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Horse Calendar for 2017 

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Buffalo Bill Saddle Club – Trail Riding, horse camping and Gymkhana

Trail riding and horse camping group. BBSCGolden.org for extensive calendar and club information.

May 13 – Breakfast Ride, Bear Creek Lake Park

June 10 – Gymkhana open to public and all ages – especially 4-H!  Registration 8am, start 9am. Lunch Included.  See website for forms.  Indiana Equestrian Center 7500 Indiana St, Arvada, CO, Contact John Lind 303-931-0132.

 

Centaur Rising – Horse Camps & Shows

Anchorage Farm, 12889 S. Parker Ave. Pine, CO.  www.CentaurRising.org. [email protected] 303-838-5086.

July 16 – Centaur Rising Dressage Show I

August 13 – Centaur Rising Dressage Show II

See website for remaining spots for:

Basic Horse Camp

Little Kids Camp

Intensive Horse Camp

Advanced Horse Camp

 

Colorado Horsecare Foodbank – FUNdraisers!

See website for dates and to sign up online. www.horsefoodbank.org.  303-670-1470.

Flowers for Food – latest on website

Black Tie and Silver Shoes – latest on website

September 16 – Hay Bales & Horse Tails – Amazing evening of food, fun and shopping for horse stuff!  At the Colorado Horse Park in the Banquet Hall.  Sign up now, event sells out!

 

Double Header Performance Horses – Summer Camps

http://www.dhphorses.com/summer-camps.  Cross Horns Ranch, Evergreen. [email protected] or 303-918-6367.

June 5-9  Young Riders Camp

June 12-15, 17 Rodeo and Parade Camp

June 26-30  Horse Show Camp

July 7-14 Introduction to Horses camp

July 24-28  Gymkhana Camp

August 7-11 Back to School Camp

 

Evergreen Ranch Sorters Association

Reffel’s Arena, Wandcrest Drive, Pine Junction.  Varies Saturdays or Sundays, 10am-2pm.  For full schedule and more information, go to:  the Facebook page at “Evergreen Ranch Sorting Association”.

ERSA is a non-profit organization that was created in 2010 for the expressed purpose of perpetuating the Western Way of Lifestyle by utilizing our equine partners to learn, practice & compete in the sport of cattle sorting.  While there is an international sanctioned organization (Ranch Sorting National Championships – RSNC), ERSA is not affiliated with the RSNC in any way; though many of the ERSA members also compete in official RSNC events.  There are about 40 members plus guests that meet once each week at J R Heart Cattle Co., LLC near Pine Junction, Colorado in order to participate in team/ranch sorting.  There are about 18 event days each year starting about the first of June and ending about the first of October each year.  In addition, there are a couple of social events each year along with a “members only” Buckle Sort to establish bragging rights for each year.

 

Evergreen Rodeo Association – Rodeo Weekend!

RODEO WEEKEND!  EvergreenRodeo.com for full schedule. Volunteers still needed!  Contact Marty Unger – [email protected]

June 17 Saturday – 7-10am Pancake Breakfast, 10am Rodeo Parade in downtown Evergreen

June 17 Saturday – Rodeo Performance at El Pinal Rodeo Grounds 5 pm, Mutton Bustin’ and Pre-Show starting at 330pm.

June 18 Sunday – Rodeo Performance at El Pinal Rodeo Grounds 2 pm, Mutton Bustin’ and Pre-Show starting at 1230pm.

 

Heritage Ride – Support the Horse Trail Ride

June 11 – 9am.  Hosted by the Colorado Horse Council.  Trailer parking and start at Evergreen Rodeo Grounds.  Ride to Elk Meadow Open Space Park.

 

Intermountain Horse Association – Poker Ride

intermountainhorse.org or Facebook page “Intermountain Horse”

September 9 – Poker Ride at Alderfer Three Sisters Park.

Monthly meetings 3rd Tuesdays September – May at Beau Jos in Evergreen.  Various horse related topics.

 

Jefferson County 4-H Open Horse Shows

English, Western, Showmanship and Gymkhana classes.  More information, contact info and show bills at: http://www.extension.colostate.edu/jefferson/4h/4h.shtml.  Extension Office for information at 303-271-6620.

 

May 21 – Hairy Horse Show – Event Center, Jefferson County Fairgrounds

June 4 – Pleasant Park Gymkhana – McKeever Arena (Conifer)

July 8 &9 – Pleasant Park Horse Show – McKeever Arena (Conifer)

July 16 – Golden Spurs Horse Show – Jeffco Event Center Arena (Fairgrounds)

July 22 – Horse Council Fair Clinic – Table View Arena

August 6 – Pleasant Park Gymkhana – McKeever Arena (Conifer)

August 10 & 11 – Jeffco Fair & Festival 4-H Horse Show, Jefferson County Fairgrounds

August 24-27 – State Fair – Pueblo

September 9 – Equine Event – Rodeo Arena

September 23 – 4-H Fun Show/Clinic – Table View Arena

 

Kip Fladland Clinic – All Disciplines/Rider Levels Welcome

Kip’s website:  LaRiataRanch.com.  Jefferson County Fairgrounds Event Center in Golden.  Hosted by Andrew & Heather McWilliams.  Call Heather for more information 303-638-0994.  

