Minnesota Pair Overcomes Great Odds to Compete at the US Dressage Finals

Alexandra Lynch
Reporting from Featured
Saturday, November 8, 2014 :: Posted 10:20:29 AM CST


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Mollie Reynolds and Ribaldi

Lexington, KY – November 8, 2014 – After her 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Ribaldi was faced with multiple health and anxiety obstacles, odds were against Orono, Minnesota, native Mollie Reynolds ever showing at a big time dressage competition. This talented pair, now competing at this weekend’s US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan, proves that with hard work and dedication, all things are possible. 

Reynolds purchased Ribaldi after Missy Ransehousen, who has served as the U.S. Paralympic coach, imported the gelding as a mount for one of her students. With his spooky and unpredictable behavior, Ribaldi was too much for Ransehousen’s student to handle. After scoping out Ribaldi, Reynolds fell in love, but knew he wouldn’t be an easy ride.

“There was kind of a magical combination of things that needed to happen to compete at a big competition like [US Dressage Finals],” Reynolds said. “I needed to be a better rider. He needed somebody that could be his leader, and it became fairly evident that that wasn’t the case right away.”

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Mollie Reynolds and Ribaldi

After spending long hours with trainers in her area, Reynolds felt as though things with Ribaldi weren’t progressing as they should.

“For a while, things were not evolving in a good way, and I felt like we needed to change the conversation,” Reynolds said.

She did research to explore her options and came across a Buck Brannaman clinic. She felt that if she started thinking from the horse’s perspective and worked on her horsemanship, things would progress.

“We really just had to break things down and put them back together,” Reynolds said. “He came out of all of that a completely different horse.”

She continued, “It was a lot of letting go. It was a lot about being his leader. I think Sarah Travis, my current trainer, also teaches from the horse’s perspective. It is changing the conversation from ‘I want you to do this’ to ‘I want to do this’. We also did a lot of work for a long time on a long rein. It was really to develop the trust.”

Working though Ribaldi’s anxiety was only one hurdle of many the pair had to overcome. The horse has faced a few physical setbacks that put a pause to their training.

“He had a cyst on his iris which I think contributed to the spooky behavior,” Reynolds said. “The ophthalmologist said that it cast a shadow in his eye. Three years ago, he had a right hind injury that caused him some trouble, and last year, he also had a soft tissue injury in his left hind, leaving him on stall rest for seven months.”

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Mollie Reynolds and Ribaldi

Reynolds has been with her horse every step of the way and had to learn to balance a full-time career as an advertising specialist at Target with full-time training.

“I train about four times a week,” Reynolds said. “He lives close to me, which is nice, but it’s a lot to balance. Riding makes me happy. Sometimes I have a fairly stressful job, but I never leave the barn stressed. I just leave the barn happy.”

The odds weren’t in their favor, but the talented pair was dedicated to competing at the US Dressage Finals and didn’t let anything stop them. They qualified from Region 4 for the Training Level Adult Amateur championship. After competing in open warm-up classes with scores up to 67.800 percent, they will go down centerline for their championship ride Sunday morning.

“Just being here is incredible,” Reynolds said. “I never thought I would get here to this point, it feels great.”

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Virus vs. Bacterial Infections

By: Katie Jones, CVT

When you or your horse is diagnosed with a certain disease, the details of the disease are often explained as a bacterial or viral infection. These two terms are very commonly used to describe many diseases we are exposed to in our daily lives. There are many similarities and differences between a viral and bacterial infection.

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Bacteria structures

The similarities between bacterial and viral infections create some difficulty in differentiating between the two. Both can be spread by coughing, sneezing, and contact made with infected individuals, contaminated surfaces, food and water, or contaminated carriers. In addition to how the disease is contracted, both viral and bacterial infections share similar symptoms; some of which are: fever, inflammation, vomiting, diarrhea, and coughing.   In both bacterial and viral infections microbes are the cause; they can be acute (short-lived), chronic (long lasting), or latent infections that could take months to show symptoms. Though both viral and bacterial infections share many similar characteristics they are different in many other important ways. These differences are mainly caused by the organisms’ structural differences.

Bacteria are complex, single celled organisms with a rigid cell wall. Due to this structure, bacteria can survive extreme environmental conditions. They are also able to reproduce on their own. A microbiologist estimated roughly 5 million trillion trillion bacteria reside in the world. This is an incomprehensible number, but not all of them are harmful to the human or horse population; many of them aid in normal bodily function. Approximately less then 1% of bacteria cause diseases that are harmful to people.

