MCTA provides some horse sense about the training of barn cats


December 13, 1992|By MUPHEN WHITNEY

The Maryland Combined Training Association usually goes by the initials MCTA. At the awards banquet celebrating its 25th year last weekend, it could have used the initials M-CAT.

The guest of honor at the Turf Valley Country Club affair was a feline named Tabitha, who disproved the widely held theory that cats are untrainable. Tabitha's owner, Robin Miller Brueckmann, is a horsewoman and dressage judge who works at the Thorncroft Therapeutic Center.

Brueckmann introduced Tabitha as a "purebred, registered, imported Texas barn cat."

"The first thing you must realize in training a cat is that a cat is not a dog, or horse or lion," Brueckmann said. "Dogs are pack animals and will follow the pack leader, horses are herd animals and will follow the herd leader, and lions are organized around the social group of the pride.

"Barn cats, however, are solitary hunters. They don't recognize any higher authority. The trick is to train the cat to think that it has trained you to produce kitty treats."

Brueckmann said that you must find the type of treat that the cat will kill for. That will provide the motivation for the cat to repeat behaviors. "You must observe the cat's natural behaviors and when the cat exhibits a behavior that you want to reinforce, give it a kitty treat," Brueckmann said.

Although Tabitha held center stage during Brueckmann's demonstration, the rest of the evening was given over to horse things. The MCTA has grown to more than 350 members during its 25 years; 112 were in attendance.

Awards were given for various riding accomplishments and for volunteer efforts. The new slate of officers were introduced. A silent auction was held, which added almost $700 to the organization's treasury. There was a long table full of 25 years worth of memorabilia.

And Scholarship Award Chairman Peggy Sword presented this year's recipients of the Joan Leigh Thomas Bartel Memorial Grants, which are cash awards that allow MCTA members to pursue further training by taking lessons, attending clinics or attending certification courses.

Junior recipient Regina Walsh of Edgewood is going to use her scholarship money to join the Elkridge-Harford Pony Club. The 17-year-old student at Edgewood High is starting a young horse in the spring and is looking forward to participating in the Pony Club program.

"My new horse is named Call Waiting," Regina said.

"She is out of Caledonia Bay, the 21-year-old pony that I rode this year to earn the Denegri Trophy. I'm very pleased about receiving the scholarship and I will keep working hard because I like to help organize cross country events and horse shows."

Senior Recipient Cathy Day of Sparks teaches at Oldfields School where she coaches the eventing team.

"I'm not totally sure what I'll do with the grant money yet," said Day, "because I haven't had a chance to look around and see just what is available.

"But I want to take some dressage and jumping lessons as refreshers. Then I can pass that knowledge on to my students."

MCTA 1992 year-end awards

Senior Horse of the Year (Castlebar Trophy): Champion--Thunder Bay owned by Linda and Walter Reynolds; Reserve champion--High Velocity owned by Leslie Ann Kline; third--Occidental owned by Jean Prescott.

Junior and Young Rider Horse of the Year: Champion--Sultan owned by Lida Thompson; Reserve champion--Aloysius owned by Tiffany Hill; third--Casper owned by Anne-Marie Halsey.

High score Junior MCTA member (Colonel Ottmar Schaurek Memorial Trophy): first--Tiffany Hill; second--Rumsey Gilbert; third --Mandy Gilbert.

Leading Training Level Junior (Red Shutters Trophy): first--Anne-Marie Halsey; second--Emily Daignault; third--Amy Caviston.

Leading Novice Level Junior (Highland Farm Trophy): first--Jenny Hanlin; second--Jody Gohn; third--Jessica Brophy.

Leading Training Level and Above Senior MCTA Member (Charles A. Laubach Trophy): first--Leslie Ann Kline; second--Jean Prescott; third (tie)--Ami Howard and Diane Rogler.

Leading Training Level Senior (Sunrock Ridge Memorial Trophy): first--Dawn Beach; second--Pamela Bartholomew; third--Chris Wadman.

Leading Novice Level Senior (Rip Van Winkle Trophy): first--Josette Mitchell; second--Sheri Coster; third--Gail Winn.

Leading Baby Novice Junior (The Denegri Trophy): first--Regina Welsh; second (tie)--Missy Zielinski, Theresa Coleman, Sarah Bright; third--Aileen Wasson.

Leading Baby Novice Senior (The Tuckahoe Farm Trophy): first--Colleen Callahan; second--Lyn Skilman; third--Amanda Wharton.

Jenny Camp Trophy, Pre-Novice Division: Beth Stambaugh and April D.

Jenny Camp Trophy, Senior Novice Division: Linda Reynolds and Distant Fire.

Scholarship Awards: Junior Recipient--Regina Welsh; Senior Recipient--Cathy Day.

Volunteer Awards: Anne Sears, Elise Shelton, Dee Huddles, Clay Winn.

Special Volunteer Award: Kathy Tucker-Slaterback.

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