath outrageously sized pads that force the horses to high step around the show ring. Soring is what the world finally saw, up close, in videos secretly recorded in Celebration Hall of Fame trainer Jackie McConnell's stables by operatives of the Humane Society of the United States a few years ago. The tapes were turned over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and then to U.S. attorneys in Chattanooga. McConnell later became the first person in the history of the 40-year-old federal Horse Protection Act to be criminally prosecuted and convicted.
The upheaval McConnell's conviction caused in the industry and among fans of the walking horse continues to smother the walking horse industry and this beautiful, steady breed of horse. But it hasn't stopped the soring.
Only three horses entered the ring to compete for the 76th World Championship title. Abuse inspectors -- mostly USDA vets and technicians -- had disqualified the rest of the field. They were disqualified based on evidence the inspectors deemed to be signs of soring abuse.
The winning horse, named I am Jose, has no soring violation history, but other horses in his bloodline do. So do his owners and trainers, according to USDA violation records in a database maintained by Friends of Sound Horses, a horse organization that has taken a decided stand against animal abuse.
But the walking horse industry as a whole -- as opposed to horse fans -- has been slow to acknowledge the apparently rampant soring abuse: FOSH's database provides 28 years of Horse Protection Act and soring violations, showing more than 12,500 violations as well as a "Repeat Violators" report with hundreds of single-spaced pages.
Industry stalwarts have insisted that McConnell and his ilk represented just "a few bad apples."
For weeks leading up to this year's Celebration, officials touted a new "world class" trio of veterinarians who would oversee inspections to prove the industry's commitment to no cheating. But these officials neglected to disclose that one of the vets had never agreed to participate and wasn't at the 11-day event. Another had ties to the industry dating back years and to lobbying efforts to have the Horse Protection Act amended to be less protective (though it's hard to imagine how a 40-year-old protection act with only the first conviction in 2012 could be much less protective).
When the Tennessean reported gaping problems in the Celebration veterinarian committee, officials quickly backtracked, saying the vets didn't have to be present to oversee the inspections. Let us guess: Inspections by telepathy? Clearly the vets idea was a public relations stunt to protect the industry, not the horses.
Now these soring loyalists -- the ones who've ratcheted up the "big lick" with out-sized pads, chains, chemicals and whatever it takes -- are also fighting proposed amendments to toughen the existing law. The amendments are known as the PAST Act, and they would outlaw the pads and chains that hide and exacerbate the chemicals and foreign objects.
It is clear that fans -- along with plenty of owners of show-worthy walking horses -- stayed out of the arena this year in an effort to get the message across to the industry diehards: Walking horses don't need lumbering "big licks" to be exciting.
Shakers Shocker and the horses before him proved that when they so electrified crowds that not even lightning kept fans away.
Bring those horses -- and that natural gait with flat-shod hooves -- back.
Support the PAST Act. This industry doesn't have to die. It just has to return to its horse-loving, solid footing.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Gunnison Prison Wild Horse Program Suspended

More corruption with the BLM...  I thought they were supposed to PROTECT America's horses! ~Declan

Gunnison prison wild horse program suspended

In this 2007 file photo, an inmate works with "Norton" in the round pen with part of the herd in the background as part of the wild horse program at the Gunnison State Prison in Gunnison.  Tom Smart, Deseret News

GUNNISON — Disagreement over the costs associated with a wild horse gentling program at the Gunnison prison has led to its suspension, and efforts are underway to find a place for 1,500 horses.

The program's cessation means the Bureau of Land Management will move about 90 percent of the animals to out-of-state facilities, with a prison-imposed deadline to have that accomplished by Oct. 6.

"The BLM's Utah State Office has valued our relationship with the Utah Department of Corrections and regret that it has decided to terminate the Wild Horse Inmate Program at Gunnison," said Tom Gorey, acting spokesman for the BLM in Utah.

"This program has aided in the rehabilitation of inmates and has, through the gentling of horses, helped place animals into good, private care."

