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40/ JUNE 2010 THE RIDER New Ogilvy Half Pad a brilliant idea By Mallory Hendry

Sometimes the marrying of two seemingly different con- cepts can make for a really bril- liant idea. That’s what Jackie Ogilvy discovered when she decided the various saddle pads and blankets on the market just weren’t cutting it. She used her background in biochemistry to come up with something fash- ionable but also functional, sim- ple but revolutionary. She invented the half pad.

“It’s designed to be attrac- tive and easy to clean,” Ogilvy says. “You remove memory foam insert and can put it in the washer and dryer; it’s very durable and not complicated.” The half pad, which sells for around $199, isn’t the first product Ogilvy had designed that has the horse community sitting up and taking notice. As the designing partner of Ogilvy Equestrian, Jackie developed a sheet she calls “amazing and unique.” They contained a ther- mal regulating gel inspired by the climate horses in California faced. It would be hot in day and cold at night, and the sheet would either release the horse’s body heat or keep it in depend- ing on the weather.

It was through good word of mouth about the thermal reg- ulating sheets that brought an important player in the half pad drama into the picture. Jill Henselwood contacted the Ogilvys when they were still relatively new on the scene and just starting to make a name for themselves with the sheets. Henselwood was getting a new horse named Special Ed - who she ended up winning the

Olympic silver medal in Shang- hai with - and wanted to devel- op specific products for them that she couldn’t find on the market. She was intrigued by Jackie’s designs so the Ogilvys started giving Henselwood her products to evolve with and test them. When Ogilvy began working on the half pad, she again used Henselwood as her guinea pig. As it came together, more and more riders and teams began using it.

“It was fun; Jill was patient and really tried,” Ogilvy says. “She laughed because we had to do every- thing out of the box, and pro- fessional riders are generally very conservative. They don’t like when we change things but at least in Canada most of the riders on the national teams are riding with our pads.”

she was busy with her career but decided she wanted to get involved again around 10 years ago when she had children and was home more. She wanted to develop something new, some- thing in demand, that wasn’t on the market.

“I didn’t want to play in the same backyard as the others,” Ogilvy says. “I didn’t start with what was existing because what I wanted didn’t exist. I started

two of his patients whose horses were having back problems to get in touch with Ogilvy Eques- trian to solve the problem. Half pads are now available all over Canada, coast to coast in the States and in Australia and Europe. Their success is due to Ogilvy’s attention to universal saddle issues.

“I’ve been trying to find solutions for those major prob- lems of friction and pressure,” Ogilvy says. “I researched over five years with different materials to try different things, for example putting mesh inside to create air movement to keep the pad fresh. It was a lot of trial and error.”

Even saddle makers have caught on to the trend. Ogilvy says their first reac- tion was that the pad was too thick and their saddle didn’t need it, but eventually they came around. Now Ogilvy Equestrian works with quite a few who have it as the main pad that fits their saddles. Ogilvy credits her sci- ence background and riding experience for the conception and development of the half pad. Her biology background made the biomechanics of the horse familiar to her and her 40 years of being around horses helped her identify where improvements on regular saddle pads could be made. The 47 year old had taken time away from the horse world because

Jackie Ogilvy

with the needs of all the riders and researched for a few years before I started testing. I wanted to reinvent the concept of the half pad.”

And reinvent she did. Ogilvy says she’s had recom- mendations come from all over the world. A vet in Europe told

Ogilvy wanted something different than the traditional materials used for saddle pads. She found all of them were making points of pressure on the horse so Ogilvy began looking for something thin that would avoid the friction. She likens the concept to a person wearing two pairs of socks to avoid blisters; her pad was going to grip the sad- dle and follow the movement of the horse to avoid chaffing. It distributes the weight of the rider and fills the gap between the horse and the saddle, becoming around * inch thick. Ogilvy also changed the quilt- ing of the pads. Instead of foam, the half pads are filled with hal- lowcore fibres. They dry quick- ly and don’t accumulate bacte- ria. Unlike foam they don’t serve as a nest for mould, which can irritate a horse’s skin and cause infection or irritation. They also don’t deteriorate in

the wash and retain their shape better than traditional filling. Another bonus? They make the pad 100% recyclable. Ogilvy explains that old pads are burned and that’s not good for the environment, so she wanted to make her version earth friendly as well.

