Hoof Beats Magazine

DEC 2017

Official magazine of the U.S. Trotting Association, covering harness racing and the Standardbred horse.

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The Harness Horse Youth Foundation takes pride not just in teaching kids about horsemanship, but also in watching how the participants mature through the process. And that applies to the horses as much as it does to the campers. Pokie's Topshot came to the HHYF as an inexperienced 2-year-old Trottingbred. Trottingbreds are a great fit for the HHYF because they're much smaller than Standardbreds and they're easier for the kids who attend their camps to work with. Trottingbreds are about 13 hands (or 52 inches) tall. HHYF graduate Katie Eick was called on to start teaching "Pokie" some skills. "Two summers ago, when I was asked to work with Pokie's Topshot and help him get ready for camps with the Harness Horse Youth Foundation, I was excited to take on the task," she said. "Like any 2-year- old, Pokie was very energetic and did not always behave. He proved to be a handful. He would not stand still in his stall. He'd throw his head when I tried to put on his bridle or braid his foretop, and would fall down when I picked up his feet." But Eick wasn't fazed. "After working with him a few times a week for the rest of the summer, he began to show some improvement; he walked nicely with a lead rope, was better behaved in his stall, and was able to hold his feet up for longer periods of time without throwing a fit," she said. "Despite the improvements, I still wasn't sure if Pokie would be camp-ready by the time the next summer came around, but I did know that all he needed was some time to mature." Summer intern Travis Ceppaluni agreed. "He (Pokie's Topshot) pretty much went from zero to hero," he said. "When he first arrived at the HHYF barn he was not exactly a first- class horse. But through the hard work the HHYF put in, he became an outstanding horse—one of the best in the barn." A big reason for the improvement was Chris Ryder, who got Pokie ready for his 10 HOOSIER PARK BY MARK HALL l ALL OTHERS COURTESY OF HHYF Horse of a Different Color HHYF Trottingbred goes from not-so-hot to hotshot youth bits

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