September 15-17:  Sign up for both classes or one.  $450/3 day class, $150 deposit/3 day class.

3 day Ground Work Class – mornings & 3 day Horsemanship Class – afternoons.

Kip has over 30 years horse experience.  Buck Brannaman invited Kip to tour with him exclusively for 5 years.  Soft feel, better communication with your horse.  Problem horses, English or western welcome. Kip’s wife Missy is a Dressage trainer and last year he rode their Dutch Warmblood, Ali in the clinic. Two classes include 1. GW – Groundwork (addresses doing ground work exercises before riding toward the end of each class) in the morning class and 2. H1-Horsemanship Class (a riding class for all levels and disciplines of horses) in afternoon.  Stalls, RV hookups available with reservations at fairgrounds 303-271-6600. Hotels and restaurants within 5 minutes of venue. Spaces are filling up, call today to sign up!

 

KZ Ranch in Bailey Summer Gymkhana Series

Find on Facebook or 720-243-4186.

May 20, June 10, June 24, July 8, July 29, August 12 – Awards September 9th.

 

 

Starry Night Ranch – New Mexico Horse Camps

jubileehorse.com.  Llaves, New Mexico.  [email protected] 575-638-5661           
Syzygy Coaching with Horses

Evergreen, Colorado.  syzygy-co.com.   [email protected] 303-670-7244.

May 22, 23 and 24: Brave: Awakening Your Voice, Impact and Wild Success – Golden, CO

June 2-3, 2017: Equine Vision Journey Retreat

September 15-16, 2017: Equine Vision Journey Retreat

Sept 19, 2017: Extraordinary Women Connect Gala – Denver, CO

November 2, 2017: Extraordinary Women Ignite 2018

December 13, 2017: Ignite Your Business for an Epic 2018

 

Working Equitation Events

Join on Facebook at “Foothills CO Working Equitation” or contact for more information Christina Turissini, [email protected]

May 12 – Clinic with Allison Mazurkiewicz, contact Christina for information

Playdates during the month at various locations.

Time for Trail Riding!

“No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.”  Winston Churchill

As mountain residents, we enjoy some of the most beautiful trails in the nation to ride our horses on.  Not just a few, but several right in our backyards, not to mention the amazing places all over our state.  Riders down the hill go to a lot of effort just to come to our local trails.  While many local horse people are very comfortable riding local trails, others may need people to ride with or the fear of the unknown keeps them from venturing out.  Some friends moving here from the west coast noted that in California, horse riders are more concentrated into communities, but here we are spread out and it can be difficult to connect.

Margi Evans, author of Riding Colorado I, II & III spoke at the March Intermountain Horse Association meeting.  Not only is she a lovely person, she is a trail blazing dynamo with her large Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods that she also shows in 4th level Dressage.  Trail riders come from all disciplines and use trail riding as a break from the arena or a horses usual job.  Of course it is also a great way to socialize, enjoy riding and Colorado with friends and family.

As trail riders, we hold quite a bit of responsibility in our hands.  Our most important job (other than staying alive) is as horse riding ambassadors to keep the trails and parking lots accessible to our horses and rigs.  It is no secret that the majority of the local trail users are bikers and hikers.  We are the minority, but pedestrians and bikers must yield to us, because plainly, we could be killed if something goes awry.  Hold that privilege and responsibility with appreciation and respect.

Be kind, be aware of your surroundings.  Most bikers and hikers encountered are aware of our frailty and predicament.  As prey animals, horses get a little nervous when encountering fast moving people on wheels and people hiding in bushes ready to pounce on them, not to mention the dog that has been waiting for the chance for a good sniff of a horse.  The majority pull off the trail, stand in a conspicuous place and talk to the horses.  Avoid being rude or bossy.  We need to get along with our fellow trail users.  Start a pleasant conversation with them to get them talking.  Let them know that your horse needs to see and hear them.

Be proactive and aware of your surroundings.  If possible, put the more trail savvy horses at the front and back of your party.  That way if a bike comes up quickly, the horse is less likely to fear it is a mountain lion.  Of course, stay on the trail (unless muddy) and walk while passing other trail users.  If you are on a young horse or one with little trail experience, keep your eyes open and as soon as you see a bike or person, talk to your horse and the person.  If the trail allows, turn your horse toward the person/bike as soon as you notice them so your horse can get a good look at them.  If possible, pony young horses initially off of more experienced horses to get them used to the trails and other users.

Venturing first on more open trails is wise.  Open trails give your horse a chance to see someone coming from a distance.  You can step off the trail and let your horse see the bike coming.  Some open trails under an hour from our area are Bear Creek Lake Park, Chatfield Park, parts of Elk Meadow and Mount Falcon.

Take care of each other and ride to the level of the least experienced horse or rider in your party.  If you want to go on a fitness ride, go out with others with the same goal.  If you are meeting various friends and friends of friends, consider it more social and be flexible.  Although in our mountains, no matter the speed, you and your horse will get a work out.    Get a feel for the other riders and their horses.  If you think you might want to trot, ask everyone in the party if they would be comfortable first.  Then, let them know when you are transitioning back to a walk.  A big no-no in trail riding is to take off at a canter/gallop without warning.  This is very unkind to your fellow riders.  Many a person has been bucked off or taken off with because of such idiocy.

