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Working Equitation in the Foothills

Hear the word “equitation” and many horse enthusiasts think of a class judged on the rider’s form and effectiveness.  In reality, the definition of equitation is just the art and practice of horsemanship and horse riding. From there one could say, Working Equitation (WE) is the art and practice of horsemanship as it applies to the tasks that horses help people perform on the ranch.  While WE is an international sport originally pioneered by Italy, Portugal, Spain, and France, it is hitting its stride in the United States.  The first international competition was held in 1996 and then in 2004, the World Association for Working Equitation (WAWE) was established to govern the sport.  WAWE rules are used for all international competitions, but each individual country has its own rules for domestic competitions.

Working Equitation was formed to celebrate and showcase the horse and rider partnership with a foundation in classical horsemanship and the use of the horse in ranch work.  The sport seeks to support and allow countries to stay true to their own historical types of horsemanship, as well as working traditions and their traditional tack and attire.  Of course in the United States, that is a very diverse group with a melting pot of traditions and styles.  At local competitions you will see all shapes of saddles and styles of dress.

In the United States, Working Equitation competitions offer five performance levels to accommodate horses and riders at various stages of training: Introductory, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Masters. The Masters level is the international standard of the sport.

In each level there are four trials or tests that are put together at a competition.  First, the Dressage trial consists of a test where collective marks are given for movements considering the horse’s impulsion, submission, and quality of gaits, as well as for the rider’s position and effective use of aids.  As with classical Dressage, each level builds upon the last and prepares the horses training for the next level.

The second trial is Ease of Handling, which applies the skills performed in the Dressage test to an obstacle course.  Each obstacle is given a score of 0-10 paying attention to the quality, ease, symmetry and geometry of the obstacles and transitions in between in light of what is looked for in the Dressage phase.

Third is the Speed trial which is often the horse and rider’s favorite, as well the spectators.  This phase takes a part of the same obstacle course as in the Ease of Handling phase, but time becomes the key component with time penalties being added for errors.

Finally, the Cow trial tests the ability of horse and rider pairs to work cattle individually and with a group of 3-4 horse and rider teams.  The objective is for each rider to individually sort, cut, and herd a pre-selected cow from the herd and then as a team herd the selected cow into a designated pen.  Due to the logistics of having cattle at an event, not all competitions have the Cow trial.

At the end of the competition, horse and rider pairs receive scores based on their placing in each of the trials, and then the scores are tallied to determine the overall placings.

Allison and Rosa

Over the past few years there have been a growing number of WE enthusiasts in the foothills.  Indian Hills resident Christina Turissini has been the force behind organizing lessons, clinics and play days for WE.

The foothills group started when Christina won a free group lesson from Allison Mazurkiewicz at a High Country WE event which resulted in bringing Allison to our area. Allison is excited to see this group flourish with regular clinics and advance in the sport. The Foothills group has a wide variety of horses and riders which makes her clinics educational for all, whether riding or watching.  Allison’s aim is to be an ambassador for the sport and spread the fun that is WE.  Allison competes up to the Intermediate level, holds an “r” judge card with the Confederation of WE (as well as holding a board position), is a member of WE United and is a founding member of High Country WE (created in 2014), who puts on several shows in Colorado every year.

Allison states, “Working Equitation requires you and your horse to work together as a team in a soft, fluid manner. As an instructor and trainer, I find the obstacle course an effective way to teach horses and riders how to focus and gain confidence in skills that might be new to them. The obstacles bring home the lesson of flat work training into everyday riding as a tool to improve your horse for any job you have them do.”

She goes on to mention, “students that have fear or confidence issues learn to focus on a task thereby reducing anxiety levels. The rider and the horse learn to perform something new and come together as a more confident team and are often more relaxed by the end of the lesson.”

Claire and Bitta

Local Claire Gosnell and her horse Bitta, an 11 year old Tennessee Walking Horse have been training and competing in WE since 2013.  Claire has found WE to be a great way to strengthen the horse and rider bond, as well as their communication in a powerful way.

Claire explains, “we enjoy all four phases of the sport. Dressage has helped develop collection, working from the hindquarters, soft feel, communication and precision. Working the obstacles is just flat out fun. Whether it’s working a gate, side-passing a pole or spearing a ring from a bull’s nose with a garrocha pole with precision or at speed, it has made us both a better horse and rider pair.  My favorite though is the cattle phase – the ultimate objective of WE.”

Whatever you do with your horse, WE has something you can use.  Jumping, Dressage, trail or western, WE touches on a part of your training.  Horses and riders can see the reasoning behind the flat work and doing obstacles adds an interest to schooling in the arena, plus WE creates a well-rounded horse and a confident rider.  2018 © Heather McWilliams

For WE information in the US, go to www.weunited.us and www.confederationwe.us.  Make sure to like the Foothills CO Working Equitation Facebook page (High Country Working Equitation too) for the latest on upcoming clinics and play days.  Contact foothills group founder, Christina Turissini at [email protected] and Allison Mazurkiewicz, Tall Grass Horsemanship at [email protected]  Mt. Falcon Equestrian is bringing in WE trainer Steve Kutie for clinics as well, see kutieperformancehorses.com/about and email Nicole at [email protected]

Lifelong Learning – Clinics, Instructors and Competition

Lifelong Learning – Clinics, Instructors and Competition

In Colorado, we have a bundle of horse related educational opportunities especially during the spring, summer and fall.  The quality and frequency of those opportunities will only grow with our consistent participation.  You will find that most any competition or clinic has a place for all levels of riders and horses.  Even a clinic with an international caliber instructor is open to all levels of riders, simply to fill the time slots in order to pay for their trip, time and the facility.  I encourage you this year to make clinics, riding lessons and competitions a part of your yearly goals to better yourself and your horse, while helping to bring top instructors to our area.

Clinics are just a compliment to an excellent local instructor.  No matter your level of riding, having eyes on the ground are invaluable.  Olympic rider Robert Dover states, “there is never a point in a rider’s life where it’s a good idea to ride without some form of help.”

As you start making your plans for your horse schedule this year, take a step back and intentionally make the most of the precious time we spend with our horses.

Make goals:  Write them down!  How many times have we heard this?  It’s true, people who actually write down their goals have an 80% higher rate of achieving them.  Don’t overthink it, just write them down.  It is rewarding to look over your goals at the end of the year and see what you have accomplished.  If you have an instructor, go over your goals with them and make a plan to accomplish them.  Your goal may be as simple as getting your horse to load in the trailer without hesitation, or it may be the year end award in a local organization or maybe it is even to qualify for a national competition.  Getting there takes goals and planning, day by day.  In addition, have a picture in your mind of what you want your horse to be like in a year, in five years.

