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By Lauren R. Giannini
Special thanks to photographer Janet Hitchen for this
interesting tale about one of her friends and an upper level
dressage horse that came ever so close to performing
tempi changes through the pearly gates…
Anne Hurwitz is a racehorse exercise rider turned
dressage enthusiast. Because of her, an imported Dutch
Warmblood can be called a miracle horse. “In 2006,
Nando’s previous owner, a professional, was showing
successfully at Intermediaire 1 and the horse just fell apart,”
explains Anne. “It took nearly two years to fgure out that
Nando had Lyme Disease. The rider was pouring money
into him; but he wasn’t getting better.”
That professional, who knew Anne’s trainer, Jaralyn
Finn, thought that Anne might want Nando. Perhaps her
husband, Jim Lewis, a veterinarian, could help the horse.
“Anne came to me a few years ago when she was
doing second level,” says Jaralyn. “Anne’s a really good
horseman. She’s from the racetrack. Loves horses. Works
really hard. She took lessons from really good people who
knew what they were doing. And her husband is a highly
educated horse vet.”
A Second Chance
In August 2008, Nando moved to Anne and Jim’s farm in
Poolesville, Maryland. He has some quirks that make him
an interesting ride. An imposing 17.2hh, the horse’s frst
act, upon landing in the USA, was to spook, breaking loose
from his handler; he bolted, careening around the tarmac
at JFK Airport. To this day, Nando remains spooky, even
at 17.
“When I got him, he couldn’t do fying changes and I
thought, well, maybe I can do second level with him,” recalls
Anne. “That frst week, he had a horrible neurological thing
– he couldn’t walk, he was trembling all over the place. I
was afraid we’d have to put him down.”
Dr. Lewis galloped to the rescue. Nando’s blood titer
is now normal; but he has chronic Lyme Disease and it
will never go away. With careful monitoring and on-going
treatment, they manage to prevent relapses. Their goal is
to keep the horse as healthy as possible, given the chronic
nature of his Lyme Disease. Obviously, the treatment is
working great, because the horse has been unbelievably
free from neurological compromise. He and his pony pal
get turned out, whatever the weather and his conditioning
follows as strict a routine as Anne’s.
“I puttered with him, took him to clinics,” recalls Anne.
“In April (2009) I showed him 4th level test 1 and got mid
to upper 60s off the bat. That year I showed him Prix St.
Georges and Nando got me my USDF Silver Medal the frst
weekend. He was really spooky; but he has stayed sound
and, except for some little normal horse things, he’s been
On Their Way Up the Levels
Nando and Anne partnered to win the Region 1 Finals
showing Intermediaire I in 2010. This year, they’re schooling
Intermediaire 2 and Grand Prix. The horse lucked out when
he ended up with Anne, a thinking, educated rider acutely
Miracle on the Centerline
aware of the physiological demands of upper level dressage.
“I’m not sure he can do it,” admits Anne. “Nando is going to tell
us if it’s too hard. I think I’ll be able to go out and do some amateur
mediocre Intermediaire 2 tests. We’re just putzing along, getting
the piaffe a little bit, but the tempi changes – it takes quick fring
neurologically in the muscles to do tempis. He will tell us.”
The horse reaps the benefts of Anne’s dedication to ftness so
she can run marathons. She never misses a workout for herself
and always has a program for herself and her horses.
“Anne is religious about having a program for the horse,” says
Jaralyn. “I think that’s what sets her apart from a lot of amateurs.
They don’t understand how horses stay ft. You need a ftness
program and a gymnastics program and how it relates to each
horse. You have to get horses ft and limber so that the job you
ask them to do is easy and they’re willing to do it: this has helped
Nando achieve success and he couldn’t have done it without
Anne’s horsemanship and understanding. One day at a time:
we’re constantly learning from Nando and how he feels.”
Anne feels very lucky to have Nando in her life. She says, “He’s
gorgeous and, if he didn’t have Chronic Lyme Disease, he would
be a very valuable horse. I feel so very fortunate to have this
horse in my life and I am so grateful to his previous owner. I’m
fortunate to have Jaralyn as a trainer – she listens to me about
Anne also credits Janet Hitchen for giving her some “stick
and spur” about trying dressage. “I used to think dressage was
excruciatingly boring,” admits Anne with a laugh. “Years ago
when I was hacking out Janet’s dressage horses and feld hunters
for her husband, she would say, ‘why aren’t you doing dressage?’
Maybe I thought it was boring because it’s so cerebral, but not
Especially not with a miracle ride like Nando. If this horse could
talk, he would have a lot to say about partnership and a marathon
racehorse rider who won’t give up until Nando tells her that it’s
time for him to halt at X and make one last bow to the judges.
Anne Hurwitz
and Nando, her
miracle horse
Photo by Deepwoods