Leslie's Latest NEWS

The Lightest Hands . . .

With gratitude and excitement, I recently accepted an invitation from Eitan Beth-Halachemy and his wife, Debbie, to participate in the 2012 Light Hands Conference in Santa Ynez, CA  next May 31 - June 3, 2012.

 As part of this process, I was asked six weeks ago to share my ideas about "light hands" with them and the membership at www.westerndressageassociation.org

One would think that "light hands" should be easy enough for a writer to write about, particularly when it has been the subject of practice and a passionate focus for  . . . 50 years!   I thought it would be a simple pleasure to do this but I quickly learned that it was not simple at all. To the contrary, the challenge of selecting the words that best describe my thoughts has had me stumped for more than a month. The fact is, "light hands"  is a subject so rife with nuance and complexity that I could not get a simple sentence to stick on a page! 

After much thought, the words finally fell into place this morning.  My notes are below.

"The lightest hands  . . .




Update on . . .  

The Feel of a Horse by Leslie Desmond

 Leslie works with many horses every year for clients, friends and rescue organizations. In former times, she would occasionally purchase a youngster to start and bring along; in 1984 she had the good fortune to breed and raise a half-Lipizzan mare named "Fushi"  that lead her to Tom and Bill Dorrance.

In her upcoming book, The Feel of a Horse, she writes about this horse, four others mares and six geldings that impressed her

In chapters titled for seven horses,  Leslie shares her thoughts, doubts, trials and triumphs as she sought the best way to work with each one. She relays the stories about these relationships as much as possible from each horse's point of view.

The supporting roles that some other horses --  Bug, Teacup, Brown Jug and Pumpkin -- played in the lives of the ones who are the focus of this new book will bring a smile to your face.

To a large extent, these horses shaped her steadily evolving connection to horses and determined how she would develop her diverse capacities as a horsewoman. She explains in depth how she developed a reliable way to earn a welcome in the lives and hearts of horses that had every reason to shut a person out.

.Readers who are at the start of their journey with horses, in the middle or at the end, can all glean pearls of wisdom from these pages! 




RUNNING STRAIGHT . . . . to YOU! New Guidelines Promulgated to help Race Horses in Transition!

Guidelines Help Former Racehorses Go from Track to New Careers                         
The American Association of Equine Practitioners has developed guidelines to help veterinarians and adoption groups successfully transition retired racehorses to new homes and new careers.  “Transitioning the Retired Racehorse:  Guidelines for Equine Practitioners, Adoption Organizations and Horse Owners” provides an overview of the common physical challenges affecting some former racehorses and helps establish expectations for a horse’s future capabilities.
Developed by the Transitioning Subcommittee of the AAEP Racing Committee, the guidelines grew from a need expressed by rescue and retirement organizations at the 2010 Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit.  In addition to criteria for physical assessments, the guidelines include estimated cost-of-care data from CANTER, a non-profit organization that provides retiring Thoroughbred racehorses with opportunities for new careers.
“The AAEP is pleased to assist and is proud of the many veterinarians and adoption groups who are committed to helping racehorses enjoy new careers,” said William A. Moyer, DVM, 2011 AAEP president.  “The guide is intended to be a resource to enhance decision making in the best interest of the horse.”
The guidelines are available on the AAEP website at http://www.aaep.org/images/files/TransitioningGuidelines2011.pdf.  Members of the AAEP’s Transitioning Subcommittee are Reynolds Cowles, DVM, chair; Jay Addison, DVM; Foster Northrop, DVM; Mary Scollay, DVM; John Stick, DVM; and Carol Swandby, VMD.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Ky., was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse.  Currently, the AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 10,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.

YOUNG HORSES TO START with Feel & Release -- April 17th / Demo & Equitation Class, Smithville, TX

This coming Sunday, April 17th (9 am - 5:30 pm) in Smithville, TX we have another at the big time planned at Crawford's Ranch. 

Vivian and Richard Crawford's Ranch 

 2 1 8 1   Hwy 3 0 4  Smithville, TX 


The public is invited to come and learn more about Leslie Desmond's feel & release approach to groundwork and riding, as taught to her by Bill Dorrance (1906 - 1999) of Salinas, CA.
A growing number of professional trainers now integrate this approach into their normal training programs with better-than-expected results! 

 Leslie will be working with some youngsters (1 and 2 years old), continuing with Isaac and VonDiesel, Little Caesar, Mia and the riders in both Equitation Classes.  There is room for 4 additional riders.  $175 per horse and rider.


Pressure & Release


Feel & Release

are indeed connected, and they can be successfully integrated into a well-rounded program that brings refinement into the handlers awareness and practice for optimum results.

Participation Status: Demo horse positions are filled, if you want to be on the wait list, please contact Leslie.

 If you can join us for dinner Saturday, April 16th,  6:30 PM at Cedar's Mediterranean Grill, in Bastrop, TX. We would like to have your company! (Please contact Laura at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or leave word / send SMS to 602 228 7612. )



Too many horses without a purpose . . . ?


New study on abandoned horses reveals the size of the problem



Dec. 20, 2010 The Journal of American Sciences has issued a study on unwanted horses and their outcomes. The researchers investigated the effect of closing equine slaughter facilities in the U.S. in 2007.

The tough economy also has contributed to a sharp increase in the number of unwanted horses throughout the United States, with estimates totaling 100,000 horses per year, according to the report. One hundred forty-four organizations in 37 states accepted almost 8,000 horses from 2007 to 2009.

The cost of caring for one of these horses averages $3,648 a year. From the report: "The estimated maximum capacity for the 326 eligible registered non-profit equine rescue facilities of 13,400 is well below the widely published estimate of 100,000 horses that become unwanted in the United States every year. Non-profit equine rescue and sanctuary facilities have historically played an important role in safeguarding the welfare of horses in society, but funding and capacity are limiting factors to their potential expansion in continuing to care for the current population of unwanted and neglected horses in the United States." Herald-Leader columnist Merlene Davis reported on Second Chance Equine Rescue in Paris, Ky.