2019 Tad Coffin Challenge Class at Memory’s Hill
Comments at ringside on the second day of the Tad Coffin Challenge Class were all in agreement that the horses went better and better, with overall improved performances from the first to the second day. Horses using themselves in jumping efforts, more swing in their strides as they traveled down the lines, and more overall relaxation as the competition went on.
Professional rider Rachel McMahan ended up on top when the results from four phases were tabulated, and she is the first pro to win the class in its five-year history. The horse she rode, “Be Bravo” who is owned by Jackie Arends, jumped spectacularly for Rachel in the SmartRide Rx saddle.
Katie Younger Gehrt, who placed third overall, said showing in the borrowed TC saddle was a change because it opened up possibilities for her that she otherwise wasn’t used to: “The horse loved it. He is a pretty sensitive creature and he was much softer than in my saddle. I could actually sit his trot and canter in this saddle. Usually the more I sit, the more amped up he gets. In the SmartRide Rx saddle he didn’t react and he was more accepting when I closed my leg and hand to settle to a deeper distance.” The horse also relaxed in the Thera-Tree for twenty minutes on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning before he showed.
Luanne Leonard, owner and trainer of the 21 yr old TB, “Have A Heart” said “This horse loves the technology! This is the happiest we have seen him.” The gelding wore the Thera-Tree before competing in the SmartRide Rx saddle with student Abby Fisher in the irons for the win in the Equitation Derby section and an overall 4th place finish.
“He didn’t miss any lead changes today!” remarked Kelsey Ralston as she praised her TB that has been her main project for the past three years.
At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, Tad had all the riders in the horsemanship class, and anyone else who was interested, gather under the tent for a short debriefing about the topic of the written test: kissing spine. He suggested that the diagnosis of kissing spine is becoming much like the widespread diagnosis of navicular was years ago—and that perhaps we as horsemen are misunderstanding it. He suggested that if a horse is caving the back as a result of saddle-induced pain, kissing spine is certainly a likely result. Tad spoke of his experiences with a mare named Bella, one of the many horses he has worked with who have improved from kissing spine diagnoses. “If they have been ridden into kissing spine, they can be ridden out of it with proper gear,” he said. No amount of rest, injections, or palliative therapies will sustainably fix the horse’s condition if, when it returns to work, it is ridden again in the saddle that creates pain.
Ashley Holsinger, who is the owner and trainer at Memory’s Hill Stables, shared with the group a few of her numerous positive experiences in using Tad’s saddles and Thera-Trees® on horses in her program. She spoke about her desire to host the Tad Coffin Challenge as an educational piece to horse showing: “It is a competition about quality of riding, but it is further asking if riders are dedicated enough as horsemen to want things to be better for their horses, and to learn about what that might be.”
We are grateful to Ashley Holsinger, Tara Deckel, and the Memory’s Hill Stables staff for all that they do in hosting the Tad Coffin Challenge Class. Not only for the lovely, well-decorated courses and exhibitors party, but also for sponsoring a $1,000 gift certificate to Tad Coffin Saddles to the winner of the written phase, which was won by Caroline Leeth, DVM, of Blacksburg, Va.
Our congratulations and thanks to all of the competitors who brought horses to explore SmartRide Rx technology. To try a demo saddle or Thera-Tree® for your horse, give Tad a call at (434) 989-3229