Sunset Valley Farm - Jane Mendelsohn

A full service Dressage and Eventing facility offering training and instruction for you and your equine partner. Over 25 years of professional experience.

Operating as usual

Wise words

From newborn to fully trained can take maybe 6-8 years, and by "fully trained" I don't mean higher levels of competition, so probably I mean "mostly trained to a more than basic level."

So, say that we just grab 7 years as that time when we have brought along the horse to a well developed stage.

Seven years, in days, is 7 times 365, which equals 2,555 days of development and training from birth to age seven.

2,555 is a lot of days, and we can then think----"How much of what this horse now knows and is trained to do was accomplished on any one of those 2,555 days?"

Well, I guess one answer might be 1/2,555th of what he knows.

The point being that on no given day is a horse going to make great leaps forward in its education. The truth is that the horse got to where he is today by hundreds and hundreds of tiny increments, stacked like playing cards, one upon another.

But I can DESTROY a horse forever in ONE DAY.

Literally. I have known of horses killed by having them flip over on tight side reins, horses run to death, horses spun in circles until their hocks broke down, horses flipped in rotational falls----

And I am not talking about true accidents here. What I am referring to is what can happen when a trainer loses his temper, or when a competitor gets too hungry, or when a rider gets too caught up in emotion to think about what the horse is feeling.

And even if a temper tantrum in a training session, or pushing too hard in some competition does not cause permanent damage, it can set training back by days, weeks, or even months.

So think this through---"On no given day can my horse make big progress, but on any given day, my horse can see big deterioration."

And then, if you feel yourself slipping into the red zone, stop right away. Don't go there. Just don't. It is not going to get any better, not today it isn't, but it can get a whole lot worse.

Hard to have emotional control sometimes? You bet. But having that regret afterwards is lots harder.

Totally agree!

There are athletes in all sports that have more natural talent than most of the others, and if those gifted people also have the drive to excel, they often DO excel.

Then, it is not uncommon for some of them, in later years, to become teachers. Because they achieved success and fame, it is also not uncommon to have students flock to them---

However, and not in all cases, but in some, the highly gifted athletes who could "just do it," may not always know exactly HOW they did it. They did not have to break various skill sets down into more bite sized component pieces the same way some who were less talented had to,

Those less naturally gifted athletes, through having had to learn the basic pieces, are often more able to explain the building blocks process better than those to whom it came naturally.

The point here is that the competitive success of an athlete may or may not be correlated to that person's ability to teach a sport or discipline.

The ability to teach and the ability to compete are not the same.

Now that’s a horse I would take !

Fun Friday Fact

Here’s a blast from the past. How did the sport of Eventing start? From the training of the cavalry. How’s this for a ditch 😱

Love this. I don’t care what your discipline!

Another not quite but getting there "lost art" is just getting out in the open and galloping.

The big reason that the idea of any sort of speed creates so much fear, I have to think, is because of the Catch 22 nature of this---

Riders are scared to gallop because they never gallop, but they never gallop because they are scared to gallop.

So don't start galloping---Start trotting in a galloping position, because if you are weak as a kitten, no wonder you are nervous. Get fit and strong FIRST, Seriously, don't you think of yourself as an athlete?

Then CANTER in a place you feel safe, but up off his back, with shorter stirrups, until you feel that you have control and security. THEN take it out in the open---

And another thing---Don't expect to get confident on some wingnut crotch rocket that wants to go Mach 2 with its mane on fire. Learn on something more mellow, and later, if you want to, step up your game.

You do not have to be some ring bound nervous Nellie, but you have to get tougher if you are going to be safe. (What I say does NOT apply to hurt or sick riders---)

Bask was a prolific sire. He raced and was grand sire of my beloved Starbounde and great grand sire of Sparky. I can see the resemblance.

The Arabian stallion Bask was so much more than that saying, "just a pretty face." He raced extensively in Poland, and later won in the USA in park, halter, and harness driving,

That is one thing that sets Arabians apart from many breeds, the better stallions were often also the better athletes, proven in hard competition.

The horse that I rode at Tevis, Rett Butler, was from the Bask sire line.

Want a sound, tough horse? Breed from or buy from a line of sound, tough horses. It does not guarantee you will get one, but it sure ups your odds.

Stallions for sure, because they can so influence a breed through sheer numbers, ought to have some proof of performance, and if for some reason, the stallion does not, make darn sure some direct offspring do.

It is a weakness in some breeds that some popular stallions have never been asked to prove what a horse like Bask proved.

Love this! I have used the slinky analogy myself. The image makes sense I think.

Years ago, when I was riding at the USET headquarters with Jack LeGoff, in So Hamilton, Massachusetts, Jack would always have our flat sessions begin and end with getting the horses "long and low, " stretching over their backs.