INSTRUCTORS:  Don’t have an instructor?  Find one!

Goals:  Look at your goals and find an instructor that lines up with those goals.  Do you want to compete?  Find an instructor who competes and knows what judges are looking for at a competition.  Depending on your goals, you may need to take lessons at least once a week, or maybe you can only afford the time or money once a month, just commit to consistency and make it a priority.

Accessibility:  Find an instructor that is within reach geographically for your time availability.  If you cannot trailer to them, see if you can get them to come to you by getting a group together to do a morning of lessons that makes it worth their trip.

Personality mesh:  Riding with 10 different instructors in 2017 taught me personally a few things.  Instructors have different teaching styles and we all have different learning styles.  Find one that matches you.  Find an instructor who can find your strengths and weaknesses.  One who challenges you each time to be a better rider.  Find an instructor who likes your horse specifically and ultimately considers the horse’s well-being above all.  Avoid instructors that make you feel like an idiot the entire lesson.  On the flip side, avoid instructors who mostly just make you feel good about yourself, but don’t really teach you anything.

Lifelong learner:  Make sure your instructor is committed to their own lifelong learning.  Dover states, “The No. 1 mistake they (professionals) make is they stop being a student.  If you look at the greatest athletes in any sport, they’re never without great people on the ground supporting them and helping them and making sure things are exactly as they should be.”

Take notes:  Keep a notebook and write down what your learned after EVERY lesson or clinic – before you forget.  Review your notes before each ride and periodically look back over your notes to remember helpful exercises or thoughts that may have new meaning today.

Homework:  Make sure you have homework to take with you to work on in between times to make the most out of each lesson and make consistent progress.  Write the homework in your notes.

Be prepared:  For clinics or lessons, make sure you and your horse are fit.  Dress you and your well-groomed horse smartly with clean tack and good equipment.  Ride consistently in preparation for the lesson or clinic in order to get the most out of it other than exhaustion.  Have in mind and be able to articulate what you are working on and what difficulties you are having.  Most importantly, BE TEACHABLE.  You are there to learn and be challenged.  It should be hard and maybe uncomfortable.  You are there to be pushed outside of your box by a professional who has dedicated their professional lives to being better every day themselves.


Discipline Based Clinics:  If you are interested in a certain discipline, not matter your level, find the local organization, check out the schedule, find a clinic and sign up.  Every organization has several clinics every year in different areas and organized by different people.  While they are more expensive sometimes than lessons, they can be a great compliment to your local instructor.  They are also a great way to try out a new discipline, or to expose your horse to cows or a different location with different obstacles that you may not have access to without attending a clinic.  Clinics are also a great way to meet a new group of people to ride with that have similar interests.

Foundational Clinics:  This type of clinic can be beneficial to any discipline, horse and rider and can serve to find holes in foundational skills.  It does not matter what kind of saddle you ride in, these clinics work on better communication between you and your horse.  Kip Fladland, a student of Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance and Buck Brannaman is a great example of a foundational clinic.

One day or multiple day:  While clinics that are more than one day logistically can be more difficult, the intensive effort and daily consistency can advance you and your horses abilities exponentially in a short amount of time.

Colorado and horses are a perfect combination.  With a wide variety of thriving disciplines in our region, educational opportunities abound.  There are not many areas that have such strong organizations in western and English disciplines, not to mention incredible trail riding.  Taking consistent lessons, going to clinics and competing, helps give riders focus, purpose and our horses a job.  While it all costs money, with the value that you will add to the time and enjoyment with your horse and the problems that you will avoid down the road, you can’t afford not to be a lifelong learner!  Heather McWilliams © 2018


A Throwaway Horse and A Dream Come True by Bill Morgan

We drove toward Bennett, Colorado to look at a horse.  Our friend, Lindsay the vet tech, joined us – I wanted a seasoned opinion.  As I reflected on the journey that led us to this place, we talked about my having been raised on a Thoroughbred breeding farm in Kentucky, then when my parents divorced, horses no longer being a part of my life.  Although they had left an imprint on my soul.

I felt it on the day that my wife and I saw the miniature horse at the vet two years earlier.  I assisted in getting him into the exam area, and felt him relax and let go of his tension at my touch.  In that moment an old fire reignited.  After some research, and finding a horse where we had “that connection”, we came home with a miniature stallion (a World’s Top Five stallion), and his feisty gelding son.  Smaller, and easier to care for and train, they seemed a great fit.  I trained the stallion to harness, and got both a show cart and lightweight Hyperbike cart, and took to the trail.  He is a mighty package in a small size and won the first Combined Driving event we entered.  But there were trails my little man could not take me.  Was it crazy to want another horse, a saddle horse?

I looked at all kinds of gaited horses, and was about to despair at finding a decent one in good health, with a good spirit, then I heard about a string of Tennessee Walkers in Bennett.  We went to see and possibly ride them, expecting another a disappointment.  When we pulled up, we saw horses in tough shape.  The closer we looked at them, the worse they looked.  They looked like throwaways.  There were ribs showing, scars all over, and sunken loins matched with eyes that showing they had given up.  Our vet tech friend was incensed, and privately told me she was ready to report this fellow.  I shared her outrage, but since we were there…

None of these horses even had a name.  No papers, no history, and no names.  That was a telling sign of the care they were getting.

The best looking of the bunch, a TWH over 17 hh, the herd bully, was already spoken for.  I rode one, and then another, after the seller put a saddle on them and warmed them up.  Nothing so far.  There was one horse left, a bay and white pinto, with scars and hair falling out.  His feet were overgrown, shoes held on with a total of eight nails.  The seller admitted he was a little afraid of him.  He warned me that he was just “green broke” even though he was around 7 years old.  He put a severe twisted wire long shank snaffle bit and an ill-fitting saddle on him, and swung a leg over.  The whites in this horse’s eyes showed the horse had the same opinion of the rider as the rider did of the horse.

The horse took off in a very strange, “walk-a-lope” gait that made me think he was lame.  He was tough to handle and spooky.  The seller came back for me to get on.  I was an extremely green rider then and my riding experience could be measured in hours.  What could go wrong?

I swung a leg over him, and simply asked that he stand.  I exhaled, and I could feel him relax like that little gelding at the vet.  I had learned soft hands through driving a miniature, and I gave him the slightest leg.  We walked around, over logs, circled both ways.  We went on a little trail with the seller’s warning, “be careful now, he is scared of water.”

We ended up girth deep in water, and he was playing in it.  He gaited nicely, then that funny walk-a-lope, then back down to a nice gait.  He did everything I asked, and it was like we had a connection.  I was falling for the ugliest, roughest, greenest horse in the bunch, with a goofy gait and possibly lame.