“It’s all of those things – fashion, design, functionality is number one – but it’s also very important to be recyclable,” Ogilvy says. “Everybody has to be concerned for their part, and we feel good knowing there’s no concern for the environment when the half pad is thrown out.”


Ogilvy says there’s nothing comparable. Her half pad is made with the best of the best, including fast drying brushed polyester that sticks to the horse so there’s no sliding, and with- out rubber or neoprene which a lot of horses are allergic too or at the very least can rub the horse the wrong way especially in the summer months. On top of that, these pads are fully cus-

“A lot of riders need space for sponsors and I thought it would be fun to have something to embroider,” Ogilvy explains. “It’s the only half pad you can have to go with your colours. It’s fun to be identified and we had the possibility to do it so we took it. I think it’s very impor- tant to be able to personalize it and we’re the only company who can do. It brings together the fashion and design aspect which is my favourite part of it. It’s a plus we can offer and we do it as a standard service.” Ogilvy says they’ve been so busy with the half pad other products have fallen to the way- side, but they plan to go back to their roots next year and re- launch the thermal regulated sheet. But it seems the focus of Ogilvy Equestrian will be on the half pad for the foreseeable future.

“It’s the fourth year we’ve been selling it and we’ve had two sent back,” Ogilvy says. “And we’ve sold a lot!”

Horse Shows for the 21st Century: The IPHDA Takes Advantage of Modern Technology to Create Successful Virtual Shows

By Ona Kiser

There’s hardly an industry in America untouched by the trends in new technology and the internet. Books, movies, music and more are all available online. But what about horse shows? Yes, horse shows, too! Horse trainer and National Reining Horse Association judge Rod Miller has taken advantage of modern technology to solve some problems he saw in the horse show circuit, and so far the response has been enthusiastic. Rod has worked with reiners for nearly two decades. In his years as a judge around the country a surprising issue came to light. Year after year the beginners he had seen the last time weren’t coming back. When he asked why, people told him “I can’t take the time off work to travel that far for shows,” or “My horse isn’t finished,” and “I can’t afford the time or financial commitment to be competitive.” He also saw a lot of coaches training hors- es and riders for specific disciplines, but taking shortcuts on the basics that led to problems later on.

In pondering these problems he came up with the idea for an event that would test the basics required during the steps in training a good broke horse, not just for reining but for many disciplines. The event would have many levels of competition, with awards and recognition for each step in the process of training a broke horse, not just the finished product.

With the internet so widely avail- able, he came up with the idea of hold- ing shows online, virtually allowing this new event to be “local” for any- one, anywhere. This was the beginning of the International Performance Horse Development Association ( and the virtual shows, or V-Shows.

Trainer and V-show competitor

Julie Slater was an early participant: with her long work hours and remote location, she wasn’t able to get to shows often. Moreover, she is usually riding a young horse that she’s train- ing: “If they get old enough to handle someone else, they usually get sold. I don’t even enjoy riding an old broke horse. That effectively leaves me out of any Western competition. In the Western world, you either have a horse or you don’t. But the IPHDA recog- nized that and wanted to give folks milestones to hit as they develop their own horses.”

In keeping with a real show, the V-shows offer real prizes - from cash jackpots to iPods to buckles and sad- dles. The first year was tough, Rod says, but membership has more than doubled in the last year, and the shows now have a consistent participation that makes for bigger prizes and more fun. Rod laughs that one of these days he’ll be offering a new truck for the year end awards.

petitor is in a different venue. This unique system of judging has made the V-shows fair and suc- cessful where other attempts at online showing have struggled with fair judg- ing. In one event, Rod recalls, the win- ner was riding in the snow, while the other competitors were all riding in indoor arenas.

terns and competitions.

Long time NRHA judge Tim Katona remembers the first time Rod asked him to judge a V-show. “I was skeptical at first,” he said. “But it turned out to be very interesting. I was really impressed. There were some darn nice horses and you could see people had prepared and tried hard. People did well!” He thought the judg- ing system was straightforward and fair. “I thought the people who won really deserved it,” he added.