Some of our best local horse trails include Alderfer Three Sisters, Kenosha Pass, Pine Valley Ranch, Elk Meadow Park, Flying J, Beaver Brook Watershed, Mount Evans Wilderness, Gashouse Gulch, Little Scraggy Peak and Miller Gulch.  I recommend going early or later in the day, even after dinner is a great time during our long daylight hours in the summer.  In addition, weekdays can be wonderfully quiet at local parks.

To meet more horse people to ride with, become a member of local groups like Intermountain Horse Association, Jefferson County Horse Council and the Buffalo Bill Saddle Club that has recently been reformed.  Riding horses is one of the most natural ways to experience the beauty and peacefulness of the mountains.  Wildlife are more comfortable with our horses than people on their own and horses can take us places we would struggle to go without them.  Stay safe and enjoy your summer riding around our beautiful state with your horses and friends!

Resources:

Margi Evans’ Riding Colorado I – II and III books are a must have for Colorado trail riders.

ridingcolorado.equineexplorer.com

mtnhomes4horses.com/category/trail_guide

jeffco.us/open-space/parks/

horsechannel.com/horse-news/2013/09/13-trail-etiquette.aspx

Heather McWilliams © 2017

“Pretty is as pretty does” – Adventures in Horse Buying

Until the last 6 months, I have only bought three horses in my life and one more with my husband Andrew.  Seven total if you add the time we went to the ranch I bought Summer from in South Dakota and came back with a weanling Quarter Horse and two weanling Miniature Horses.  My first horse Saint was an 8-month-old Andalusian Morgan cross from a private owner.  Summer I bought off the SD ranch I worked on in the 1990’s, Josey at a yearly local QH breeder sale.  All of them except one were two and under and all of the South Dakotan’s were “killer price”.  Not because they were destined for the slaughterhouse, but that was just the rancher’s way of giving us a deal.  No Pre-Purchase Exams and somewhat of a risk as youngsters.  My last riding horse was a homebred, Summer’s daughter Ruby.  Ruby was a great riding horse, but not a safe family horse to have out in the yard.

In September, we found a wonderful new home for Ruby which seems to be the perfect fit for her and her new owner.  Of course I couldn’t be horseless for long.  For weeks I browsed through the outlets of DreamHorse.com and some of the Facebook horse groups.  What did I really want?  I am not getting any younger and this could possibly be my last horse.  Choosing a breed and a discipline is a struggle for me.  In another life, as the Toby Keith song goes, “I should have been a cowboy, I should have learned to rope and ride, wearing my six shooter, riding my pony on a cattle drive…”  No matter what breed I have had, I have enjoyed taking my horses into western and English disciplines like Versatility Ranch Horse and Eventing.  None of us like to be defined or put limits upon, right!?  Whatever breed I chose, I would still be a cowgirl!

Last September, Clinician Kip Fladland came to Conifer to teach a horsemanship clinic that I had planned to ride in, but I had sold Ruby just before it.  Kip’s wife Missy is a Dressage trainer and he rides and teaches the Ray Hunt methods honed through Buck Brannaman (Buck asked Kip to join him on the road for 5 years and Kip continues to assist Buck at times).  While Kip is a Montana cowboy through and through, he was riding Ali, their lovely Dutch Warmblood mare.  Kip was my kind of guy.  (By the way, we are hosting a clinic September 15-17 at the Jeffco Fairgrounds with Kip and would love for you to join, just email me for details.  All disciplines and levels of riders are welcome and guaranteed to learn and have a great time – There’s the plug!)

What was my dream horse?  A great brain and disposition was the number one priority to have around my boys.  Then soundness and versatility.  Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds will always have a spot in my heart, but Irish Sport Horses have been on my radar since my time in Ireland. Plus, in the past few years, I have enjoyed the people and the challenge of Eventing and what the heck, what better horse to Event on than a ISH.  The intelligence, stamina and loyalty of the Thoroughbred plus the sensibility, heartiness and amazing jumping ability of the Irish Draught, in one package.  Also, sometimes pricy and hard to find.

Thanks to a local friend, not as hard as I thought!  We arid climate people need to remember that in climates with prolific grass, horses are more plentiful and can less expensive.  The simple economics of supply and demand.  My friend Barb had just found a ISH in Illinois that was sound, reasonable and awesome.  Turns out, several local people bred to his ISH sire who Southern Illinois University stood through their Equine Science program.  Barb made some calls and found Molly, a 3-year-old filly by the same sire that was going to go up for sale.

But, Illinois?  Do I fly, do I drive?  I have been to Holland horse shopping with friends, but this was not my own usual territory.  I started the process of finding something wrong with her to save my self the trip.  I had a friend that lived in the area go by to see her, check.  I found a veterinarian to make sure she didn’t have things that were deal killer for me as well as a PPE, check.  I found another veterinarian that could do digital X-Rays, check.  Time to get on a plane.  Rode her, loved her, great personality, great brain, check.  Why didn’t I bring the trailer?  I found a ride back to Colorado for her a couple weeks later.