On the drive home, I kept thinking that this was NOT the way to buy a horse.  But that night, I felt this horse seeking me.  I don’t know how else to put it.  He was looking for me, and I felt it clearly and sharply.  I woke up with a start, and told my wife, who said, “you have to get him now.”  I said it would depend on the vet check the next day.

At the vet check, the vet said that the level of care was not good, just shy of reportable.  His feet had overgrown his shoes, one foot was ½” out of balance, and fluid had accumulated on the right front fetlock.  He was grade 2 lame as a result.  Discussing with the vet, she felt the foot condition might – and she stressed, ‘might’ – explain the lameness score.  Other than that, he was in surprisingly good health, not counting a thin coat and very poor body condition.

I took a chance that I would counsel others to avoid.  The next day, he was in my trailer headed home.

My farrier was outraged at the condition of his feet.  I fed him 12 QUARTS (not a misprint) of good pellet feed a day with all the grass hay he wanted.  Within a few months, this bay and white pinto turned BLACK and white, with a luxurious thick coat.  I gave him a proper fancy name: Foxhaven’s Medicine Man (because of his walkabout in the spirit world, seeking me), barn name, Dakotah.  No scars remained, and he filled out and muscled up nicely.  We took lesson after lesson with a dressage trainer who did eventing.  With a kind bit and a custom saddle, he was comfortable, happy and we learned more in that year of lessons than I can describe.

Every time we went on a trail ride, it seemed like he not only loved every minute, but we forged a connection that allowed an ever-softer cue.  My farrier suggested that his athleticism and good bone really would be a match for a NATRC (North American Trail Ride Conference) competitive trail ride.  We entered our first one, were first in our class and I was hooked.

Dakotah continued to mellow, having become quite sure footed on the trail, and ever more trusting that when I told him something was safe, it really was – and that I “have his back”.  We continued to train and condition, and his progress has been amazing.  He is no longer afraid of people nor avoids them.

I registered him with the American Indian Horse Registry based on conformation, giving him more than ‘grade’ status.  In his first year with NATRC, he was the National High Point American Indian Horse in NATRC and we just learned he earned that for the second year in a row in 2017.  He also won his 2017 Region 3 Novice Championship.  I am currently in the process of training him to harness as well.  His trust of me, and mine of him, is deepening with every ride, as we learn deeper communication and I learn better horsemanship.  As he has built up muscle and been in top condition, I learned that he is also a speed racking horse – a very fast one.

I am struck by how apt his name is: in the Lakota tongue, it is Wicasa Wakan, one who is spirit-connected.  He is for sure my Medicine Man.  Just a throwaway horse?  Not this one.  I found my heart horse for sure in him, because he had the courage to reach out in a dream.

Edited by Heather McWilliams

Winter riding in the Foothills – What do your horse neighbors do?

Being a horse owner in the Colorado Foothills offers different dynamics to riding in the different seasons.  We have a plethora of amazing trails within an hour of our door.  Our spring, summer and fall weather offers many days of beautiful outdoor riding weather, with few days lost to precipitation.  But living in an arid climate, we take what moisture we can get!

The Rocky Mountains are just that, rocky – the ground is hard and abrasive on horse hooves.  There are very few horses that can take all of our trails barefoot.  The majority of riders have their horses shod for the main riding months, at least in front or use some kind of trail boots when riding in hard or rocky terrain.

This year, fall and early winter have allowed for some beautiful cool weather riding, but we all know the snow will soon fall and the mountains and valleys will fill their stores of moisture for the coming year.

Indoor arenas are more the exception in our community, but are a great way to carry on with riding and training no matter the weather.  Some people choose to board their horses at a nearby indoor facility during the winter or even head south for a month or so to facilities such as in Arizona that offer Roping, Team Penning and Ranch Sorting during the winter months.  Some head to California or Florida in the early spring to start getting geared up for the summer show season.  No matter the discipline, the local events slow down significantly or come to a winter hiatus.  What do we do to keep our horses active and fit?

Here are some winter activity ideas from your local horse neighbors on what they do in the winter months when the trails get icy and the outdoor arenas are hard and crusty.

  1. Barb G. in Evergreen

Activities – Trail riding in neighborhood, local fields and fox hunting, but only when the footing is good. I am a safety freak!  I have had my horse and I slip and fall and I want to avoid this again!

Arena – Outdoor freezes, sometimes trailer to Jeffco Fairgrounds Indoor Arena.  I have heard there is a brand of magnesium chloride that is environmentally safe you can mix with outdoor arena sand to keep it thawed out.

Turnout – Always, no matter the weather.

Time off – Not by choice, but just inevitable sometimes.

Winter boarding – Thought about it, but turnout is limited and I won’t give up giving them my special attention and care.

Feet – Borium and snow pads – tried pulling shoes in the winter, but mine come up lame.  Tried Easy boots – but just simpler to shoe.

Clipping – Partial clip.

  1. Nicole K. at Mount Falcon Equestrian Center in Indian Hills

Activities – We ride around our property all the time unless it’s terribly icy and love riding in the snow. When our outdoor arena becomes snowy – I pull a sled behind my horse!  This winter I am planning on pulling skiers behind me for some skijoring. Otherwise I haul down to Chatfield Park and other parks as long as it’s not icy.

Arena – We have an indoor arena and a heated barn so that makes the coldest of months bearable. Still many of my clients don’t ride much during the holiday season in December if it’s too cold. I encourage everyone to at least lunge their horses and give them a mash after workout to keep them hydrated and help prevent impaction colic. If we don’t get too much snow our outdoor arena stays alright.

Feet – Barefoot horses stay barefoot in winter. For horses that I shoe, I add snow pads. I truly believe horses here in Colorado need some sort of hoof protection while being ridden – hoof boots or shoes. The ground is just not forgiving and very abrasive – even in winter – riding that much more on the sandy surface of the indoor, still files their toes plus they don’t grow much horn in winter.

  1. Amy H. in South Evergreen

Activities – Love loping in deep fresh snow in the pasture, or for slick days, ground and liberty work!

  1. Chris S. in Evergreen

Activities – I seem to do more training in the winter because the icy trails (especially in the shade) aren’t safe.

Favorite Activity – One year a friend and I trailered down to Chatfield Park.  We bundled up as it was about 20 degrees F.  There was snow on the ground, but we just walked and stayed on the dirt service roads.  It was sunny and beautiful and one of my favorite rides ever.  The horses really seemed to enjoy it too.

Arena – My outdoor arena stays pretty good until January, but then gets too frozen and hard. Then I go down to Jeffco indoor arena 1-3 times a week.  It costs $5 and is usually open Monday thru Thursday, but you do need to call to make sure it hasn’t been rented.