Gorey added that the state agency decision to end the program will complicate national efforts to make sure there is enough off-range holding capacity for wild horses and burros that are removed off public ranges.

Mike Haddon, deputy director of the Utah Department of Corrections, said the program was losing money and had very little inmate participation. The BLM was informed of the agency's decision on Friday.

"We are not able to sustain the program without losing money," he said. "The program was not cost-effective, and we do not know if it was effective in reducing recidivism. We do know it was not serving a lot of inmates."

Since its inception in 2007, the program had 175 inmates who gentled horses for the public to adopt through BLM-managed programs. Of those 175 graduates, Haddon said only 82 of them had been released from prison — too small a number to effectively judge if the program had any viable, lasting impacts.

Haddon said the differences over money arose in 2012 when the initial five-year contract was renegotiated from a per-head, per day rate to another model of reimbursement.

"There was a discrepancy and dispute between what the BLM believes the department should be reimbursed and what the department believes it should be reimbursed," he said.

An audit by the Office of Inspector General released last year shows a more than million-dollar discrepancy between the two entities that raised questions over the costs.

The Utah Correctional Industries under which the program operated reported costs of a little more than $5.3 million for the five-year contract period, of which auditors said $1 million was "questioned" —or not allowable under the terms of the agreement.

Of that million dollars, $928,000 was deemed "unsupported," meaning documentation related to the costs was insufficient, the report said.

The audit concluded that the discrepancy in costs and conflicting reimbursements arose from the use of different accounting systems between the state and federal government.

In the case of the Utah Correctional Industries — which Haddon said is mandated to be self-sustaining — the audit said its accounting records and financial statements were organized like that of a business enterprise fund and not typical of government operations.

The BLM estimates that it has overpaid Utah Correctional Industries by about $2 million, Gorey said, adding that the agency is in the process of securing an outside, independent audit to verify this figure.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Horse Gets Tattoo To Save Eye

Interesting story.  An unusual way to save the horse, but effective! ~Declan

Ace The Horse Gets Tattoo To Save Sunburned Eye

As posted on

A five-year-old Missouri Foxtrotter horse got a tattoo on Monday (Aug. 11), but it wasn’t cosmetic—it was to save his right eye.
Ace’s owner Beverly Bundren said she knew when she bought him two years ago that the ulcerations around his eye may turn into cancer one day. She said the connection between her and Ace was undeniable, and she bought him and immediately started treatment. Bundren said Ace’s right eye has too little pigmentation, so every time he is in the sun, his eye becomes burned and he gets sores.
She said she took him to Dr. Gary France at the Pea Ridge Veterinary clinic to get his opinion on how to save his life.
“I said let’s do what we have to do, and he said well if we can get it to heal, then we can maybe tattoo it….and I said okay,” Bundren said.
Fayetteville tattoo artists Jon Ross and Buzz Gaither were called in to work on Ace — the first horse, or even animal, they had ever tattooed.
“It was such a humanitarian cause,” Ross said, “To be able to bring this skill and crossover into the livestock world, and to actually help an animal.”
Ross said they tattooed black around Ace’s eye so light would be absorbed and not reflected, much like athletes put black paint until their eyes to not be blinded by stadium lights. The procedure took only 40 minutes.
“It looks absolutely natural,” Ross said, “Ace hasn’t had any problems since the procedure, so we are going to say it’s a complete success.”
Bundren said while her horse was under the needle, she could only think about how excited she is for Ace’s future.
“The fact that he can not have to stay in the shade during the heat of the day, and hopefully this will completely keep him from having the ulcerations anymore…if not, we will tattoo some more,” Bundren said.
She said she hopes the procedure done on Ace will give hope to other horse owners who may have a similar problem. Bundren said if a drastic procedure like tattooing had not been done, she may have one day lost her best friend to cancer.