All this to say, learn from my experience of buying a horse from afar and here is what I would do differently the next time, if there were one.  I would still have had my friend go by to see her and look for my deal killers.  Then I would have made a PPE appointment at the closest large equine clinic with a great reputation, driven out to Illinois with my trailer, seen Molly in person, tried her out and then kept my appointment at the clinic and if all went well, headed home horse rich and cash poor!

Molly has held true to all that I had hoped for in my new four-legged best friend.  With the great weather late last year after she arrived, the three year old with 3 months of light riding under her saddle took easily to riding trails alone and with friends, Spring Gulch Equestrian Park (one of my favorites), and various arenas around town.  A pretty girl, doing pretty things.  Here’s to a year full of riding in 2017!  Heather McWilliams © 2017

Rocky Mountain Horse Expo March 10-12, 2017

It is that time of year again for the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo to take over the National Western Complex in Denver.  This is the time for all those from Montana to Texas, who want to live and breathe all things horse to come together.  Several of our local mountain area horse trainers and business people will be putting on clinics, participating in challenges and hanging out at their booths to chat with passersby.

What better time of year for those of us horse folks who are just catching the hints of spring all around in melting snow, mud and shedding horses.  Our plans for our Colorado summers are filling our heads with activities like horse shows, trail riding, horse trips with friends, sorting, roping, rodeos, endurance rides, clinics and more.  We are setting goals for number of rides, rodeos, shows or clinics.  Maybe to try a new discipline out like Working Equitation, Western Dressage/Cowboy Dressage or Ranch Sorting; experience some of our amazing local parks; or just improve our riding and communication with our equine partners.  Maybe none of that sparks your interest, but most (if not all) of you just like to be around anything horse related and window shop.

With just the price of admission, you have free rein to walk around the Hall of Education, Stadium Arena and Events Center Arena, Barn and Paddock.  You will find vendors, competitions, and clinics going on simultaneously for you do drop in on.  The list of clinicians and speakers includes:  Russell Beatty, Mike Brashear, Sharon Bringleson, Dawn Brunetti, Francis Carbonnel, Nicole Collins, Dan Craig, Justin Dunn, Kris Garrett, Dr. Regan Golob, Julie Goodnight, Cody Harrison, Dennis Kuehl, Mike Kurtz, Cindy Loader, Cal Middleton, Ashara Morris, Jason Patrick, Melisa Pierce, Steuart Pittman, Jo Rench, Lyn Ringrose, Richard Shrake, Travis Smith, Cliff Swanson, Benjiumen Denney, Anna Twinney, Terry Wagner, Carol Walker, Tarrin Warren, Brent Winston and the Side Saddle Sisters of Oklahoma.   If you can’t wait until Thursday, Pre-Clinics start on Wednesday and Thursday.

The 20,000+ people that attend every year will find 250-300 Tradeshow Exhibitors and events like The Comeback Challenge and A Home for Every Horse Auction, Colorado’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred by Retired Racehorse Project, Mounted Shooting, Select Horse Sale, Ride with the Experts, Agri-Business Fair, Stick Horse Arena, Mini Horse Fair, Craft Fair, Horseman’s College, Mustang Days – Extreme Race, Equine Experience, Colt Starting Challenge coltstartingchallengeusa.com, Working Equitation Show, Cowboy Dressage Show, Miss Rodeo Colorado Horsemanship Clinic and Art in the Park Show and Sale.

There are ticketed events like The Mane Event on Friday and Saturday night, showcasing all shapes and sizes of horses doing their thing from Dressage, Team Penning, Driving, Reining, to Vaulting and more.  A great event to bring your non-horse friends and family to.

Looking for a horse to be your new best friend?  The Select Horse Sale is put on by Harley D. Troyer Auctions and is full of riding horses of all sizes.  There is a preview Friday night from 5-7pm and the sale is Saturday For the full catalog go to www.TroyerAuctions.com.

Ride with the Experts is in its 8th year and is an inexpensive way to ride with some of the best clinicians available.  Go to http://www.coloradohorsecouncil.com/rmhe and fill out the participant contract along with your top three clinician preferences by March 6th.

The Scouting and Youth Program is offering the ability for kids and Scouts to earn their “Crazy ‘Bout Horses Patch” or their Horseback Riding Badge.  This is offered on Friday 1-4pm, Saturday 9am-3:30pm and Sunday from 9-11:30am.  For $40 the program covers horse safety, behavior, tack & equipment, veterinary care, horse breeds, grooming and riding

Admission Costs – available for purchase online:

3-Day Grounds badge – $25 (5 and under are free)
Adult 1-Day Grounds pass – $10 (5 and under are free)
Student/Senior 1-Day Grounds pass – $8 (5 and under are free)
Children age 5 and under – FREE
Family Pack of 1-Day Grounds passes – $40 – includes 5 tickets, one person must be an adult (5 and under are free)

Special Youth Coupon – $2 off   FFA, 4H Clubs, Little Britches, High School Rodeo, etc. (redeemable at National Western Ticket Office ONLY) 

Mane Event Passes (for Fri. or Sat. at 7:00 PM)
Admission – $10 - all ages
Family Pack of Mane Event Admissions – $40 (Includes 5 tickets for all ages, one person must be an adult. All 5 tickets must be used on the same night.)