Feet – My horses wear rubber boots when I trail ride so I feel a little better about riding the hard roads, but do tend to spend more time in arenas.

Clip – No

  1. Mary T. in Conifer

Activities – I still try to ride at least 5 times a week—and continue with lessons– regardless of the wind or the cold.   Only if it is below 25 degrees do I not ride or ride a much more easy routine for the sake of our horses.

Arena – I board at Red Hawk Ranch in Conifer which has both an outdoor and a lighted indoor arena (although unheated) my riding changes very little with the seasons.    Our outdoor gets good sun and is generally clear but when not, we use the indoor.

Feet – We pull shoes in the winter since we are generally only riding in the arena so generally do not trail ride.  We typically do not do shows in the winter.

Clip – No

  1. Heather B. in Conifer

Activities – I love riding in the snow, and my horses love it as well.  Of course I work on big turns, or collection (I used to get wonderful passage on my dressage horse in the deep snow!) and transitions, we go on trail rides, either up here or down the hill, depending on the footing.

Arena – I try and get in some work in an indoor just to keep the training from falling too far backwards!

Feet – Shoes with snow pads

  1. Dan L. in Evergreen

Activities – Fox hunting and trail riding.  Fox hunting is a winter sport because originally hunts ran over farmer’s fields, which are fallow only in the late fall and winter. If I have two operational horses, I will hunt twice a week during the October through April season. Although the Arapahoe Hunt is very fast, it is also quite relaxed about riders who want to go at a more sedate pace on any kind of sensible horse. If you want to ride right up with the hounds, you need a fast, well conditioned horse, normally a calm thoroughbred or cross (yes, hard to find).  I do ride in the “first flight”, so I have to start conditioning on the local trails in August, and then exercise once or twice a week during the season. Fortunately, there are some good people who enjoy helping me out with the exercise program. Hunt season also means lots of grooming, tack cleaning, trailering and all the special care that goes into keeping a horse in top condition for seven months. Fox hunting is the only horse sport that is non-competitive where you get the thrill of a five mile gallop across the Colorado high plains.  Check out the Arapahoe Hunt website at http://arapahoehunt.com/ or call Dan at 303-674-3834 for more information.

Feet – Shoes with borium.

  1. Heather M. in Evergreen

Activities – Riding in fields, fox hunting, riding in outdoor as weather allows, trailering to Jeffco Fairgrounds when the other activities are not possible.  Spring Gulch Equestrian Area in Highlands Ranch can be a great place to trailer to in the winter.

Turnout – always with shelter options.

Time off – I like my horses to get breaks and that happens naturally in the winter months when I cannot ride as often.

Winter boarding – Have tried and may again depending on goals, but I miss my horses and caring for them!

Arena – If ground is good and it is above ~25 degrees F, yes!  If too cold, don’t want my horse to get too wet and chilled.  I only have run in barns.

Feet – Depending on job, two are barefoot for winter and have trail boots if needed, one has shoes with snow pads and holes for studs.

Clip – The fit horse that gets ridden the most is partially clipped and blanketed as appropriate.  Others in light work, au natural.

What are your plans this winter?  Email me with more ideas to share – [email protected]

Indoor or outdoor arenas:

Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden, 303-271-6600

Indiana Indoor Equestrian Center in Arvada, 720-394-0191

Parks close down the hill with good sun and trails for winter:

Spring Gulch Equestrian Area, Chatfield State Park, Bear Creek Lake Park.

Please Join Us! Benefit for Bob Benefiel November 19th!

It is not what happens to you in life, but how you respond to it.  This sentiment has been said many ways, by many people, but Bob Benefiel is a living example.

Bob and Jody Benefiel moved to Evergreen in March of 2006 and shortly thereafter, he joined the Evergreen Rodeo Association.  Bob was President of the ERA from 2012 – 2015 (2 terms as president), Vice President 2010 – 2011, Head of Security 2008 – 2009. He was also on the Board of Directors for 2015 – 2016.  Bob was also very involved with the ERA Royalty Program and traveled thousands of miles to local rodeos in Colorado and Wyoming as well as the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas as an ambassador for ERA.

On August 17, 2017, Bob was bucked off his horse.  Immediately after the fall, Bob was unconscious and not breathing, he then started breathing on his own.  911 was called and his wife Jody held his cervical spine until EMS arrived.  He was taken by ambulance to Elk Creek Elementary School where he was met by the AirLife helicopter and flown to St Anthony Hospital.  It was determined that he had suffered a severe spinal cord injury that was caused by a herniated disc at C2 & C3 that was compressing his spinal column.  He also had 2 additional cervical vertebrae that had stable fractures.  He underwent emergency surgery that same night and was then admitted to the Neuro Trauma ICU at St. Anthony Hospital.

On August 24, Bob was transferred to Craig Hospital with a central cord injury with permanent damage to his spinal column at the level of C3 & C4.  He is considered to have incomplete paralysis.  At the time of admission to Craig Hospital he just had movement of his big toes and thumbs.

At Craig Hospital, Bob had an intense rehabilitation schedule from 8am-4pm daily.  He did not stop there.  Anytime he had a space in his schedule, he found an opening in the therapy schedule to fill it in.  In each part of his therapy appointments he pushed his limits and went beyond what was required that day.  Bob told everyone at Craig that HE WOULD WALK OUT OF THERE!  With his dedication, grit, determination and of course the attitude that this was the time to COWBOY UP, he made huge strides daily.

Any free time outside of therapy, Bob spent talking and encouraging other patients to keep trying.  Bob’s focus and optimism throughout his journey has been infectious to all of those around him.  His attitude made such an impression on the Craig staff, Bob has been asked to return to give talks about his accident and his recovery.

Incredibly, although not surprisingly to his friends, family and staff at Craig Hospital, Bob did just as he said he would and walked out of Craig on November 2nd.  He will continue outpatient therapy 3 days a week and looks forward to returning to the saddle soon.

Bob and Mark Johnson Celebrating Bob’s November 2nd release from Craig Hospital!

On November 19th from 2-6pm, please join your community at The Little Bear in Downtown Evergreen as we gather to support and raise funds for Bob and Jody.  Be ready for a spectacular afternoon with your community and the band, Barely Gettin’ By.  Bob and Jody’s life has understandably completely changed.  Jody left her job to be available to help support and care for Bob on his road to recovery.  They have sold their home and moved into a rental until they can find the right new place to hang their hats.  In addition to the medical bills that continue, their home will need adaptive equipment and possible modifications.  See you there!

Notes from just a few of Bob and Jody’s friends!

