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Summer Schedule 2019

CAMPS FOR KIDS

Double Header Performance Horses, Evergreen. dhphorses.com

June 17-20 and July 8-11, Monday – Thursday, 9am-2pm, $400

C & C Equine (find on Facebook) 5930 Bluebell Lane, Evergreen. Crysten 720-891-5914.  Drop-ins and lessons on non-camp weeks welcome. Complete horse emersion camps for ages 5+.

June 24-27, July 8-11, July 22-25, August 5-8.

CLINICS – ALL DISCIPLINES

Abbe Ranch Jumping Clinic – May 9-12 (sign up ASAP!!!, 2 and 4 day options) 9998 S. Perry Park Road, Larkspur.  abberanchevents.com/2019-clinic.  One of the best cross country jumping clinics in our nation.  Beautiful facility, horses love it here, top notch instructors, safety is main concern, 2 lessons daily with lunch lecture.  Grouped by skill level.  Many people camp out with their horses.  NO DOGS.

Working Equitation Clinic/lessons with Allison Mazurkiewicz. Hosted in North Evergreen. Scheduling special days for garrocha games, drill team work and additional challenge obstacles. Christina [email protected]  April 20, garrocha play dayClinics/Lessons – May 7th rain date May 21st, June 18th rain date June 25th, July 9th rain date July 23rd, August 6th rain date August 13th, September 3rd rain date September 24th.

Working Equitation/Dressage Clinics with Steve Kutie at Mount Falcon Equestrian.  Contact Nicole at [email protected]  Great opportunity to ride consistently with this sought after clinician.  Internationally competitive WE rider and trainer as well as reining and working cow horse.  kutieperformancehorses.com April 27 & 28, May 25 & 26, July 8 – 15, August 10 & 11

Fundamental Horsemanship (all discipline) with Kip Fladland.  July 26, 27, 28.  2, 3 day classes, $450/class.  Jeffco Event Center, Golden.  Morning class, Fundamental Horsemanship, 9am-12pm.  Afternoon class Horsemanship I, 130-430pm.  Kip is a well known clinician and disciple of Buck Brannaman (traveled with Buck for 5 years), Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance.  I have done this clinic twice and highly recommend it to any discipline.  True emersion and you will come out a better horse and rider team.  Foundational horsemanship that will find any holes in your training and solidify your relationship and communication with your horse.  Kip is fun, encouraging and the real deal.  Kips wife is an international Dressage trainer and he understands and appreciates all disciplines.  Two participant dinners during the clinic weekend.  Heather for more information and sign up 303-638-0994, [email protected]

GREAT PLACES TO GO RIDE

Spring Gulch Equestrian Park – Open Year-Round.  7am-830pm. 9490, US-85, Highlands Ranch 80129. $5 day fee or $25 annual pass, $5 donation if you use the jumps.  This is a hidden gem right near Murdochs on Santa Fe (you cannot see from road due to a dam), so close to the foothills – if you haven’t been there, you will be amazed it was there all along. 105 acres of trails, including cross country jumps of all sizes, banks and ditches.  Lovingly cared for by the Mountain States Eventing Association.  Occasionally closed on horse event days. 

Equestrian Skills Park – Open Year-Round.  1045 Lower Gold Camp Rd, Colorado Springs 80905.  Enter at Norris-Penrose Event Center and follow signs to Skills Park Parking, equestrianskillscourse.org.  Incredible new trail skills course park.  RV camping and stalls overnight at Norris-Penrose Event Center. 

GYMKHANAS / OPEN SHOWS


Buffalo Bill Saddle Club
Indiana Equestrian Center 76th and Indiana St. Arvada. June 29  and September 15  Gymkhana & Fun Events OPEN TO THE PUBLIC to ride or watch!    Registration begins at 8 am Events start at 9am. Riders 18 and under are required to wear a helmet. See the website for more details www.BBSCGolden.org or [email protected] Due to insurance restrictions most events are members only.

Double Header Summer Gymkhanas, Evergreen – schedule at:  dhphorses.com

Conifer Area Gymkhana Series, Conifer, McKeever Arena.  June 2nd, July 14th, Aug 4th.