Combination Passes
1-Day Grounds pass and 1-Mane Event pass- $15 - all ages
Family Pack of 1-Day Grounds passes and 1-Mane Event passes – $65 (Includes 5 grounds tickets and 5 Mane Event tickets for all ages. All 5 tickets must be used on same day/night.)

For the full schedule, go to:  http://www.coloradohorsecouncil.com/rmhe.  We hope to see you at the 2017 Rock Mountain Horse Expo!  Heather McWilliams © 2017.

Cowboy Pursuit – Cole Piotrowski

“Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.” – Ralph Waldo EmersonFullSizeRender (21)

At 7 years old, local resident Cole Piotrowski asked his parents if he could learn to ride a horse.  After searching the internet, they found Fiona Laing at Skye Stables in Evergreen.  An accomplished horsewoman and a student of well-known trainer Chris Cox and his methods.  Cole began learning the fundamentals through weekly lessons on Fiona’s black and white paint, Ace.  Knowing that horses are much more than just riding, Fiona taught and exposed Cole to all aspects of horse ownership.  The spark of interest Cole had in horses soon turned into a full-blown fire and he was asking to do any chores that needed to be done at Skye Stables including feeding, cleaning stalls and unloading semi loads of hay in order to be immersed in this new life he found.

Cole continued to become a better rider and horseman.  Fiona has a gift of looking past her students fears and worries and challenges them to become better partners with their horses.  Cole’s confidence continued to grow and his family decided it was time for Cole to have a horse of his own.  Fiona helped Cole’s parents find a 5 year old gray gelding named Blu and they gave him to Cole for his 10th birthday.

From the beginning, Cole was drawn to all things “cowboy”.  He didn’t miss the Evergreen Rodeo or National Western Stock Show.  He couldn’t watch the ropers and riders enough as he carefully studied their every more.  When Cole was 12, he had the opportunity to attend a roping clinic with Krece Harris.  Krece took him way out of his comfort zone by having him ride new horses and team rope steers. Krece told him that roping is “80% horsemanship and 20% roping skill” and because Cole had put so much work into his horsemanship and so much ground work into practicing roping, he would be an excellent team roper! The clinic with Krece was a defining moment for Cole and his dedication and focus intensified.

Around the same time, Cole started Ranch Sorting with ERSA (Evergreen Ranch Sorting Association) in Pine.  Cole quickly picked up the skills necessary to move the cattle between pens in this competitive and timed sport.  However, Blu was not quite as interested in Ranch Sorting.  Blu was a steady, strong, and reliable partner when Cole visited the working ranches of friends. He would drag calves to the fire for branding, go on long drives, and work his heart out all day for his boy. But Blu did not possess the athleticism needed in the sorting ring.

Cole had a strong interest in ranch sorting, but needed to find the right horse for the sport.  His family decided to contact Chris Cox, to see if they could find the right horse through someone they trusted.  While Chris does not usually sell horses as part of his training business, he invited Cole to Texas to try out several horses that might be a good fit for him.  Cole immediately took to a 4-year-old bay gelding named Scooter and they have been an amazing team in the sorting pen ever since.

IMG_5054Cole and Scooter have competed in the Colorado state finals 3 times; finishing his first year as the Youth champion, second year 3rd in the Rookie Division and in December 2016 they finished 3rd in Colorado in the Novice Division and 2nd in Wyoming. He has competed in Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. Additionally, he and Scooter qualified first in Cole’s division the past two years for the World Finals held in Texas.

While Cole loves competing, he is most passionate about his horsemanship. Now 15, he rides and practices every day to increase his skill set. He has been attending Chris Cox Horsemanship Clinics for the past two years and will complete his Level 5 horsemanship this year. As Cole has heard Chris Cox tell his students, no matter who you are or how long you have been working with horses, they have something new to teach us everyday – Cole looks for and seeks those opportunities to learn. Chris went on to tell one class, “This will not be the last you hear the name Cole Piotrowski. I am sure he will make a career with horses and will go on to do many great things.”FullSizeRender (22)

Cole is already training horses and helping others to improve their horsemanship. He purchased three ponies to train in 2015, and has sold one finished pony to a delighted 5 year old girl who loves her calm and trusted new best friend. He also purchased a 2-year-old Palomino this past summer who is already showing promise under saddle to be great athlete in the sorting ring one day.

While horses have brought Cole and his family on an amazing journey in the past 8 years, one of the best parts of the adventure has been the opportunity to be involved in the “cowboy lifestyle”.  Through traveling and competing, they have forged friendships that will last a lifetime.  People who share simple family values, generous and loving spirits, and a passion for horsemanship and competition. All because of a 7-year-old cowboy who wanted to learn to ride a horse.  Heather McWilliams © 2017.DAE94CFB-B55C-4C2B-A056-DE104A8AB6E7

You are never too many years!  2016 Local Century Club Members

We often define and put far too many limits on ourselves and those around us because of age.  Two of our local riders and an incredible horse named Sage have raised the bar and proved that attitude overrides age.

Sage is a 30 year old Saddlebred who was adopted by Centaur Rising at Anchorage Farm in Pine in 2013.  A home with Kris and Jim Cooper was a great fit.  Jim is constantly monitoring Sage’s condition and needs.  Sage needed an experienced horse home because of his special feed and care requirements in his maturity and wouldn’t we all!  Under their care and active riding program Sage has flourished.  When he arrived, the life was gone from his eye.  His initial gaits did really did not include a true trot or canter.   He had never learned to do circles and was very one sided to the right.  Then Leanne Tousey entered his life and helped him reach his riding potential.