The day before I went into surgery for breast cancer, Bob knew I was going to be down and out for quite sometime and it would a very long time before I was back in the saddle. He wanted to make sure I went into surgery with one last good memory. It was a cold December day, but we hauled our horses down to Chatfield (where we were hoping it may be a little warmer) and had one final ride. We froze our butts off, but we had a great ride. It was a moment that meant so much to me and a memory I will remember and cherish always. Bob has a heart of gold and would do anything to help someone out or to put a smile on a sick girls face! I keep a quote on my desk, to keep me going on tough days. “Grit…..Facing challenges with courage and strength, and working through them, no matter how difficult they appear.” Bob has true grit and I am so proud to call this strong, courageous, kind man my friend. – Jessica (Austin) Strain

Those who know Bob are used to seeing him on the back of one of his horses or traveling the state promoting the sport of rodeo and helping aspiring royalty and other young competitors achieve their dreams.  Often he hauls his own horses for these kids to borrow for a contest or attends just to lend his support and advice to nervous young competitors in the warm up arena.  Bob is truly a tireless giver.  Many adults and children alike in our mountain community have been the recipient of his warm and unlimited generosity.  The road to recovery from his accident has been long and arduous and the expenses significant.  Bob has worked day and night to be able to hug his friends and grandchildren and hopefully mount his horse once again.  Please join me in giving back to a man who gives so much to the equine community yet asks for so little in return.  May God bless you in your generosity.  – Mary Tribby

Bob and Jody have been a huge part of my life since I met them back in 2014 when I started my reign as the 2015 Evergreen Rodeo Princess; I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. Bob is selfless, passionate, and the best spokesperson for both the Evergreen Rodeo and our mountain community. He has put so much time and effort into helping and supporting our community over the years that it’s the least we can do to help him and his family in their time of need. – Lauren Hladik

Intermountain Horse Association Poker Ride, Upcoming Meetings and The Westernaires!

As a horse person around our foothills community, I often get questions about where to meet other horse people and how to find people to ride with.  As a member of the Intermountain Horse Association, I have found this group to be one of the most diverse groups of local men and women that are passionate about horses.  People in this group are trail riders, dressage riders, barrel racers, ropers, eventers, fox hunters, ranch sorters, endurance riders and more, not to mention that many of them are active members of other horse organizations.

IHA meets from September – May on the 3rd Tuesday’s of the month in the event room (take a left before host stand) at Beau Jos in Downtown Evergreen.  Come early to socialize at 6:30pm.  Food and beverages available.  The meeting starts at 7pm and topics include subjects such as pasture management, saddle fitting, weed management, Africa on horseback, trail riding in Colorado, the Colorado Horse Industry, joint therapies, infectious diseases and more.  Plan to come out this year to these meetings and get to know others in your horse community.  The IHA group is welcoming and made up of passionate horse people throughout the foothills community.  See more information at intermountainhorse.org or find them on Facebook at IntermountainHorse.  The meetings for this season are:  October 17, November 21, December 19 (Christmas Party at The McWilliams’- not at Beau Jos!), January 16, February 20, March 20, April 17, May 15.

IHA presenting $1200 check to Westernaires

Ever year in the first couple of weeks of September, the IHA organizes a Poker Ride at Alderfer Three Sisters Ranch Open Space Park in Evergreen.  Winning high and low hand riders split the pot with a local non-profit horse organization.  This year’s ride fell on September 9th with The Westernaires as the beneficiary.  This spring, The Westernaires horses suffered an outbreak of a highly infectious disease often called Strangles.  This resulted in veterinary expenses and lost income due to a quarantine of the facility.  The IHA Poker Ride was able to donate $1,200 to The Westernaires thanks to the participants and sponsors!

If you are new to the area, The Westernaires are a world-renowned horse program that was started in 1954 in Golden, Colorado.  Because of its high standards and success, similar programs across the country have been modeled after The Westernaires.  The non-profit organization is represented by over 1,000 kids from 9-19 years old.  They encourage “self-respect, responsibility and leadership through horsemanship and family participation”.  At its foundation, The Westernaires is a precision mounted drill team, but it is much more than that.  Kids progress through levels of teams that include reenactments, Dressage teams, jumping, driving ponies and so much more.  Learning proper horse care is a foundational value and the kids and families are dedicated to immersing themselves in excellence, Western heritage and values.  The Westernaires organization owns over 80 horses and ponies, plus some mules and draft horses, making this a great place for horse crazy kids to get started and involved with horses.

To learn a little bit more about them, their annual show called Horsecapades is coming up at the end of this month.  Please buy tickets at the grocery from these hard-working kids and take your family and friends to a performance.

Performances are:  Saturday, October 28th — 10am;  Saturday, October 28th — 2pm*;  Saturday, October 28th — 7pm*;  Sunday, October 29th — 2pm**a pre-show begins 30 minutes in advance.

Go to their website at Westernaires.org for more information on the program or Horsecapades.

Overnight Colorado Horse Trips

Fall is one of the most beautiful times to ride in Colorado with the changing leaves, cool weather and minimal tourism traffic.  In the last couple of years, we have explored a few Colorado places to camp with our horses and trail ride.  Here are some of the places offered in our beautiful state that provide overnight facilities for people and horses.  For more information, details and additional ideas see Margi Evans’ book:  Riding Colorado III:  Day and Overnight Trips with your horse.

Make reservations as far ahead as you can, but often in the late fall there are openings for spontaneous trips.  Make sure you have all of the health papers you need ready specific to the facility.  You may need a current negative Coggins test, possibly a vaccination record and/or a health certificate within the last 30 days.  If travelling over 75 miles from home, you will need a brand inspection.   Some places require certified weed-free hay.

Beaver Meadows Resort, Red Feather Lakes, CO, beavermeadow.com, 970-881-2450

Beautiful common area with beaver ponds, general store and restaurant.  A great place for non-horse folks too!  Many, many well marked trails for different loop options every day.  Several small stream crossings.  Horses:  Pens at the horse stable area or large pens at campsites with nearby water.  People:  Many options including cabins, condos, hotel rooms and horse camp sites.  There are no hook ups at the horse camping area, but it is along a beautiful stream in a private setting.

Mill Creek Ranch (formally known as Old Cow Town Colorado), Saguache, CO, millcreekcolorado.com, 719-655-2224

No expense was spared designing and building this recently built cow town.  There is a restaurant, saloon, general store, museum, social club and more.  Bring more that your horse friends and family, there is something here for everyone.  Surrounded by National Forest, there are many trail riding options to explore like Hoaglund Mountain and the Hodding Creek Area.  Horses:  Very nice stall barn to outdoor pens.  People: Many options of cabins, the Social Club or a nice RV area near the barn and pens with hookups.