I can still hear him, in that strong French accent, saying, "You have to gymnasticize the horse."

He wanted the horse to be able to move like a slinky, flexible and elastic, unconstrained by tension.

So much so called "dressage training" gets to be the opposite, struggling riders with struggling horses.

So going back to Jack's idea may be a way off that downhill slippery slope?

Cuteness overload. Age 4 days.
Purebred Colt (Akai BBF x worth Five )

So excited to introduce Akai BBF’s second foal. A purebred colt born Saturday evening in WA state.

Congratulations Jody Shumway!



Finding the balance of positive encouraging teaching as opposed to candy coating...keeping high standards is tough. Without them the ultimate result is that no one gains, especially the horse. We need to aim for high standards for ourselves and our students even if it hurts along the way sometimes.

Whenever I even HINT about the idea that a riding instructor might be less than "tactful" while teaching, it is inevitable that there will be some comments about how damaging that can be to the student, and, when taken to extremes, I agree that it can be demeaning and insulting and negative.

But when I talk about "demanding standards" that is simply a case of the old familiar "It is what it is."

You are, for example, trying to sit the trot. You either bounce a lot, or you bounce a little, or you don't bounce at all. So, if your instructor has demanding standards, and wants you to get to the point in your riding that you no longer bounce, that does not make her a "mean" instructor.

I would rather have someone tell me the truth than be "taught" by someone who just says "good" all the time.

And I am totally aware that many instructors have learned the hard way, from having lost students that they could not afford to lose, to sugar coat to the point that reality is glossed over, and standards are relaxed.

"Tell me what I want to hear, or I will go find a teacher who will."

And while you can do that, chances are you will keep on happily making the same mistakes that you are allowed to make---

Whatever---Each rider's individual choice---

Horses saved me more times than I can count...

“How much weight can a horse carry?

In my experience, a horse can carry an infinite amount.

They can carry the weight of broken hearts, broken homes, and broken bodies. Countless tears sometimes comb their tangled manes. Moments when parents and friends cannot be there to help and hold a person, horses embrace and empower. They carry physical, mental, and emotional handicaps. They carry hopes and dreams; and they will carry the stress from your day when you can't carry it anymore.

They carry graduations, they carry new careers, they carry moves away from everything familiar, they carry marriages, they carry divorces, they carry funerals, they carry babys before they are born, and sometimes they carry the mothers who cannot carry their own baby. They carry mistakes, they carry joy, they carry the good and they carry the bad. They carry drugs and addictions, but they also carry the celebrations.

They will carry you to success when all you have felt is failure. They will carry you, never knowing the weight of your burdens and triumphs.

If you let them, they will carry you through life, and life is hard, life is heavy. But a horse will make you feel weightless under it all.”

-Written by Sage Sapergia

David Hoffman Filmmaker

Loved watching this. When I first discovered Eventing this is what it looked like... the heart of the sport remains but sad to see the long format gone. Loved watching these Legends in their heyday.

To see other clips from my film please visit and search the word "horse" on my channel. Three Day Eventing. All of the sports that I have filmed, I have never seen one requiring so much courage as this does. Man and horse. Or I should say/ man/woman and horse -- because in this competition a woman won. Spectacular sportsmanship all around. To get the entire one-hour film I made on Olympic Equestrian competition go to #horse #equestrian #3dayevent #3dayeventing #horsecompetition #davidhoffman #horsedocumentary #olympics #horsebackriding

Emirates Horse

I was doing some research on horses eyesight and found it fascinating so I thought I would share some facts with you guys - feel free to share 😊 if you have a horse who regularly spooks, have a read!😊🐴

Did you know horses have the largest eyes out of ALL land mammals? 😁

The first image is a humans eyesight and what we see. The second is a horses eyesight. They have a blind spot directly in front of them and cannot “merge” their vision into one image like we can. This makes it all the more incredible at how the horse can jump, especially when we ask them to jump “skinny” fences and combinations 😱

Horses do not focus their eyes the way we do. Have you ever seen a horse raising and lowering its head as it looks at an object? It does that to adjust the focal length, moving until the object comes into focus on its retina. When you see a horse shy at a sudden movement behind him or next to him, his peripheral vision has sighted the movement but has not yet had time to focus on it.

Even when the horse has focused as best it can, its sight is only three-fifths that of a human. In other words, when looking at an object twenty feet away, the horse sees only as much detail as a person would see if the object were thirty-five feet away. Simply, when you are out riding and see a strange object ahead, you will recognize what you are seeing long before your horse does.