Leanne, Kris and Sage

Leanne, Kris and Sage

Leanne, a mountain area resident, is a lifetime dog and horse lover.  Leanne grew up riding at summer camps, but despite her pestering, her parents would not buy her a horse.  She was married to her husband Mike in 1965 and they eventually moved their family from northern Iowa to southern California.  Riding horses was one of the sports that kept their kids busy.  Leanne’s daughter spent a significant amount of time training, showing and enjoying time at Cal Poly Pomona Arabian Farm.  Leanne’s dream was rekindled there to someday return to riding and more specifically to focus on dressage.

After thirty years of breeding and showing Miniature Schnauzers, culminating in handling a dog she bred to a Best in Show, Leanne decided it was time to follow her dream to return to riding.  In September of 2015 at the age of 72, Leanne found Kris Cooper, trainer and owner of Anchorage Farms.  Kris was happy to take on the challenges of an adult beginner and the rest is history.  Kris, a couple years younger than Leanne, understood the challenges and limits Leanne may have.  Kris describes Leanne as more agile than someone half her age and rides because she really enjoys it.

Kris credits Leanne with working with Sage to learn to leg yield, turn on the forehand, something he had never learned before and was quite resistant to in the beginning, and how to stop without being pulled on.  He even does shoulder-in!

This year, Kris and Sage worked together to earn their Century Club Membership through the Dressage Foundation (dressagefoundation.org).  The Century Club recognizes Dressage riders and horses whose combined age totals 100 years or more. Horse and rider perform a Dressage test at any level, at a Dressage show or event, and are scored by a Dressage judge or professional.  Then on August 14, 2016 Leanne and Sage earned their membership into the Century Club.  Congratulations to Kris, Leanne and Sage!

Kris has been one of the only and longest running lesson and camp programs in our mountain area.  They have 12 gentle horses that were used this year in their Little Kids Camps (5-7 year olds) and she can certainly teach the older generations.  She would like to start a program for older people who may not want to ride, but would enjoy grooming, cleaning tack and being around the horses.  For more information go to centaurrising.org.  Heather McWilliams © 2016

Conifer Stables Welcomes New Owners! 

Conifer Stables is open for boarding!  Dale and Kim Johnson have taken over the reins at Conifer Stables, 9229 County Road 73 in Conifer.

In 2013, Dale and Kim moved their family from the Western Slope to start a transport business in the Denver area.  Wanting to find that small town feel on this side of the divide with great schools, they found exactly what they were looking for in Conifer.

Initially, they started renting a home on Shadow Mountain.  When it was time to start looking for a place to buy they came across Conifer Stables.  When they first walked the property, they were struck by the potential and the chance to raise their kids in an agricultural environment.  The combination of the business and the horses were an ideal situation for them.

Dale grew up in Rifle and worked on some of the smaller ranches around Rifle and Silt.  Part of that work gave Dale the opportunity to spend time with horses, which grew into a passion for him.  In fact, in 2002 Dale and Kim were married on horseback.  Dale trained two horses from a ranch he worked on that were not started yet for them to use in the wedding.  They were married in a round pen with the guests on hay bales and the wedding party on horseback.

Kim, born and raised in Glenwood Springs, also has had a passion for horses and animals since she was young.  Her love for animals brought her to a veterinary clinic in high school where she volunteered and then ended up working at for four years after high school.

With a combination of good business sense and an innate sense of personal customer service, they are striving to have the best horse boarding business in the area, well known for its excellent care of the horses.  While the business side is the foundation, the care of the horses and their well-being is paramount to them.  They are there to care for the horse and their owner.

Dale and Kim are looking forward to meeting new people and becoming more ingrained in the local community.  They hope to connect and support the mountain community by offering their own time and talents.  They are exploring new ways to open up Conifer Stables by hosting clinics, 4-H groups and summer camps.

While offering an excellent place for people to board their horses, they also want their kids to grow up here, learning strong values and responsibility.  Their desire is for Conifer Stables to be a family run operation and to keep the family orientation in the business.   They have three children Jordan 21, Dakota 13 and Sierra 10.

Stop by to welcome Dale and Kim or contact them at 970-319-9813 Dale, 970-618-2739 Kim or [email protected]

Intermountain Horse Association 2016-2017

As we enter the fall, riding weather becomes cooler and the foliage more colorful.  While the cool weather certainly brings lovely riding weather, we all know that winter is not far in the distance.  Winter is beautiful in its own right and brings a season of new outdoor activities, although for some of us it is a forced break from any kind of significant horse activities.  Trails can be slippery, outdoor riding arenas are snowy and hard.  Not to mention, riding your horse to a certain level of activity while they have their “winter jacket” on is just not ideal.

Are you missing that connection to the outer horse world in the “off season”?  Want to use your sojourn for a productive use?  Intermountain Horse Association – IHA might be the answer.