Horses Help Teach Inner-City Kids

This is a GREAT story to read and share!!  Thank goodness for teachers like Ms. Almagor, who see the potential in EVERY kid to be AWESOME!!  And thanks to the horses who helped them see that too  :-)  ~Declan

Horses teach inner-city kids to 'get right back on'

As posted on USA Today

These high school students are fulfilling a dream that once seemed out of reach. Students at inner-city KIPP DC charter school are learning not only how to ride horses but also important life lessons. VPC

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sgt. Reckless - Meet The Only Horse To Become A Marine Sergeant

Meet the only horse to become a Marine sergeant

Meet the only horse to become a Marine sergeant

August 10, 2014 | 12:25am
Sixty years ago, a barrier was broken for the US military — the first animal ever was promoted to sergeant. But Reckless the horse was no ordinary beast. Serving with valor in Korea, she saved the lives of fellow Marines and was decorated with presidential citations and two Purple Hearts. In this excerpt from the new book, “Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse” (Regnery History), writer Robin Hutton tells her story.

In the spring of 1954, as the Korean War was winding down, Navy Corpsman Robert “Doc” Rogers decided to buy a Marine a drink.

“I heard stories about the guys. Marines would come in drunk off of liberty and they’d go down and say, ‘Let’s go down and let Reckless out.’ And they’d do it — just to see what trouble she’d get into.”

Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse by Robin Hutton

That Reckless was a horse didn’t really matter. She loved beer — and camaraderie.
“Sometimes the guys would be standing around talking and she’d walk right up to us and just stand there,” Doc Rogers said. “And somebody would be talking and she would look at him. And the other guy would start talking and she’d look at him. And another guy would talk and she’d look at him. It was like, ‘Hey, I’m a Marine. I’m one of you.’

“One night a bunch of us were all standing around in a circle, talking. There was a Marine lieutenant there. Lieutenant Louie was his name. And while we were talking, Reckless came up behind this one soldier and muzzled the back of this guy’s neck. Nipped him on the back of his neck. It scared him half to death and he screamed, ‘What the f—!’ and jumped and turned around. And he’s right face to face with Reckless, and shouted, ‘Get that motherf—–g nag out of here!’

“And Lieutenant Louie exploded on the guy and said, ‘That horse has done more for the United States Marine Corps than you have, or ever will do. And besides that, she outranks you. And if I ever hear you talking to that horse like that again, I’m going to have you written up and court-martialed.’”

Reckless is trained not to be spooked by the noise of rifles.  Photo: Command Museum, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego

‘Reckless ! Let’s call her Reckless!” a voice cried out from the crowd of Marines gathered around their newest recruit. The name might have seemed ill-suited for a small, chestnut-colored horse with a blaze down her forehead and three white stockings.

But to the Recoilless Rifle Platoon of the 5th Marines, the moniker was perfect — it was their radio call sign and captured the toss-caution-to-the-wind attitude of men who relied on the “reckless” rifle.
The little Mongolian mare was born Ah-Chim-Hai, or “Flame-of-the-Morning,” and raised to race at a Seoul thoroughbred track. She officially joined the Marines on Oct. 26, 1952, after the commander of the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, Eric Pedersen, bought her for $250.

Marines lace canisters of ammunition onto RecklessPhoto: Command Museum, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego

Not as a mascot, but because his unit desperately needed help hauling heavy guns and artillery over Korea’s rugged terrain. Trucks simply couldn’t negotiate the steep, rutted mountains, especially in frigid, icy conditions. Pedersen realized a horse would make the ideal ammunitions carrier.

Because it had no wheels and sat on a tripod, the 75 recoilless rifle, at 6-feet-10 inches long and weighing nearly 115 pounds, was awkward and challenging to carry; moving it in the field usually required three and at times four men, though sometimes two could manage. It could throw a 75 mm shell several thousand yards with extreme precision.

Reckless was put through “hoof camp,” learning how to get on and off a trailer, carry the rifle and ammunition, and not stand behind the gun as it was fired. The horse was even taught to lie down or kneel in case she needed to crawl into a shallow bunker for protection from incoming fire.

