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Hoof Beats The Newsletter of the Montana Hunter Jumper Association

September 2009

President’s Letter:

The show season is nearly at an end, and we’re pleased that shows have attracted about as many riders as in years past, despite the rough economic times.  MHJA’s membership numbers also are holding up, which is convincing proof of the enthusiasm and commitment of our hunter/jumper riders in Montana.  On behalf of the board and all show participants and members, I want to thank our show managers and volunteers for their dedication and commitment to the sport.  Without them, we wouldn’t have the number and variety of shows offering opportunities to competitors throughout the state.

Banquet.  You’ll find information elsewhere in the newsletter about MHJA’s annual banquet and awards dinner in Butte on Saturday, November 14.  This is a good opportunity to come and spend some fun time with your fellow horse lovers, as well as to eat some good food.  This year, our banquet will be a Sweet Sixteen birthday party for MHJA, which was launched in 1983.  The organization’s membership and show numbers have grown steadily over the years, so please plan to come and help us celebrate.

Logo.  At the banquet, we’ll also unveil our new MHJA logo and present the winning designer with a check for $200.  The logo contest attracted a large number of designs – far more than any of us on the board anticipated when we launched the contest earlier this year.  The board extends our sincere thanks to the many talented members who submitted designs.  We met recently and faced the very difficult task of narrowing down the number of selections to a reasonable number to mail out for general membership voting.
Look for a separate mailing in the coming days.  We strongly encourage everyone to vote in this contest.  The new logo we select will be MHJA’s emblem for many years to come.  We’ll be offering new logo wear also – sweatshirts, t-shirts, caps, and the like – so be sure to put in your vote for the design you like best.

Safety and horse welfare.  The MHJA board does a lot more than plan banquets and run logo contests. At each meeting, we discuss issues that arise during the show season or that otherwise need our attention.  Fortunately, there rarely are major problems to address, but we do have some recurring concerns relating to safety (for riders, horses, and spectators) and horse welfare.  We’ll be working with show managers to bring to these issues to their attention, so that our shows offer safe and inviting venues for competitors.
But responsibility for horse welfare lies first and foremost with owners, trainers, and parents.  Please read the related article in the newsletter, taken from a larger article in USHJA’s In Stride magazine, about the recommended number of competitions and classes a horse should be entered into.  As riders, owners, and trainers, we should always put our horse’s welfare above our desire for points.
I hope to see many of you at the banquet and awards dinner on November 14.

Joanna Shelton

Equine Management for the Long Run 

by Rachelle Wilhelm
(Excerpt from article in USHJA’s August 2009 In Stride magazine)
Make responsible decisions. Deciding the number of competitions in which the horse should be entered plays a vital role in managing his athletic career. While factors to consider vary, the points below should always be taken into account:
The physical condition of the horse. Is he at peak performance, or is he just coming off a break? The more physically fit the horse is, the better equipped he’ll be to handle the stresses of competition.
The elements in which the horse will be competing, including the temperature and humidity. The higher the temperature and humidity, the more of a strain the horse will feel.
The type and condition of footing. Soft footing is more forgiving on a horse’s legs and joints than hard ground.
The height of the fences. The higher the jumps, the more effort the horse will have to put forth.

For Peter [Pletcher, renowned hunter rider and trainer in Magnolia, Texas] the decision regarding the numbers of competitions in which to enter a horse depends on the individual. At his facility, he works closely with many amateur owners and riders. He often starts and shows young horses in the pre-green division and, once a horse is comfortable with his job, allows the amateur to show him as well. “I’m not at all against double divisions [i.e., four jumping and two under saddle classes per day]. I think a lot of horses do very well in them because allowing a professional to ride first sets the horse up to go nicely for the amateur,” Peter says.
Colleen [McQuay of McQuay Stables] also shows her horses in double divisions, but only when the horse is ready to take on the extra workload. “When I reach a comfortable place in the horse’s training, meaning that I know what he’s capable of and what he can handle, I have no problem doing double divisions,” she says. “I make certain that I adjust his fitness program and am careful in the schooling area to jump as few jumps as possible.”
How much can a horse handle? Veterinarian Steve Soule says there isn’t an exact answer, but the larger issue that owners and trainers should consider is the preparation each horse undergoes before competing in a class. “For example, while the typical hunter round might consist of eight jumps and take a total of a minute and 30 seconds to complete, the time leading up to the class is much more involved,” Steve explains.
If conditions are favorable, it is recommended in the FarmVet USHJA Horse Welfare Guide to set a limit of four jumping classes of 3’ or lower and three jumping classes at higher heights per day. (Emphasis added.) “You just have to balance your show schedule,” Peter adds. “The key is not to burn the horse out. Don’t show week after week. Learn to balance your show schedule and your horse will have a long career.”
In other MHJA News:


Three board members have reached the end of their two-year terms, and two have agreed to run for re-election. We’re very sad to report that one of MHJA’s founders and long-time board member, Pat Green, has decided that now is the time for her to relinquish her position. We all appreciate her long and dedicated service and hope to continue seeing her at our banquets and shows. Board members up for re-election are Joanna Shelton and Deb Anderson. If anyone is interested in serving on the MHJA board and helping manage the organization, PLEASE CONTACT A CURRENT BOARD MEMBER NO LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 30. (Board contact information is here.) We will mail ballots out in early October.        


The year-end banquet is upon us, and we have a lot to celebrate---an excellent show season without wildfires, several show offerings across the state, a summer of fun competition filled with wonderful horses and good friends.
It’s also a birthday for MHJA—our sweet 16!
For all of those reasons—and many more—it’s time to celebrate. Leave your show clothes at home and put on your party hats…. It’s time for our annual shindig.
The banquet will be Saturday, Nov.14 at the Butte War Bonnet Hotel. A no-host cocktail hour officially kicks off the festivities at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 6:30 p.m. Year-end, high point awards will be handed out, beginning at 7 p.m.
Dinner is a multi-course extravaganza, so come hungry because there will be a lot of delicious food.
Cost? $16 per person, which includes unlimited talk about horses, showing, training and tack.
Speaking of tack, if you have things you want to sell or trade, bring it to the banquet. We’ll have a table available to display all things horse related for an informal swap/sale.
To have a great party, we need everyone to fill out the form at the back of this newsletter and RSVP by Oct. 30.


Bring them to MHJA’s general meeting on Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. before the banquet. This is the meeting to air your concerns and help improve this association.


Four board members have reached the end of their two-year terms. If anyone is interested in becoming a MHJA member, please contact a current board member so we hold an election. Members whose terms are up for re-election: Pat Green, Deb Anderson, Joanna Shelton and Gayle Russell. (Board contact information is on the last page of newsletter and can be found at www.mhjanews.com.)


Thanks to everyone who submitted a design! We received dozens of great logos, so many in fact, the board had to winnow the options to a manageable number for MHJA members to choose from. The board’s top selections will be sent to all MHJA members. Please select the winner and return the form to Deb Anderson by Oct 30. The winning new MHJA logo will be announced at the Nov, 14 banquet.


Claudia Thorsrud of Bigfork announces the new arrival of Irish Gold Diamond, a 2009 filly by O’leary’s Irish Diamond.  “Honey” (her barn name) and her mom, Solo, came to be with the Thorsruds in August.  Solo, a granddaughter of Nijinsky II, the famous steeplechase grandsire, is in foal to “Irish” for another foal in 2010. 
Malika Coston, trainer and owner of Kootenai Creek Ranch in Stevensville, is adding a second jumping arena to her facility, measuring 180 feet x 200 feet.
The Missoula schooling show in May had the biggest turnout in its history. Riders reported a great day, a fun show, and a tip-top show arena. Applause, please, for the Missoula Equestrian Park and show organizer Susie Mayer.
John X’s June show at his facility also received rave reviews. The jumper ring was exceptional and the hunter derby class, held in a pasture, was tricky, in a fun way…. so came the reports from Dillon.
Rebecca Farm attracted a full house all summer, and as usual, competitors were appreciative of the wonderful, state-of-the –art facility. What’s not to like about excellent hospitality and a 400-foot x 400-foot area to ride in?
(We are always looking for more to add to our newsletter, if you have any, please send to



Please join us for the 2009 Montana Hunter Jumper Association Year End Banquet and Awards Ceremony.
When: Saturday, Nov. 14. No-host bar begins at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6:30 p.m., awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m.
Where: War Bonnet Inn, Butte, 2100 Cornell Ave.
Cost: $16 per person.
What: Multi-course meal, awards, MHJA birthday party
If you plan to spend the night, the War Bonnet will give MHJA members a special discounted rate. To make room reservations, call 1-800-443-1806 or 1-406-494-7800.

To get there: Turn North off the Harrison Avenue Exit.

(Also, MHJA will hold a general meeting at 1 p.m. at the hotel on the same day of the banquet. Any member who wants to voice concerns, suggestions, rule changes, etc. is encouraged to attend.)

Please RSVP by Oct. and send all checks to Pat Green, MHJA treasurer, P.O. Box 502, Belgrade, Mt., 59714.

Numbers attending _________  x $16=______________



UPDATED September 18, 2009