Intermountain Horse Association has been going on for over a decade after the Denver Foothills portion of a “down the hill” group decided to bring a horse group closer to home.  Members from Bailey to Golden meet once a month, September through May to hear speakers on a variety of horse related topics.  All of the topics are directly applicable to horse owners and horse property owners in the mountain areas.  That said, we have a contingent of horse enthusiasts that do not own horses, but are looking for horse knowledge and fellowship with other horse people.

Meetings are held on the third Tuesdays of the month in the Downtown Evergreen Beau Jos from 7-8 pm.  Members often arrive around 6:30pm to socialize with other members in the horse community.  Beau Jos graciously offers the room free of charge and has wait staff ready for anyone who would like to enjoy dinner or beverages during the meeting.

Please join us on October 18th for our next meeting.  The special guest is Colorado Water Commissioner, Tim Buckley.  After his informative talk last year regarding legal use of water in Colorado, he was the number one requested speaker to return this year.  Whether you keep horses at your property or not, you do not want to miss Tim.  At the meeting we will also vote on the new board nominees for 2016-2017.

Some of the other meetings topics that will be returning this year are mountain pasture management, weed management and specific veterinary topics.  Members have asked that some of the new content be related to topics such as forest management related to horses and our area, trail safety, trail riding and horse camping.

The Intermountain Horse Association also hosts the IHA Poker Ride at Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space park the Saturday following Labor Day Weekend.  The Poker Ride is not only a way to get horse people together, but it helps to bring ambassadors for our trails to the local open space parks.  Riders have the opportunity to win cash for high and low poker hands while all proceeds go to local horse related non-profit groups such as Colorado Horsecare Foodbank (horsefoodbank.com) and HEAT – Horse Evacuation Assistance Team (jeffcoheat.org – supporting all large animals in case of natural disasters or other emergencies).

Meeting dates for the 2016-2017 season year will be as follows:  October 18, November 15, December 20 (Christmas Party!), January 17, February 21, March 21, April 18, May 16.  Please consider being a part of this important local horse group!

Email [email protected] to be added to the IHA email list.  IHA now is set up for membership at intermountainhorse.org, or just join us at an upcoming meeting.

Failure and Success in Competition

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;  who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Theodore Roosevelt

I did not grow up showing much, just a little during a couple summers on a friend’s horses that she wasn’t riding.  You could never paint us with any discipline brush because we entered as many classes as we could English or Western, including any sort of Gymkhana classes.  Then a little showing again in college on the equestrian team.  I don’t remember any great successes, but I really enjoy showing, similar to the way I enjoy horses.

I love every part of horses.  Hauling hay, cleaning stalls, their smell, the way they move and talk to each other, grooming, caring and riding them, just being a part of their world.  With showing, I love the show preparation of packing, laundering pads and show clothes, cleaning tack, bathing the horses, getting up super early and spending the entire day/s immersed in horse.

Looking back on the last six recent years that I have been showing (the mid part of my forties), I have learned many lessons about myself and my horses.  My horses seem to enjoy getting out and they are different at a show.  More engaged.  Sometimes the engagement comes out in underlying tension and nerves.  You learn your horses.  They many need less time to warm up or more time.  They may need time to just walk around and let it all soak in.  Shows are a great way to bond with your horse and rely on each other.   They learn to be around lots of other horses, cars, people, signs, loudspeakers.  They see new arenas, new scenery, new obstacles.

I learn the most about me.  Being the “doer of deeds” and at most shows my face is definitely “marred by dust, sweat and blood”.  There were times I did it for the color of the ribbon.    But just wait, partnering with a large animal with their own brain will fix your ego.  Then there is the liability of my brain.  Doing the wrong pattern, forgetting the rules, going off course, “because there is not effort without error and shortcoming.” I don’t take much for granted anymore.  The most important lesson I have learned is that it is never the horses fault.

Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat; it’s understanding the necessity of both; its engaging. It’s being all in.  Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

I want to be “all in” for my horses.  It is really all about them and they are without question a “worthy cause”.  We, horses and people, were created to partner.  We work with them to do what they were made to do in a certain sequence.  We add value to who they are in their life with people by exposing them to new environments and by partnering with them to reach their potential as well as ours.

Now I show partly because it gives me goals and a reason to, “actually strive to do the deeds.”  Life is busy and I have to have something I have invested in coming on the calendar to make me get out, ride and improve myself.  I owe it to the horses to continue to better myself through time riding, lessons and by showing to get evaluated on my progress and goals.  I want to ride at the best of my ability in order to show my horse to the best of their ability.  You will rarely be ready or prepared, but go anyway.  Show day is not a day to fix anything, don’t worry about the judge/s, do your best in that moment.  It’s is just a horse show, whatever happens, happens, I guarantee you will both learn, grow and many times surprise yourself.  Most importantly, HAVE FUN and make it a great experience for your horse.

“Competition does not have to be a horse show or a race against another horse.  Competition can be a set of standards by which we measure ourselves.  Your standards have great influence on your perceived results.  Choose them carefully.  It is not about the blue ribbon.  It is about evaluating the direction of our work and establishing deadlines for reaching goals… I will always compete, as I need to be challenged and held to an honest evaluation of my progress.  I don’t have to win the blue ribbon, but I need to know if I’m as good as I think I am.”  Trainers Aaron Ralston in “Ride Up:  Live your adventure.”  Co-written with Edgall Franklin Pyles.