After much experimentation, the platoon found Reckless could safely and easily carry six rounds of recoilless rifle ammunition in canisters without much trouble. Yet in the heat of battle, they found she could tote eight to 10 rounds, if necessary.

Reckless on a hill with the gun crew.Photo: USMC History Division, Quantico, VA

The day of Reckless’s long-awaited “baptism by fire” finally arrived in late November 1952. The intended firing line was the colorfully nicknamed “Hedy’s Crotch,” a valley between outposts Ingrid to the south and Hedy to the north (the Marines named the hills after famous actresses), in the center sector of the Jamestown Line.

The Jamestown Line was a series of defensive positions occupied by UN forces stretching about 35 miles from the Imjim River near Munsan-ni, to a point east of Kumhwa, South Korea. The distance from camp to the firing site was 2¹/₂ miles. Part of the way could be traveled by Jeep, but the final five hundred yards was a steep climb to the ridgeline.

Three trucks were sent out at 10-minute intervals. The squad, led by Lt. Pederson and Sgt. Ralph Sherman, and weapon went out first, followed by Reckless in her trailer and finally the ammunition.
When they reached the base of the ridge, Reckless sensed something was up. She clambered out of the trailer, and headed straight to Technical Sgt. Joe Latham’s pocket, sniffing for chocolate.

But her trainer stopped her. “No pogey bait ’til this is over,” he said as he strapped on six canister rounds of high-explosive shells on her and slapped her backside for encouragement. (“Pogey bait” is Marinespeak for non-issued food or drink, especially sweets.)

Reckless loaded with a reel of communication wirePhoto: Nancy Latham Parkin

Pvt. 1st Class Monroe Coleman, a Utah native who was Reckless’ minder, took the horse’s lead rope and started up the steep hill.

The key to a successful mission was speed and teamwork. And now they were about to see how their newest recruit would handle the pressures of battle.

Reckless and Coleman had just returned to the firing line with their second load when Sherman began blasting away.

The roar of the weapon echoed through the hills and dust exploded from the back of the gun.

Even though Reckless was laden with six shells totaling about 150 pounds, the force of the blast frightened the horse right off the ground. Coleman saw the whites in her eyes and moved quickly to calm her.

The second shot roared just as loudly.

Again, Reckless went airborne, although not as high this time. Coleman managed to talk her down. As she shook her head trying to stop the ringing in her ears, the third round left the tube. This time, Reckless stood closer to Coleman and shook from the concussion of the blast.

That third time was the charm for the rookie recruit because she didn’t jump and was breathing more easily.

She watched the gun crew fire the fourth shot and hardly jerked her head.

“The whole idea of what that horse was able to do was remarkable . . . ,” observed Sgt. Ralph Sherman, “and she did everything they expected her to do.”

As an adjective, “proud” didn’t do justice to how the Marines felt about Reckless’ first battle performance. When they returned to camp, they offered her a can of beer to celebrate with her comrades. She gulped it lustily and naturally wanted more.

Reckless with TSgt. Joseph LathamPhoto: Nancy Latham Parkin

From then on, Reckless was an indispensable part of the unit.

In just one day of battle, Reckless made 51 trips carrying 386 rounds (almost 5 tons) of ammunition, walking more than 35 miles through rice paddies and up steep mountains through enemy fire.

“They would tie a wounded Marine across her packsaddle and she would carry them out of there with all of this artillery and mortars coming in,” said Marine demolitionist Sgt. Harold Wadley. “The guys down at the bottom would unload the wounded off of her and tie gun ammo on her and she would turn around right on her own and head right back up to the guns. She was always moving and unforgettable on that skyline in the flare light.”

Reckless is loaded with recoilless rifle ammunitionPhoto: Leatherneck Magazine

On one trip, Reckless shielded four Marines heading for the front line. They returned the favor, throwing their flak jackets over her for protection, thus risking their own lives. Reckless sometimes looked like a “prehistoric hump-backed monster covered with large scales” wearing flak jackets head to tail, but the Marines valued her that much.