So we can cut our horses some slack when they spook at something that we think is “silly” 😁

Another interesting fact is that the right eye reports to the right side of the brain and the left eye reports to the left side of the brain. This explains why horses may spook on the right rein and then after showing them the object they go past it fine, but when you change rein they still spook at it again on the left rein.

Contrary to popular belief, horses CAN also perceive depth. "Apparently, horses have many of the same depth-detecting skills that we have. They have true stereoscopic vision, despite having lateral eyes."

When you really think about it, isn’t it incredible that we, as a predatory being, can ride upon the back of a horse, a prey animal who’s every instinct tells it to run from us? 🐎

Horses are amazing ♥️

Thank you Sophie Seymour for sharing your research with us.

About sums it up! 😜

Life of Eventing in one picture. ⭐ vs ☠

Yes indeed.

There aren't many riders who haven't been guilty of what I am going to describe---

I/you/me/they/we grab a horse who has just been doing what a horse does and being what a horse is, and we put tack on that horse, get on its back, and go make it do what humans want it to do.

The horse has zero interest or desire to be tacked up and ridden. The humans who think that are either 8 year old dreamers, or older people who still manage to think like 8 year old dreamers.

So, if we want the horse to actually do human "stuff" rather than horse "stuff, " and do it in a manner that is at least somewhat cooperative, we have to somehow make that transition in ways that we don't trigger anxiety and discomfort.

Think---as in actually ponder---those two words, anxiety and discomfort.

Because if the things we want the horse to do, and the ways in which we try to get the horse to do them cause anxiety or discomfort, the horse is going to "resist, " simply out of self preservation, and God help the poor horse who RESISTS, because now the horse is being BAD, and now we have some sort of cosmic permission to remedy that incorrect behavior.

All over the world, today, May 24th, and yesterday, May 23rd, and tomorrow, May 25th, and every day, past, present and future, riders are going to get into this confrontational mind set with horses, and once it starts, it almost always snowballs into more struggle, more force, more coercion.

Simply put, horses and humans do not have the same goals. They don't, and it doesn't matter how many nice little stories we read as children about how Pony Petunia loved little Sally, and tried to please her.

So what can be done? Well, a number of things. Make sure that the horse knows what we want, by teaching rather than forcing. This means the rider must know how to teach. If you don't, learn.

Make sure the tack fits.

Make sure the horse is healthy, teeth, hooves, worming, feed, turnout, so many facets of horse management.

Make sure the horse is fit enough. Fatigue causes both anxiety and discomfort.

Use a long, slow warmup, as a transitional stage between standing around and being schooled, rather than just starting to demand.

School to educate, not to coerce, Take all the time it takes. Build a tiny layer, then build upon that, and then upon that, and then upon that. This might take years. It sure as heck won't take days or weeks.

Bad riding and bad horsemanship lead to bad situations.

Good riding and good horsemanship lead to successful conclusions.

So it is our fault when it goes poorly, and not the fault of the horse. If you can't handle that truth, you are not ready to be a horse trainer.

Merry starting to get it.

Spring Breeding Special

Breeding season is upon us. We can practice social distancing for your mare with fresh cooled shipped semen!

Standing at Stud Akai BBF

2011 purebred French/Polish Arabian stallion. Dormaine grandson. Former racing winner now competing in Dressage and 3-day Eventing. 15.2 H Great bone, legs and feet. Competing barefoot! Akai possesses the nicest disposition and can be handled or ridden by amateurs and children. Brave and sensible with three lovely correct gaits and a fabulous jumping style. He is a great all around athlete with the mind we all wish for in a competition horse. Shipped semen available. SCID, CA and LFS clear.

Spring special for April bookings. $650 fee until end of April. Located in FL.

Breeding season is upon us. We can practice social distancing for your mare with fresh cooled shipped semen!

Standing at Stud Akai BBF

2011 purebred French/Polish Arabian stallion. Dormaine grandson. Former racing winner now competing in Dressage and 3-day Eventing. 15.2 H Great bone, legs and feet. Competing barefoot! Akai possesses the nicest disposition and can be handled or ridden by amateurs and children. Brave and sensible with three lovely correct gaits and a fabulous jumping style. He is a great all around athlete with the mind we all wish for in a competition horse. Shipped semen available. SCID, CA and LFS clear.

Spring special for April bookings. $650 fee until end of April. Located in FL.

Standing at Stud Akai BBF

2011 purebred French/Polish Arabian stallion. Former racing winner now competing in Dressage and 3-day Eventing. 15.2 H Great bone, legs and feet. Akai possesses the nicest disposition and can be handled or ridden by amateurs and children. Brave and sensible with three lovely correct gaits and a fabulous jumping style. He is a great all around athlete with the mind we all wish for in a competition horse. Shipped semen available. SCID, CA and LFS clear.

Introductory fee $750. Located in FL.

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