Colleen Lethbridge

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Colleen Lethbridge

Marketing & PR, Equine Entertainment Director

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Blog 4. November

Hi Everyone,

I hope you and your horses are managing through all the problems that Spring brings along. Quite a few of mine are in the “Jenny Craig” paddock, after pigging out on the young green grass.

As you know from our website, H&C TV Australia is a supporter of the wonderful “Project Hope” organisation, which has had its hands full over Winter. One of their cases is a Thoroughbred mare named “Rosie”. The mare is 10 years old and the first part of her life was idyllic; but then her owner/breeder died of Cancer.

Sept 15IMG_4930When Rosie came to the attention of Project Hope, she was living in a paddock in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. She had been seriously injured by the reprehensible act of being bashed with a hammer, which left her with leg problems and large scars on her legs.

Project Hope Officer, Sue Kirkguard, brought her to agist with our horses while they found a more permanent home for her. A lovely young girl was riding her on the weekend. Rosie is a beautiful mare, so sweet and just crying out for affection and we all fell for her. However she was stressed under saddle and would buck when being ridden. After seeing this in action, I recognised that she had some real body pain issues, compounded by an ill fitting saddle, so suggested she have a treatment with H&C Blogger, Dani Simmonds.

Dani gave her 3 sessions and relieved the back, shoulder and hind quarter issues, but also advised that Rosie had a slipping stifle – just like our Warmblood Sevie – and stomach ulcers. And so began a regime that included several treatments by Dr. Fiona Mead, who had successfully treated the same condition in Sevie.

It came time for Rosie to leave and we were all heartbroken to lose her, but PHV had another home with horses in a large paddock. Several weeks later, Sue brought her back for another treatment with Fiona. My Daughter Kylie and my niece Shae (who had fallen in love with her!) were there and saw how happy she was to be “home” again. They also experienced the float loading where Rosie just didn’t want to leave. She was calling out and looking at us standing on the sidelines and it was heartbreaking.

That was a Sunday and on Monday, I received an email from Kylie, which simply stated “Shae and I want to take Rosie on, so can you work out the details with Project Hope and get our girl back as soon as possible.” I was so proud of them both!

Rosie has been with us for 3 months now and is happily living with our old retired mares – nice and quiet and don’t encourage her to runaround and push her leg. She has been treated by Dani and Fiona, brushed, kissed, fed her ulcer medication and vitamin supplements and is looking a treat now; so much so that Fiona gave us permission to do some groundwork with Steve Halfpenny at his recent clinic.

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We explained Rosie’s body weaknesses and Steve adapted the work so we didn’t put a strain on those problem areas. Steve and Rosie hit it off from the start; she seemed to sense that it was safe with Steve and was an angel in the arena. We discovered that she is very smart and willing to try anything, as long as it was asked in a non-threatening way – and really happy when she was praised for doing anything.

So we have another horse in the family and, like every other horse we have, Rosie will be here for the rest of her life. It is going to be great to watch her progress and see her being ridden again once her body is all repaired. Here are photos showing her with my Daughter the first day she came home and then during the recent clinic with Steve.

Thank you to Dani, Fiona and Steve for their commitment to getting this little girl well and happy again. Will keep you posted on her progress as we go along.

Cheers,

Colleen

Email: [email protected]

 

BLOG 3. August 2015

Hi Everyone,

This month I’d like to share an experience I’ve had with my own horse and Dr Fiona Mead, a Veterinarian from NZ, who offers an alternative (and complimentary system) to Western medicine alone, combining years of conventional and holistic health practices in her assessment and treatment. Fiona has been involved with horses for over 30 years and has been a Vet for 18 years.

She began her career in small animal medicine, Orthopedic and soft tissue surgery and spent much time working in several emergency medicine and surgery clinics in NZ. In her final year in Veterinary College, she also began looking at alternative treatments to aid the animals she was working with and decided that she would train in Acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Since doing so, she has been treating horses with these modalities in both NZ and Australia and is currently studying Animal Biomechanics in a Postgraduate Diploma.

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Since meeting our H&C Blogger, Manolo Mendez, 2 years ago, she has embraced his Training for Wellness(TM) principles and practices and noticed significant changes in the minds and bodies of her own and clients’ horses. She has studied with Dr Kerry Ridgway (USA) (Fascial acupuncture and saddle fit), Dr Kevin May (USA) (equine reproductive and back pain acupuncture) and Equinology(R) massage. She also attended one of Linda Tellington Jones’ first NZ clinics 26 years ago, learning the use of the Labyrinth, TTouch for health and body wraps. Fiona is a strong advocate of ‘no hoof, no horse’, placing much importance on hoof function and balance.

Our young Warmblood mare, Sevie, injured her hind leg doing what all young Warmbloods do in Spring; running around like a nutter and slipping in the mud. Once we had nursed the leg and began bringing her carefully back into work, we discovered that her stifle was slipping in and out, which sent her back to limping and resulted in other body problems from holding herself incorrectly.