Viruses are smaller organisms then bacteria. The virus’ structure is simply a protein coat and a core made of genetic material (either RNA or DNA). Unlike bacteria, viruses cannot live without a host. The virus will attach to a host cell, enter the cell, and release its DNA or RNA inside it. The virus’ genetic material then takes over the host cell which causes the cell to replicate the virus within itself. Typically the virus will only attach to a certain type of cell. Viruses are transmitted to a new host by swallowing, inhalation, or spread by insect and parasite bites.

VirusStructure1The body has a number of defenses against viruses. The skin discourages easy entry into the body, the body has a natural immune defense which will attack and destroy many viruses, and in the process it will remember the attacking virus to allow an even quicker attack if the body becomes exposed again. Drugs designed to combat viral infections are called anti-viral drugs. These types of drugs work by interfering with the replication process of the virus. Remember, viruses are tiny organisms that replicate inside cells using the cells’ own metabolic functions; therefore, there are only certain ways anti-viral drugs can target the virus. This limited effectiveness causes the development of anti-viral drugs to be difficult and some can even be toxic to cells. In addition viruses can easily develop drug resistance, while other anti-viral drugs can strengthen the bodies’ natural immune response to the viral infections. Vaccines fall under this immune strengthening form of anti-viral drugs. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections, but could be beneficial if there is a secondary bacterial infection due to the viral infection.

Bacterial and viral infections have similar characteristic which can lead to confusion when a diagnosis is determined; however, once the organism is identified as one or another, the diagnosing veterinarian has a more clear direction for a treatment plan.


By: Katie Jones, CVT

­Your riding horse has just been diagnosed with ringbone, a degenerative disorder which affects pastern and coffin joints and has no cure. Before you automatically write him off as a pasture ornament, please consider the related advances in diagnosis, treatment, and shoeing practices. Due to advancements, this condition is no longer an automatic career-ending diagnosis.

What is Ringbone? Ringbone is exostosis (bone growth) which affects the pastern and Ring Bone 1coffin joint in the horse.   Ringbone is considered an osteoarthritic condition; there are two classifications. The first is “high ringbone”. This occurs on the lower end of the larger pastern or the upper portion of the small pastern bone. The second is “low ringbone”. As the name implies, it occurs on the lower part of the small pastern bone or the upper portion of the coffin bone. Ringbone can range from a mild to severe case dependent on how the horse handles pain. Ringbone is most commonly found in the front legs; typically one leg will be worse then the other. In addition, it is most commonly seen in mature horses in intensive work routines.

The cause of ringbone varies. Excessive tension on tendons and ligaments of the pastern area can strain the membrane covering the outer surface of the bone (periosteum) causing stretching or tearing of the soft tissue structures. This then can lead to the joint becoming unstable due to the injury, ultimately causing new bone to be produced to immobilize the joint.   This immobilization relieves inflammation within the joint capsule and leads to the development of osteoarthritis in the joint. If this is occurring, pain continues until the joint is completely immobilized (fussed). Another cause of ringbone can be poor showing and conformation issues. Conformational issues such as long sloping pastern angels, upright pasterns, long toes with high heels, overall unbalanced feet, and conditions such as splayed feet or pigeon toes, can all predispose a horse to ringbone. Due to the angle issues associated with foot conformational issues, uneven stress on the pastern, coffin joint, and soft tissues structures which surround the joint can be seen. The time it takes for this damage to form the build-up of bone will vary based on the severity of the initial trauma.

Ringbone2The process of confirming the presence of ringbone should start with a thorough lameness exam. Based on flexion tests, joint blocks may be performed to confirm the causing pain is originating from either the coffin or pastern joint. Once the lameness exam is complete, the veterinarian will typically recommend radiographs be taken of the area. Radiographs are used to show boney changes in the joint surface, which should otherwise be smooth.

Ringbone is degenerative, but can be managed. Treatment plans are geared, not to cure it, but aimed at slowing down the process of boney growth and alleviating the pain it causes. Some of the treatment options available are: proper shoeing, NSAIDs to relieve pain and inflammation in the joints, joint injections, shockwave therapy, or in more advance cases, joints can be fused. The rate of degeneration and the amount of damage seen when a horse is diagnosed with Ringbone will influence which treatment option a veterinarian recommends for a specific patient.

Though Ringbone can limit or compromise a horse’s ability to do its job, early diagnosis and corrective measures can help prevent it from becoming more advanced. If you have concerns regarding ringbone or if your horse may have it, please contact your local veterinarian to schedule a lameness evaluation.