Homestead Meadows from Hermit Park Campground, Estes Park, CO, 800-397-7795

Ride to Homestead Meadows from Campground.  The trail tours through a registered National Historic District.  The area was first settled in the 1800’s and the last resident in 1952.  Each homestead is labeled telling about each homesteader family.  Two days recommended to really explore.  Horses:  One or two pens per site, but keep in mind they are too small to really put two horses in one.  Nice pens with good ground and shade.  People:  Tent camping or living quarters trailers, but no hook ups. Restrooms available and water down near pavilion or entry.  Bring water for you and your horse.

Indian Creek Campground, Sedalia, CO, fs.usda.gov/activity/psicc/recreation/horseriding-camping, 877-444-6777

Several options for trailing riding in the area including the Indian Creek Equestrian Trail, a segment of the Colorado Trail, and the Ringtail Trail.  Horses:  Hitching posts, water spigots and pens at sites, some shaded.  People:  Nice campground with restrooms in the loop, picnic tables, fire pits and tent sites.  There are a couple sites that would work well for living quarters trailers, but there are no hook ups.

M Lazy C Ranch, Lake George, CO, mlazyc.com, 719-148-3398

Meals available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Some nights there is a chuckwagon dinner with hay rides, reservations required.  Surrounded by National Forest, there are many trails to explore.  On the 4WD roads you may encounter ATV’s that were always very respectful of the horses.  There are plenty of single track trails to explore with no ATV’s.  Beautiful open areas and distant mountain views.  You can camp here and trailer to Dome Rock as well.  Horses:  Two pens at each campsite and the ability to add more.  Some of the pens have roofs. Water at each site.  People:  There are some cabins and rooms available near the main area with pen options for horses as well as a round pen and outdoor arena.  Great camping area with different configurations.  Water, electric, fire pits and picnic tables at sites.  Also, a round pen and several trail obstacles in camping area.

Mill Creek Ranch (formally known as Old Cow Town Colorado), Saguache, CO, millcreekcolorado.com, 719-655-2224

No expense was spared designing and building this recently built cow town.  There is a restaurant, saloon, general store, museum, social club and more.  Bring more than your horse friends and family, there is something here for everyone.  Surrounded by National Forest, there are many trail riding options to explore like Hoaglund Mountain and the Hodding Creek Area.  Horses:  Very nice stall barn to outdoor pens.  People: Many options of cabins, the Social Club or a nice RV area near the barn and pens with hookups.

Mueller State Park, Teller County, CO, cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/Mueller/Pages/Activities.aspx, 800-678-2267

Extensive trails for riding, plus you can connect to the Dome Rock area with additional trails.  Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in this area as well.  There are a few areas where horses are not allowed which are marked.  Horses:  Stalls/pens available at the stable area.  There are only two horse camping spots with pens that are a little ways from the main area.  No hookups here.  People:  Lodging available at the main area or there are the two horse camping sites.

Oleo Ranch, Lake City, CO, oleoranch.com, 281-728-0267

10,500 feet elevation.  There is an old 1800’s stagecoach road bed, local trails and the Colorado Trail and Continental Trail both come through here.  Horses:  free horse corrals, water available.  People:  Seven different cabins to rent with refrigerators and hot water.  No internet or wifi.

Sun Canyon Ranch, Dove Creek, CO, suncanyonranch.com, 970-677-3377

Great riding from the ranch as well as fishing, nearby historic Indian Ruins, Cowboy Supper and Show, and more!  Horses:  Stalls, paddocks, panel pens, pasture and round pen.  People:  Beautiful lodge as well as 12 RV sites with water and electric and 5 tent sites.

Tutor Rose Bed & Breakfast, Salida, CO, thetudorrose.com, 800-379-0889

The Tutor Rose property adjoins BLM land through which you access the Lost Trail, to the new Little Rainbow Trail, to the Rainbow Trail.  Head north or south from here.  Beautiful trail along the east side of the Sangre De Cristo mountains.  Old roads, lakes, mines, and stream crossings over decent footing with some exposed roots and rocks.  Horses:  Various horse accommodations from stalls to paddocks.  People:  Main house with rooms as well as Chalets that sleep up to six.

The Wilderness Cabin, Gunnison County, CO, coloradowildernesscabin.com, 970-527-3010

Trails like Little Robinson Trail #850 and Kaufman Creek Trail #852 are highly rated for beauty and views.  There are some full day rides as well.  Horses:  Metal sectional pens that the owners will reconfigure for you with water near pens.  People:  Large, beautiful three-story lodge with a hot tub plus an additional cabin.

Winding River Resort, Grand Lake, CO, windingriverresort.com, 970-627-3215 or 303-623-1121

Trail ride into Rocky Mountain National Park and there is also forest service land that adjoins one side of the resort that ATV’s can access – bring ATV’s and horses to ride in different areas.  The check in for horses was a bit stringent.  We saw moose every day.  Recommended trails are the River Trail, Green Mountain Trailhead to the Big Meadows Loop, and Onahu Trail all in RMNP.  Pancake breakfast on Sundays.  We went to Grand Lake Lodge that was about 5 minutes away for breakfast one day and a couple dinners in Grand Lake at night.  Horses:  Nice panels pens which can be made larger or smaller with water close by.  We did not see any flies and noticed the wranglers using Fly Predators.  There is a general pen area if you are in a cabin or lodge or pens at your site if you are camping.  People:  Lodge rooms, separate cabins and many campsites available.

Are You A Horse Junkie?

Are you a Horse Junkie? Here’s the test to find out!

You might be a Horse Junkie if…

…all of your shoes have traces of manure on them.

…you walk behind your car and touch it so it knows you are there.

…you see a golf course and think about how great it would be to gallop across it.

…you know the towing capacity and wheel base of most trucks.

…you have a washer and dryer just for horse blankets and pads.

…your friends and family check the barn before the house to see if you are home.

…horse breath is your favorite smell.

…the majority of your shoes are for the barn.

…you have two piles of dirty clothes – still clean enough for the barn and definitely dirty.

…your Christmas and birthday lists are all horse related items.

…you know where you can park your truck and trailer at your errand stops in town.

…you say “whoa” to your dog instead of “stay”.

…you click to other people to get them to move along.

…if someone is going to the barn before you meet them, add 2 hours to the original time.

…you back a truck and trailer better than most truck drivers.

…your hair style is determined by how well it will fit underneath a helmet.

…when you cut your finger, you have to run out to the tack room because that’s where all your first aid supplies are located.

…you know not to wear fleece around your horse.

…you have nail polish to keep your Chicago screws from coming undone.

…you know what Chicago screws are.

…your work outs consist of riding, shoveling manure, stacking hay and hauling buckets of water.

…you spend all of your birthday and Christmas money on competition entry fees.

…you make your yearly calendar based upon your horse events.

…you can fit your truck and trailer through most fast food drive thru’s.