We called the local Vet who confirmed our worst fears, telling us that the leg would probably never hold up under advance Dressage training and get worse over time. After years of seeing miracles from our circle of body workers, we decided not to lie down and accept that dire prognosis. And so began an 18 month journey to get her right.

We had generous Cranio Sacral help from Dani Simmonds (another great H&C Blogger) and Manolo Mendez designed a special exercise regime intended to slowly build the strength in that leg.

After 12 months Sevie was much better and stronger, but the leg still went out when we started working her more. Manolo suggested acupuncture might be a good alternative and that is how we met the wonderful Dr. Fiona Mead!

Fiona came out and treated our mare with acupuncture and B12 injections to stimulate the blood flow in the weak muscles, as well as the areas that had suffered from the way she had to hold her body and weight. After the first treatment, there was such a noticeable difference that we were amazed. Fiona has been coming out to Australia quite regularly, so Sevie had two further treatments and each time the leg has got stronger. She has been back in training for over 6 months now, is “trail riding” around the 160 acre property and all is still well with her leg.

This type of treatment also works well on dogs, as we found out when my 3 year old Boxer cross shredded her crucial ligament chasing a rabbit through a fence! After a $3,000 operation, the Vet told me that he would see me back in 3-6 months for an operation on the other leg, as it would be taking all of her 40kgs of weight. Fortunately, the lessons learned from getting our mare back on track also applied to this injury and with Cranio Sacral work from Dani Simmonds and treatments from Dr. Fiona, she is running around again – and I haven’t had to pay out another $3,000 for a further operation!

So there is more light at the end of the tunnel than you may think. I am very grateful to our team of complementary health practitioners and hope that anyone reading this blog will consider looking at alternatives before writing off a horse or other animal to the retirement paddock or perhaps even putting them down.

Bye for now

Colleen

[email protected]

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BLOG 2.  June 2015

US Vaquero Specialist Visits Australia

May was indeed a busy month for Tatiana and I, with lots of exciting projects on the go. The feature for me in May was having Vaquero specialist, Jeff Sanders, present two 3-day clinics in Australia and luckily for me, one was in Victoria, so I could attend.

A little about Jeff…………..

Jeff Sanders was born in Merced California and raised on the Central Coast – right in the heart of Vaquero country. He is one of very few teaching the California/Vaquero/Californio style of horsemanship who is truly a Californio, himself.

Jeff’s family has a long history of running cattle and riding cow horses in California. Starting about 100 years ago, Jeff’s great-grandfather ran cattle in the grass covered foothills surrounding Patterson, California. Jeff’s Father, who was raised by his brother-in-law, a well-respected Vaquero in the San Joaquin Valley, learned not only the value of traditional stockmanship, but also the California way of making fine bridle horses. Having been raised in the California horsemanship traditions since childhood, Jeff’s parents passed that knowledge down to him the same way, staying true to the Vaquero tradition of passing knowledge from generation to generation.

Jeff and his parents took these skills and applied them, not only on the ranch but also in the competition arena. Jeff credits his success in competition to the fundamental principles of old style California horsemanship. He has also been fortunate to have had the opportunity to apply the skills and philosophies of the old California Vaqueros while day working on ranches in California, Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada.

Jeff still day works when he is home but is steadfast in his dedication to spreading the traditions of the California Bridle Horse throughout the world. Traveling throughout the US, Australia and both Western and Eastern Europe teaching this style of horsemanship, Jeff’s hope is that this proud tradition that respects the rider and honors the horse will not just survive but will once again flourish.

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Photo Credit: Tracie Sullivan

Jeff was amazing to watch. Unfortunately my Quarter Horse, Deuce, is not quite up to that level of work yet, but after watching Jeff for three days, I have a new goal; to make sure we are ready next time he visits!

Jeff broke the training down into very small steps, making it easier for riders and horses to take in. His first lessons involved getting the horses to walk properly – and the riders to be light in the hands and seat and to use their body more. This was fascinating to watch, but maybe a bit frustrating for the riders who thought they already had that bit down pat. However Jeff’s philosophy is that if your horse can’t walk properly using each muscle correctly, be able to stop lightly without any pulling on the rider’s part, then it is not going to be able to produce the more complex movements later on.

It was amazing to see the difference in the horses after the first day. They were all more relaxed, using their hind quarters better and in lovely self carriage. This made the transition to trot so relaxed and smooth, with no rushing into it or heads up in the air and the stop and back up effortless, so even those who thought they “had” it before looked pretty pleased.

The following two days provided the same careful breakdown of lessons, with Jeff always careful about how the horses were learning and that they weren’t over taxed, while being kind and patient with riders to make sure everyone got as much from the clinic as possible.

