Hunter enthusiasts were treated to the best in the nation during Hunter Spectacular week. The main focus was on the International ring, open exclusively to hunters all week, with 118 Performance Hunters competing at 3’6″on Thursday looking for a qualifying spot for Saturday’s Hunter Spectacular class.
Tuesday’s Ride and Learn clinic, held in the covered arena at the dressage venue and the Palm Beach Riding Academy, was conducted by Tommy Serio giving advice to riders of young hunters. Starting with a few gymnastics, Tommy stressed the importance of riding a straight line away from the jump, maintaining a release through the whole exercise, and not giving up if the horse gives up. When starting to ride a course he advised: “You’ve got to find the canter rhythm before you find the jump.”
The original speaker for the Lunch and Learn lecture was unable to arrive due to flight cancellations and was replaced by Dr. Scott Swerdlin, president of the Palm Beach Equine Clinic. Dr. Swerdlin spoke about parasite control and deworming for horses and how it related more specifically to “summer sores”, which are common in the very warm areas such as Florida. Worms are a major problem in these areas because of lack of frost to kill them off. Haberdina worm larvae, which can be found in the grass, can land on a horse’s cut and bury themselves into the skin, creating a summer sore which usually needs to be treated early and cleaned out surgically. Corticosteroids, often used in treating show horses, can inhibit the immune response and further contribute to difficulties in healing. If one horse has a summer sore in a barn, every horse in the barn should be treated with a single dose of Ivermectin for maximum control of the larvae.
Parasites can develop an immunity to some wormers over a period of time. If a barn has been on a program for 5 years, a fecal egg count is recommended to determine if that program has been effective. Manure management is most important in dealing with parasite control – containerize it, have it taken away from the barn regularly and if it rains keep it covered, as rain and heat can create a petrie dish. Dr Swerdlin also briefly discussed how easily fungus, another common problem here, can be spread through lack of proper clipper blade cleaning between horses. Continuing his suggestions for maximizing protection for show horses, he advised owners of horses showing on the grounds here to vaccinate for flu/rhino every 90 days.
Saturday evening’s focus was on the exciting $100,000 Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, with 28 entries from across the country, having qualified in classes during the week, making a bid for the top $30,000 first prize. The class, with one round this year, was won by the 16-year-old sensation Victoria Colvin who rode Dr. Betsee Parker’s Ovation and impressively won the second prize on Dr. Parker’s other entry, Way Cool. Victoria is definitely a rider to watch – this is her third win in a row.
Spectators were treated to a fox hunting exhibition before the class. Huntsman, master, hounds and a field of riders demonstrated their colourful sport in the International arena.