…you can fit a ride into a spare 45 minutes.

…you watch the zookeeper cleaning up after the Zebra’s and envy them.

…you don’t know that you smell like horse urine.

…you think that horse poop is not smelly and gross like other kinds of poop.

…you make a sweet feed cake with carrot candles and handpicked grass decorations for your horses birthday.

…hay can be found in your shirt.

…you go outside in the cold to put a blanket on your horse, but can’t be bothered to put a coat on yourself.

…you buy items for your horse without question. When you or your family needs something, you ask yourself , “do we really need that?”

…you have been to the vet with your horse at least twice this year, but you personally have not been in 5 years, unless it was to get a tetanus shot.

…you feed and care for your horse before yourself, in your pajamas.

…you go south for the winter, but must come home every two weeks to see your horse.

…or – you go south for the winter so you can ride your horse!

…you would rather watch your horse graze than watch TV.

…you have major medical for your horse, but no health insurance for yourself.

…you are an expert at working with hat hair.

…you consider yourself a winner if you take home a ribbon at a competition and it cost you $240 to enter.

…hay is a daily hair accessory.

…your dog is a breed from the herding group.

…when driving down the freeway in your car, you shift your body weight and put on leg pressure anticipating a “shy” when passing a big noisy truck with a flapping tarp!

…you go on a non-horse vacation, and find the local tack store.

…you know exactly when your horse had their teeth done last, but can’t remember the last time you had yours done.

…you drive 4 hours for a one hour lesson.

…your yearly one week vacation is going to a clinic or competition with your horse.

…you spring out of bed at 4am for a horse competition, when you really just needed to get up at 5am, take a shower, pick up donuts, wash the truck, get gas, feed, clean stalls, drive to the show, get tacked up, braid if necessary, warm your horse up and are ready for your 8am class, but you are regularly late for work.

…you can fix anything with bailing twine or wire.

…your idea of buying new shoes involves meeting your farrier every 6-8 weeks.

…that said, you buy $200 shoes for your horse every 6-8 weeks, but struggle to buy yourself a pair once a year.

…your favorite free time is spending a long weekend in front of a horse trailer by a dusty arena.

…you think 101°F is a normal body temperature.

…instead of giving someone directions to turn “left” or “right,” you tell them to “gee” or “haw.”

…your favorite outfit is mostly leather and may include a whip and spurs.

…you cringe at paying six bucks for lunch, but won’t
blink at spending sixty on a riding lesson.

…you complain about being sore after a workout, but would
never complain about the pain from your lesson the previous day.

…any object is evaluated for how you might use it at the barn.

…when you go to the mall, you look for horse items in every store and usually buy them because they are “hard to find”.

…you love Ralph Lauren and Hermes because they have a horsey theme, not that you could ever afford them because you have horses.

…your home is covered in horse art, sculptures, knick-knacks, calendars and pictures of your loved ones riding horses.

…your phone ringtone, computer background and icons are horses.

…at any time in your life, you set up jumps in the backyard and had your dog jump the course.

…instead of skipping, you “canter”.

…you know more knots than most sailors.

…you know the first four generations of Native Dancer, King, Three Bars, Leo, Hickstead, and/or Furioso II, but you can’t remember your spouse’s age.

…you lean forward as your car goes over a speed bump.

…you and your horse both use Mane & Tail Shampoo and Conditioner.

…your tack room and barn are neat as a pin; not so much your house.

…your veterinarian is number one on your speed dial and your spouse is number two.

…you are still reading these and s-nickering to yourself.

-Heather McWilliams © 2017

Looking to Improve Your Horsemanship?

Aren’t we all?  As equestrians, we know the learning never ends.  I have a friend who just started taking riding lessons as an adult.  She is a voracious learner and is always striving to be her best in all realms.  I mentioned that I was going to take a lesson over the weekend and she questioned, “you still take lessons?  Haven’t you been riding most of your life?”  Of course I still take lessons and not enough!  Not that I am anywhere near the Olympic level, but yes, even Olympic equestrians take lessons, and a lot of them.  There is always room for improvement.  In contract to other sports, equestrians are working to partner with at 1000+ pound animal, the only domestic animal that could still survive in the wild, with its own thoughts and ideas.

One of my personal goals is to improve my riding and my level of horsemanship this year.  So far, I have been to a four-day clinic and two, two-day clinics.  They have improved my riding significantly and there is real value in the intensive attention and saddle time you and your horse receive at a clinic as well as what we learn from watching others with different horses.

If stepping up your horsemanship is one of your goals this year, here is the perfect opportunity!  Nationally known clinician Kip Fladland is coming to the Event Center at Jeffco Fairgrounds in Golden September 15-17th.  Last year, several area riders who have travelled in previous years to Kip’s home in Iowa for clinics, brought Kip to put on a clinic at a private venue in Conifer.   This year Andrew and I have picked up the reins, so to speak, to bring Kip back again.

Born and raised in Montana, for the last 30 years Kip has devoted his life to working with and riding horses on several large Montana ranches as well as at his place in Iowa.  While working in Montana, Kip met Buck Brannaman and attended several of his clinics.  Buck asked Kip to join him on the road as a clinician, which Kip did for 5 years.

Following his time with Buck on the road, Kip was eager to use the skills he had learned to work with starting colts under saddle as well as problem horses.  He works with all breeds including quarter horses, thoroughbreds, warmbloods, gaited breeds and mules.  These horses go on to compete in dressage, hunter/jumpers, three day eventing, reining, cow horse, cutting and of course as working ranch horses and trail horses.

In his 15 years of teaching clinics, Kip has found great satisfaction in facilitating people to communicate better, have fun and enjoy their horses more, no matter the discipline.  Across the country, Kip has found that the issue that riders struggle with the most is lateral bend according to their horse’s feet.

Kips wife Missy is a dressage trainer who also seeks to emulate the horsemanship masters such as Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance and Buck Brannaman.   Missy has several regional and national titles in addition to earning her USDF Bronze and Silver medals on horses that she has trained and brought up the levels on her own.

Two, three day classes will be offered September 15-17.  You can do one class or both.  Registration is now open and ends on September 1st.  Lunch will be served and auditors are welcome!

  1. Groundwork will be from 9am-12pm all three mornings. This class focuses on groundwork exercises and ends with time in the saddle.
  2. Horsemanship 1 will be from 130-430pm all three afternoons. This is the perfect class for all levels of horses, riders and disciplines.

Think you are too green or maybe too advanced?  Not true!  No matter your level or your horse’s, the format and foundational principles embedded in this clinic will improve your horsemanship and communication with your horse.  Don’t miss this chance to advance your skills!