Jeff is also a lovely person and loads of fun. During his stay, we found out that one person he would like to train with was our own Victorian Classical Dressage trainer Manolo Mendez, as he had seen him in the US many years ago. I invited Manolo up to our Saturday night B-B-Q as a surprise for Jeff and the two hit it off straight away. At one stage, the tables and chairs were moved out of the way and a horse brought in so that Manolo could show Jeff the benefits of doing some muscle work with his horses before he went out to ride. It was hysterical to see them both underneath the horse, glasses of good Aussie wine in hand, checking reach and comparing notes!

Well that’s it for me for now, so I will say “Adios” until next month!

 

BLOG 1. April 2015

I fell in love with horses when I was two years old. My Uncle, who had always loved horses and still rides at 80, brought a 16hh Thoroughbred from the horse sales and it lived in my Grandmother’s very large backyard for years. After my first sit on “Big Bill”, they couldn’t get me off him and nothing has changed since then!

I had to move away from horses for the period when I was building my career and bringing up my Daughter (who is also mad about horses). But I always had the dream that when she went out on her own, I would move to the country and get another horse. Well I did this and as usual with horse lovers, ended up with not only my own horse, but several others we saved as well. The great horse love of my life now is a Quarter Horse / Paint named Deuce, who I have had for 7 years. I bought him after losing my previous horsey mate in his late 20s. He had lots of problems from bad breaking and cruel treatment so has been more of a challenge than I bargained for. But he has also been my greatest horse journey and forced me to go in different directions to look for training solutions. Deuce is just fabulous and we are about to start learning Cowboy Dressage together.

My early working life was spent in the Music and Entertainment business, where I worked on large scale events and tours for several years. I then went back to Sydney University to expand my skills in the Marketing and PR area and have been doing this type of work for successively larger events over the last two decades.

In the early 90’s I became interested in the environmental area, as problems with ecology became more wide spread and I wanted to do something to help and ensure a better future for my daughter. I worked on developing and promoting community programs to address the problems and ended up doing PR for the Department and Minister of Conservation for the next 5 years.

Then in 1999, after my daughter had left home and I had moved to the country, I met Daryl Herbert, the man with a dream to start Equitana in Australia. After two hours chatting, I found myself agreeing to take on the job of a horse girl’s life; producing and directing the first 3 hour equine evening entertainment spectacular, “The Mane Event”. The event was responsible for launching the careers of many of our top horsemen, including Guy McLean, whose Aunty called to get him a spot in the show because he was too shy to ask himself! I was also involved in bringing all the equine groups and associations together for the first time in one event, which eventually forced the government to look at the horse industry (outside of racing) as a whole, and acknowledge it to be a large contributor to the country’s economy.

It was a hard job, with long hours and not enough budget and we had to work with volunteers to make up the shortfall. However, working with horses and horse people was also great fun and I made many good friends that are still in my life today. I continued to produce the “Mane Event” for Equitana Australia until the 2003 event, after which I time, I started up my own horse rehabilitation centre, with help from many of the expert trainers and health practitioners I had met through Equitana.

Around this time I ran into two young and ambitious film makers, Tat & Joe Frazzica, who were putting together an equine lifestyle program, “Horse Rush TV”. We had the same ethic about horses and the same goal, to present a broad range of information to horse owners to make things easier for the horse – and a lot more fun for owners! – and have been friends and work colleagues ever since!

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 Equitana Australia team photo 2012

In 2010, I received a call from the Equitana team, asking if I could come back and work on the event again. And how could I refuse? The event was such a big part of my life so I was happy to go back and work with “family” again. This time I was doing the marketing and media for the event, although I did squeeze one more 2 hour entertainment show in before I left at the end of 2013 to go back to my own business.

I can’t imagine my life without horses in it and consider myself very lucky to be able to work with them. Working on Horse & Country TV is a wonderful experience and our UK team members are great to work with. I am now looking forward to the next phase, which is helping Frazzica Productions find and develop lots of amazing Australian content for our audience.

Some of the Clients I have, or am, working with:-

  • Frazzica Productions Pty. Ltd

Horse Rush Television and Horse & Country TV

  • Steve Halfpenny

“Light Hands Equitation”

  • EQUITANA Australia

Mane Event (1999-2003) / Marketing & PR (2010-2013)

  • David and Sandi Simons Training Pty. Ltd.

Marketing and Promotion

  • Dept Conservation & Natural Resources

Coast Action & Ministerial Programs

  • Clean Up Australia

Victorian State Manager

Coordination of sites across Victoria, PR

  • Michael Edgely (Mark Avery Division)

Event and Tour Manager

  • Radio 3TT

International Vietnam Veterans Reunion Concerts

Stage Management

  • Spoletto Festival (First Melbourne Arts Festival)

Event and Stage Management

 

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Colleen, Leanne Davey & Koo (West Rock Farm) 2004