One of the biggest challenges Rod had was coming up with a system of judging that would be fair even when the competitors were not in the same place. They might have different sized arenas, different footing, even different styles of riding and training. So he focused on his definition of a “broke horse” as the standard. By IPHDA definition, a broke horse will “wait for its rider’s cue, then willingly accept and follow that cue.” Each movement in the pattern is judged on that willingness. That willingness is evaluated as “improvement needed,” “adequate skill for this level,” or “skills above those required for this level.” Because the details of the ride - the exact size of a circle, for example, or the type of the horse or the style of the rider - are not evaluated, the judg- ing can be fair even though each com-

Participants videotape the pattern according to the guidelines for each show and post it online - without edit- ing - in time for the judging deadline. Entry fees are low, and because partici- pants don’t have to travel to show, they can plan their entries around their work schedule and the weather. Participants come from all over the country. Where there are enough of them, they can form clubs which receive support and sponsorship opportunities from the IPHDA.

As more folks participate, Rod has seen a growing demand for online coaching for riders who don’t have easy access to trainers. He’s begun organizing trainers around the country who can provide paid online coaching services. Several trainers I spoke to said they had been doing online coach- ing already - with students who couldn’t truck in for training regularly sending them videos for critiques. So it was a small adjustment for them to begin offering online coaching specifi- cally geared towards the IPHDA’s pat-

Terri Fox, a trainer who’s worked with competitive reiners as well as dressage and pleasure riders, found it didn’t take too much technical know- how to make online coaching work for her. “I just needed to be able to view online videos and send emails at first,” she said. She’s found in the end that phone follow-ups are more effective than emails, to make sure the student understands what she is explaining. Despite the convenience, she says, it does require commitment: both student and instructor have to set aside the time to work together, and the phone calls and emails can get lengthy. But she says, “Video is a great way to evaluate students. It’s easy to see where the problems are in just a couple minutes. Is the horse using his back, going forward, leaning on the leg? Is the rider using the seat?” She’s found it helps to teach students how to critique their own videos, too. “Most people can learn to see faster than they can learn to feel. Teaching the riders to study their own horse has been help- ful.”

Julie Slater, who’s also been doing online coaching, says it has made her more aware of her teaching style. She thinks it benefits the students in an unexpected way: “The best part about online coaching is that the stu- dent is forced to tap into her own horsemanship much more deeply. When folks come for a lesson, I fre- quently end up practically riding the horse for them. Yes, my feet will still be on the ground, but my voice is hol- lering, more leg, more leg, lean back, use your seat, left rein, again, again, harder, now let him go. When I teach [by] email or after viewing a video, the student has to remember the stuff I was telling her and implement it on her own feeling... not mine.”

The V-shows have other benefits: allowing unfinished horses to have a clear show record indicating their abili- ties, and providing a guided system for people who are training their own horses. Terri Fox says, “The IPHDA patterns give students a really clear place to start.” Rod Miller adds, “Once people try it most keep showing because the improvement they realize is amazing.” The levels are designed to allow “every horse and rider to advance their knowledge, without skip- ping any basics in their education towards better horsemanship,” he says. A horse’s show record then clearly indicates which basic skills they have mastered, making it easier to market them.

So it seems the technology of the 21st century has reached the arena, offering riders the advantages of affordable access to shows and trainers that wasn’t possible even just a few years ago. It remains to be seen where the future takes this idea. Rod hopes to see more growth in the online coach- ing, which he says can give a range of trainers the opportunity to help others by sharing their knowledge.

He’d like to see clubs form around the world and offer even more V-shows, with enough participants to have regional qualifiers and national and international championships. With enough members and participants the number of award points would allow for more expensive prizes, like that truck he’s been thinking of. And he’d love to see the IPHDA levels become a standard for rating just how broke a horse is, making the purchase of a horse less of a gamble for buyers. Judging by the enthusiasm so far, it’s quite possible he’ll see some of those wishes come true!

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