Read these reviews from other Kip clinic participants:

Kip Fladland’s teaching style for both the horse and human has brought me greater insight in to offering a feel to my horses.  Kip’s direction to riders both in the ground work and under saddle, supports and helps the horse clearly comprehend what is being asked of them.  His positive encouraging style of communication keeps me searching for a more refined connection with my horses.  His willingness to adjust an explanation, or explain a feel offered to a horse by the rider is insightful and has helped me understand better what a horse needs weather it’s a dressage maneuver, jumping a fence, gathering cattle in open country, or roping calves, this information they offer to teach will bring your horse to a place where they try to connect with you. Kip’s lessons will inspire you to find a deeper understanding of your horse no matter what your level as a rider or discipline of horsemanship.  Katie, Illinois

I really enjoyed and learned so much riding in Kip’s clinic!  He’s a fantastic horseman, perfect gentleman, gives individual attention, has a great sense of humor and makes learning fun.  The creative exercises that he taught were very helpful and made me think “outside the box”. Participating in his clinic improved my horsemanship. He’s the “real deal”, never boring, and always looking out for the horse’s best interests.  I’m looking forward to riding in his September clinic.  Liz Olde, Colorado

Kip is a great instructor and is able to explain things in a clear, concise, and constructive way. I wouldn’t miss a chance to ride with him!  Kelly, Colorado

I have been privileged to participate in two Kip Fladland clinics, both with and without cattle, and I have returned home chock full of new exercises and ideas for my horse time. Kip is well-educated, yet easy to understand, and is able to teach to young and old, beginner as well as advanced. My 10-year-old daughter rode with him this year as a birthday gift, and was so proud that he didn’t talk down to her!  He’s got a great sense of humor and has seen and done it all as it pertains to the horse world, but he also takes the time to get to know both you and your horse during the time you spend with him, both in and out of the saddle. Kip is a gift, and is only a stranger the first time you meet him, so prepare to gain a wax mustache, real deal cowboy friend when you ride with him!  Courtney, Colorado

Spots are limited!  Call today with any questions and to reserve your spot!  Stalls & RV hookups available with reservations at Jeffco Fairgrounds in Golden, CO 303-271-6600. Hotels and restaurants within 5 minutes of venue. See lariataranch.com for more information on Kip. Enter both classes or just one. $450/class, $150 non-refundable deposit to reserve your spot. Auditors $25.  Organizers:  Heather & Andrew McWilliams 303-638-0994.

EquiGrace – Mountain Area Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies

“The magic that happens between the horse and equestrian is just that, magic. Our job is simply to allow that to happen in a safe and nurturing environment.” Cindi Winner, EquiGrace, Inc. Founder.

Horse people joke that their horse is their therapist, their therapist lives in a barn, or they pay their therapist in hay and grain.  Whether we realize it or not, there is real truth in those statements supported by documented studies that show the infinite benefits that humans receive by being around horses.

Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT), are used to treat patients challenged with everything from cerebral palsy and autism, to drug and alcohol dependency and post-traumatic stress syndrome.  The benefits range from learning non-verbal communication, relaxation, mental awareness, physical therapy through the movement and rhythm of horses to leadership training and team building.  Studies show that people working with horses experience decreased blood pressure, lower stress levels and reduced feelings of tension, anxiety and anger. In addition, studies show you gain feelings of self-esteem, empowerment, patience and trust.

EquiGrace, Inc, is a relatively new Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies facility in our area.  Not far from the town of Bailey, EquiGrace is working to get the word out to the special needs community as well as those that would benefit from their Hero’s Program for veterans, police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel, that they have openings for new students and clients.Cindi, Annie and Mack

Twenty-five-year-old Mack Port of Grant, Colorado is a current student at EquiGrace who started Hippotherapy as a child.  Hippotherapy is defined as the use of horseback riding as a therapeutic or rehabilitative treatment, especially as a means of improving coordination, balance, and strength.  His mom Sandee could see the benefits that Mack received from Hippotherapy to help with his Cerebral Palsy, but unfortunately the drive to the closest facility in Boulder took away from the benefits.

Originally from Philadelphia and South Jersey, EquiGrace’s Founder Cindi Winner, spent the majority of her life doing horse related activities, including showing in English and Western disciplines as well as driving carriages.  While horses are a significant part of her life, Cindi realized her first love was teaching.  She combined horses and teaching in 2003 when she became a PATH International Certified Instructor (pathintl.org).  In 2004 she founded a NARHA center in New Jersey called GRACE Therapeutic Riding Center and discovered the amazing gifts that horses can give to their students.  After moving to Colorado, Cindi started teaching EAAT at a facility in Salida.

Mack and his family first met Cindi when she was an aid for Mack in High School.  Mack started EAAT with Cindi in Salida and now have a much shorter drive since Cindi moved to Whispering Pines Ranch near the town of Bailey.  Sandee was thrilled to be able to start bringing Mack to Equine Assisted Activities and Therapy again.  Being with the horses is the highlight of his week, plus they have found a  close-knit community to be a part of.

Mack is currently working with Hawk, a Quarter Horse gelding in his mid-20’s.  Mack grooms Hawk as well as guides him from his wheelchair through a continually engaging course in the arena.  His goal for this year is to be able to get back to riding by the fall.  Mack’s family is donating the ramp that is needed to facilitate getting the wheelchair into the correct position for Mack to get in the saddle.

Following Mack’s work with Hawk, he is physically loose and mentally happy.  For riding, Mack will start working with Annie, a Percheron cross in her late teens who both rides and drives.

Sandee has learned that Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies takes a special teacher to understand the horses, be a gifted teacher and tie all of that into a fun, engaging and safe environment.  She states that there is a significant “symbiotic relationship between Cindi and her horse, and Cindi and her client.”

Could you or someone you know benefit physically and/or mentally from Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies?  Visit EquiGrace.com to read more about their programs as well as biographies on the horses and humans.  Learn about opportunities to volunteer, donate or even buy any of the horse’s dinner!

Call 303-838-7122 or email [email protected] to learn more.  EquiGrace, Inc. is located at 6936 County Road 68 in Bailey, Colorado.  Mailing address:  PO Box 268, Shawnee, CO  80475.  Heather McWilliams © 2017

I Saw A Child by John Anthony Davies

I saw a child, who couldn’t walk, sit on a horse, laugh and talk.
Then ride it through a field of daisies and yet he could not walk unaided.
I saw a child, no legs below, sit on a horse and make it go.
Through woods of green and places he had never been; to sit and stare, except from a chair.
I saw a child who could only crawl mount a horse and sit up tall.
Put it through degrees of paces and laugh at the wonder in our faces.
I saw a child born into strife, take up and hold the reins of life.
And that same child was heard to say,
Thank you God for showing me the way…