Set goals, challenge, push and stretch yourself.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Don’t just do what’s necessary, do what’s possible.  Be relentless, because it is not how you start something, but how you continue.  Expect to fail.  Success does not come without failure.  Then accept your failures.  After all, we connect with each other through our flaws.     

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.  Martin Luther King Jr.

As we reach the end of the summer show season, I encourage riders to set some goals for next year, to find a couple shows or trail rides or team events to participate in.  If it seems too intimidating at first, start by volunteering.  There is a kind of horse sport, competition or group for everyone with any shape or size of horse that you will enjoy and meet new horse people along the way.  Encourage each other and the strangers you will meet along the way who will become your friends.  You will see new places and know victories “and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”.

Feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance in helping you find a challenge or to share your horse story.  [email protected] Heather McWilliams © 2016.

Trail Riding Competition with local David Richards

David and his wife Elizabeth live in the Hangen Ranch area and David is more familiar than most with the country around Alderfer Three Sisters, Elephant Butte and more as he keeps his horses fit for competition.  David moved to the US from the United Kingdom in the early 1980’s.   His love for the horse is apparent as you learn more about him and how he has been a continual student of the horse to give his own the best care possible.  In trail riding competition there is something for every level of rider and type of horse.  As with any sport, the higher level of competition, the more intricate the training, nutrition and fitness.  David started competitive trail riding as a novice just getting into horses and found his niche in this great sport.  In addition to the benefits of just being outside with your horse, is the gorgeous scenery to be found at the competitions.  Check out the websites for more information.  David is currently competing on “Chanz”, a 12-year-old Arabian from the Rush Creek Ranch in Nebraska, who bred and used Arabians for their ranch work.  Rush Creek Arabians are sought after endurance horses and have won many top competitions.  His former competition horse, Excepzional is an 18-year-old gray Polish Arabian. 

David and Excepzional in Moab

David and Excepzional in Moab

 

My wife, Elizabeth, and I moved to Colorado in 1996 for a better quality of outdoor living than was possible in NE Oklahoma. Also, having determined we needed a hub airport, four-year public university availability, and a high quality of life to be able to attract engineering talent to my company, we begun a location search. After considering the Chicago, Dallas, Salt Lake and Atlanta areas, we settled on Denver as our hub. Following an extensive tour of Front Range communities in Colorado, we finally arrived in Evergreen where it was evident that this was THE place to experience mountain living while enjoying easy access to the amenities of a major metropolitan area.

Around 2000, we decided that an ideal motivation to get out and explore Colorado, would be by owning horses of which neither of us had done before. For my wife this meant purchasing an ex national champion Paso Fino who turned out to be one of the most difficult of horses away from the arena.

I was undecided since my limited experience in organized trail riding had not excited me. However, once I learned about endurance competition and the fact that you did not have to grow up on a horse to participate, I realized I had found my sport. This led to the purchase of a breeding Arabian stallion, Excepzional. This 3 ½ year old, magnificent animal was almost totally “green” and with little experience being a horse. Consequently, I suffered many unscheduled dismounts and usually arrived back at the barn considerably later than my horse.

David and Excepzional in South Dakota

David and Excepzional in South Dakota

Three months of six evenings a week training loosely based upon Pat Parelli’s methods, yielded a completely different horse: one that I was able to put into conditioning training and limited distance competition as a four-year old.

There are two primary types of long distance trail competition. One, organized by NATRC (North American Trail Ride Conference NATRC.org) is like time trials where a set distance has to be completed in a certain time with penalties for too early and too late. Rolled into this is horsemanship judging where handling of the horse on the trail and in camp is judged along with evaluation of horse and rider to negotiate obstacles in a controlled manner. Typically, NATRC has 25 to 35 mile one day rides and 40 mile two-day competitions in novice and experienced categories.

The second competition is AERC’s (American Endurance Ride Conference AERC.org) endurance competitions. These events are offered as single day competitions, or multi-day longer distance rides including 5-day 50 miles per day. Endurance competitions are 50 miles or more each day with a completion time of less than 12 hours. 100 mile competitions have to finish within 24 hours (including vet checks). Riders compete by weight class from feather to heavyweight as well as classes for juniors.   Endurance rides are outright speed competitions with the fastest horse across the line that can be considered “fit to continue”, the winner.

For either type of competition, the training is similar. First is the building of cardio-vascular systems, then muscle, and finally bone density. This is accomplished by gradually increasing the distance and then speed of training but overall, long and slow is the best means to build endurance. Heart rate monitors are often used to measure the horses’ response to training with lower heart rates corresponding to higher fitness levels for given training intervals.

David and Excepzional

David and Excepzional

Horses often start out competing at shorter distances such as 25 miles and then progress to full distance in their second season. However, for many riders, the shorter distances are fun and less stressful on the horse and they stick with the shorter distances for their entire career.

Getting started in trail competition is as simple as just turning up and volunteering to help out. This can get someone comfortable with the how the events are run and a great way to meet people who can mentor the newcomer.

There is nothing like competing to provide the motivation to get out of the house and spend some quality time with your horse. All breeds can participate but, of course, some may be more competitive than others. Trail Riding Competition often suits owners who enjoy visiting fantastic locations around the country and the camaraderie that competing brings.

David Richards (and Heather McWilliams) © 2016