On one trip to the guns, Reckless suffered a shrapnel cut just above her left eye. Blood oozed down into her white blaze, but she kept going. Arriving at the guns, Pedersen checked her out, cleaned the wound with iodine and sent Reckless on her way.

Later that day, she was wounded a second time when another shard of hot, sharp shrapnel struck her left flank, behind the ribcage and in front of her hind legs. Again, the wound was dressed and she returned to work.

Neither gash slowed the horse even one step, and she was honored with two Purple Hearts.

A life-size statue of Reckless at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA.Photo: Kris Connor

On April 10, 1954, Reckless was officially promoted to sergeant — an honor never bestowed, before or since, on an animal.

There have been animals, especially dogs, which surpassed their roles as military mascots and were recognized with awards and even medals. For example, in World War II, an Army German shepherd named Chips attacked an enemy pillbox in Sicily and took four startled prisoners. Chips was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for valor. (The medals later were revoked following complaints that presenting service medals to a dog diminished their prestige.)

In World War I, a pit bull mix named Sergeant Stubby served with the 102nd Infantry, 26th (Yankee) Division, in France. Stubby was on solo patrol in the Argonne when he heard something in the bushes and found a German spy mapping American positions.

Stubby charged, the spy ran, Stubby gave chase, tackled his prey and bit him in the leg. When the patrol followed Stubby’s barking and a man’s cries, they found the German on the ground, Stubby’s steely jaws clamped emphatically onto his rear end.

The commanding officer of the 102nd reportedly was so impressed that he “promoted” Stubby to sergeant. But it was an honorary promotion, not an official one.

But honorary Sergeant Stubby wasn’t actual Sgt. Reckless, who was held in the same high esteem as any human Marine of the same rank.

No other animal has ever held any legal, officially sanctioned US military rank and been genuinely respected for that rank, except for Reckless.

Reckless would survive the war and come back to the United States a hero. At Camp Pendleton, she was promoted again, to staff sergeant, by the commandant of the Marine Corps. She bore three colts, one of which was promoted to private first class. She died on May 13, 1968, at the ripe age of 20. A statue of her stands at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va.

Her proudest day was the day they promoted her, Corpsman Doc Rogers recalled. “They broke us all out in formation,” Rogers said, “and they had Reckless there. And they had her corporal blanket on — had corporal stripes on the side of it, had all of her ribbons on there — and they promoted her to sergeant.

“They took the old blanket off and put the new blanket on her that had the sergeant stripes on there. And, of course, the same ribbons. It was the most beautiful horse blanket I ever saw.

“But, you know, I think back on that and I think she just acted like she knew everything that was going on. She just stood still. They read off everything and it was almost like she was just a part of it. She knew what was happening. She was a proud Marine.”

Photo: Gwenn Adams

Thursday, August 14, 2014

8 Reasons To Love Horses

Some really great reasons to love horses even more! ~Declan

8 Reasons You Should Learn To Love These Under-Appreciated Animals

 | By Alena Hall                                                                                    
As posted by The Huffington Post     

Courtesy of Sarina Lee Smith/Instagram | Cultura Travel/Tim E White via Getty Images

"If you are not a horse person, it might be hard to understand why some people love their horses so much," writes HuffPost blogger, bestselling author and relationship expert Margaret Paul, Ph.D.  "There is something about a horse's energy that creates a powerful shift in me. Whenever I'm at all tense, I have only to hug Stryder and I can feel my whole system coming into alignment. His heartbeat slows my heartbeat until the stress completely leaves my body. His soft eyes bring me into the present moment and I can barely contain the love I feel."

While this kind of experience is far from universal, there's a lot to recommend spending time with horses. For the people who love them, time riding and caring for these animals is full of natural, organic interactions and a deep sense of fulfillment.

