Around the Region Horse & Pony May-July 2016

Foaling prediction technology wins grand prize
by Carolyn Wanamaker
    It’s foaling season in the horse world, meaning many a late night for mare owners watching and waiting for new babies to arrive. Pinpointing exactly when a mare will foal has always been a guessing game. New Brunswick equestrian Lisa Pfister aims to change that. Pfister’s company Pfera has topped an impressive list of applicants to become the 2017 provincial grand prize winner in the N.B. Innovation Foundation (NBIF) Breakthru competition. Breakthru encourages the creation and development of entrepreneurial, innovative business ventures in N.B. Hosted by the NBIF, and Cox & Palmer and Deloitte, this nationwide start-up competition provides participants with a unique opportunity to access start-up capital, mentoring, and support.  
    Pfera is a digital milk strip analysis tool designed to improve birth date predictions for horses. Using a three-dimensional printer, Pfister has developed a device that measures the pH levels in the milk of the broodmare. The system can measure the levels and send that information straight to a smartphone. So far the technology can detect foaling accurately within a 12 to 24 hour range. Pfera’s technology is based on the research and commercialization efforts of Lisa Pfister, a student in UNB’s Master of Technology Management & Entrepreneurship program. Pfera took home $374,250 in cash investments and professional services.
    “I am really humbled that so many people see the value in what I’m doing,” says Pfister. “We are getting requests from around the world, and these investments will help us meet that demand. We have a lot of work to do!”

Surviving George Morris: The Nova Scotia Connection
    On June 24-26, 2017, Ontario based Danny Forbes (of DMF Productions) who started his riding career in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, will present a “Weekend with George Morris” in Windsor, N.S. Rider spots filled quickly for this once in a lifetime Maritime hunter-jumper clinic. Morris is one of the best known hunter-jumper coaches in North America. His resume includes the Olympic Games, Pan-Am Games, and Nations Cup both as a rider and Chef d’Équipe. Approaching his eighth decade, Morris is still known to hop on and school horses participating in his clinics.  He is known for his “take no prisoners” approach to coaching.
    Back in1963, Morris, who had already solidified his ability as a rider, including winning both the American Horse Show Association Hunter Seat Medal Final and the Maclay Final, was new to coaching. Jen (Marsden) Hamilton, a small in stature 16-year-old rider from upstate New York wanted riding lessons and nothing else for Christmas that year. She got her wish and became Morris’s first professional student. A photo of Hamilton riding in the 1964 AHSA Medal at Madison Square Garden is featured in Morris’s famous book Hunter Seat Equitation (1971) where she is praised as “an inspiration to those who think they’re not built to ride.”
    Hamilton, a Level Four EC certified coach, came to Canada in 1969 and lives just outside of Windsor, N.S. She credits Morris as being one of the first riding instructors to introduce and articulate the concept of structure, and a systematic program for riding and training horses. Her time with Morris is the basis for the lessons she uses at her own clinics here in North America and around the world. For 23 years Hamilton has been traveling to New Zealand each winter where she coaches riders up to the Olympic level, including NZ eventing superstar Clarke Johnstone. Hamilton offers a few words of advice for the brave souls taking part in the upcoming clinic. “Equipment must be spotless, horses must be spotless, and riders must be fit.” She also advises listening carefully. “If you talk or don’t show interest he will go ballistic.” Each rider will receive a jacket embroidered with the words “I survived GHM 2017.”

Horsemasters: Pony club for adults
    The Canadian Pony Club (CPC) has good news for those who thought they were too old for pony club. The new Horsemasters program is designed for adults who understand and support the aims and objectives of pony club. It is most active in Western Canada and in larger more populated regions of the country, but two groups in Nova Scotia are trying to change that.
    West Valley Pony Club from the Western Annapolis Valley of N.S., has eight new registered Horsemasters – from green beginners to pony club alumni – who share the same wish to learn more about riding and horse care. Some are parents of current pony club members.
    “Volunteering is part of the Horsemasters’ criteria. Members must give back to their club,” explains Crystal Tattersall, NSPC membership chair, pony club parent, and a West Valley Horsemaster. “It’s a great opportunity for pony club parents already working hard for their child’s club to get something back.”
    The program started as a CPC pilot program in 2015-16. In 2017 the program has been expanded to give Horsemasters the option to take part in clinics, lessons, lectures, and even testing, but also offers flexibility so each group can develop a program to suit their wish list. The West Valley group had their first stable management lecture scheduled for April, and plans are underway for riding lessons with Alex Beaton.
    Mary Jopling, NSPC Horsemasters chair sees the Avon Pony Club Horsemasters as more of a social group. An information session was recently held in Windsor, N.S. The session was an opportunity to see what potential members might want. “It may be just information and learning sessions, organized group rides and maybe a beach ride, open to both English and Western riders,” says Jopling “The opportunity will also be there for those interested in testing in either riding, stable management, or both.”
    If you’re over 25 and have an interest in sharing your love of horses, the CPC Horsemasters might be right for you. Get in touch with the district commissioner of your local branch for more information.