Luckily, you don't have to be a horse owner to spend time with them and reap the accompanying benefits. Horse stables nationwide often accept grounds volunteers enthusiastically, and as well as offer riding lessons and trail rides -- and not all of these opportunities are restricted to rural areas. In fact, you just might be surprised by the unexpected places where quality time with horses is an option.

Here are 8 ways horses can help us truly thrive each day.

They can help us find common ground.


When spending time with horses -- from brushing their manes to guiding them along wooded trails -- we naturally sense a connectivity and closeness to them that, turns out, is rooted in science as well as our intuition.

“There are striking similarities between horses and people,” Dede Beasley, M.Ed., LPC, an equine therapist at The Ranch, told Elements of Behavioral Health. “Like people, horses are social beings whose herd dynamics are remarkably similar to the family system. As a sophisticated herd animal, horses immediately begin building relationships with people as members of their herd.”

They can help keep us calm.

horse hug

Pets have the incredible ability to reduce our stress and boost our sense of Zen by simply looking at us with those beautiful eyes -- and that power isn't limited to just dogs and cats. One of the many psychological benefits of spending time with horses is the tranquil nature they encourage within us. A Washington State University study suggests that teenagers especially are impacted by a horse's presence -- frequent time in the pasture makes them less likely to suffer from stress.

They can help us learn.

horse stable

A pioneering 2013 study from the University of Kentucky discovered that spending time with horses can help people develop a sense of empathy as well as enhance their social and leadership skills. The small group of nurses from UK Chandler Hospital who participated in the study noted the importance of self-awareness and non-verbal communication during their time in the stables.

"If horses can increase our ability to understand ourselves and others better, then the healthcare industry is a perfect place for studies like these," study project manager Lissa Pohl said in a statement. "When nurses and doctors benefit from collaborating with horses then ultimately their patients also benefit."

They can keep us healthy.

horseback riding

Research suggest that equine therapy, a method of integrating horse-related activities and their environment to assist people suffering from a variety of health problems, can promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth. A study commissioned by the British Horse Society in 2011 confirmed that regular horse riding and horse riding-related activities like mucking out stalls counts as moderately intense exercise and can help keep a person healthy. Additional research associates equine therapy with lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduced stress, and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.

They can help relieve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

happy on horse

While spending time with horses can provide physical and mental benefits to people suffering from a variety of illnesses and conditions, those who struggle with Alzheimer's disease find their time with these majestic creatures especially therapeutic. The disease is mainly associated with memory loss, but patients also find their personalities changing as the condition worsens, often leading them to feel more moody and withdrawn from others. Equine therapy seems to help them find a sense of calm and ease the frustration that comes along with living with Alzheimer's. A new study from Ohio State University researchers found that such an experience helps lift patients' mood and reduce incidents of negative behavior.

They can be our best therapists.

horse hug

Equine therapy activities, including everything from grooming and feeding to walking and riding, can substantially improve psychological health -- particularly in people who don't feel comfortable with the more traditional verbal therapy methods. Alongside a licensed therapist and horse professional, people can find relief for behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders and abuse issues, to name a few.

"The horse is the perfect mirror, they are very emotional beings; we're only starting to realise how intelligent they are," Gabrielle Gardner, a therapy counselor of Shine For Life, told The Guardian. The benefits of working with horses are also being increasingly recognized by therapists who work with autistic children.

They can help us live the present.

horseback riding

In an open clinical trial published in 2007 by the Journal of Human-Animal Studies, researchers explored the potential effectiveness of equine-assisted experiential therapy. Afterwards participants reported feeling more oriented in the present, better able to life more fully in the here-and-now, less burned by regrets, guilt and resentments, less focused on fears related to the future, more independent and more self supportive.

They inspire a sense of wonder in all of us.

horse sunset

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." - Winston Churchill

Horses have played a prominent role in mythology, inspired countless books and stories, and served as some of the most beloved family members of people across the globe. Many argue that there is no better example of both gentleness and power in nature, a combination that instantly leave us feeling lighter in their presence and free to explore the world we live in. Science aside, there's no denying this magical and moving quality they possess.