Open Horse Show July 13th, Conifer, McKeever Arena. On Facebook at ConiferGymkhana.

Colorado Stock Horse Association Open Shows, Indian Equestrian Center, Arvada. Coloradostockhorse.com.  May 5, June 2, July 14, August 11, September 8.

More areas on Facebook at Colorado Open Horse Shows

PAIR PACES

April 27 (sign up ASAP!!!)  Pine Ridge Pony Club and Arapahoe Hunt Combined Test and Pair Pace at Spring Gulch Equestrian Park in Highlands Ranch.  [email protected] or find on Facebook under Pine Ridge Pony Club.

RANCH SORTING

Evergreen Ranch Sorting Association, Pine Junction.  Find on Facebook.  Mostly Saturdays May-October.  Fun, educational, supportive and close-knit group. Contact Jerry Toman 303-674-5096 [email protected]

SOCIAL/EDUCATIONAL GROUPS

Intermountain Horse Association meets September-May.  third Tuesdays of the month, 6:30pm at Beau Jo’s in Evergreen, for pizza and social time, meeting and program to follow. intermountainhorse.org

TRAIL RIDING

Overnight Horse Camping Trips – mtnhomes4horses.com/overnight-colorado-horse-trips/

Trail Riding – mtnhomes4horses.com/time-trail-riding/.  See also Margi Evans’ Riding Colorado Book Series.

Poker Ride:  April 27, Bear Creek Regional Park (Equestrian Skills Course), Colorado Springs. equestrianskillscourse.org

Trail Riding Clinic:  May 19, 7:30am -12pm North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC) Clinic.   Learn about competitive trail riding at Greenland Open Space, Larkspur.  Competitive ride will follow clinic.

Diane Wingle, [email protected], 303-847-7006

Poker Ride:  September 7, Alderfer 3 Sisters OS Park, Evergreen.  intermountainhorse.org. $35, adult IHA member; $45, adult non-member; $20, accompanied minor rider; $80, 2 adult family. Fee includes lunch.  Proceeds will benefit a local horse organization. For information or to volunteer, contact Carolyn Knapp-Nelson, [email protected] or 303-674-8853. 

Heather McWilliams © 2019 Questions?  303-638-0994

Kristie Cotton – Local Spotlight

“There is no better proof of the riders method and program than that his horse becomes more beautiful in the course of training.”  Charles De Kunffy

If you have been around our mountain horse community a while, you have heard of Kristie Cotton.  Kristie grew up in the Evergreen and Conifer areas, spending her days exploring the mountains by horseback.  “When you are young and in the woods on a horse, you learn very quickly how important the understanding of taking care of each other is in any situation.”  Kristie’s love for the horse turned into her lifetime career and quest to learn and improve the lives horses and their people through training and understanding.

As a young kid, Kristie quickly realized she wanted to be a horse trainer.  She started taking lessons when she was 9 from a woman who lived on Shadow Mountain.   In the beginning, she was not allowed to have the reins or a saddle until she had an *independent seat, learning the importance of strength and balance in riding.  To feed her quest for knowledge of all things horse, Kristie found work at local barns in trade for learning everything she could.  She rode horses for neighbors who were afraid to, plus there were several horse breeding farms in our area at the time which gave her work teaching the colts to tie, lead and pick up their feet.

Years later, Kristie continues to train horses, and their people in our community.  Most of her time is spent working on private ranches keeping the horses trained and safe on trails for the owners and their guests.  Kristie states, “if the horse is confident in its training, then it can be ridden anywhere.  Trail riding becomes a partnership of trust and willingness.”  She also starts young horses with a strong, lifetime foundation, as well as specializes in behavioral issues and has re-educated horses with unpredictable behaviors such as spooking, bucking, and rearing.

Kristie uses classical Dressage principles when training for any discipline.  She explains, “Dressage is not a ‘style’ of riding, it is a French word meaning ‘training’.  When practiced correctly, the specific exercises create an athletic development of the body, attaining a connected focus between horse and rider.  Training is not about submission, it is knowledge of communicating quiet dialogue to the horse.  Every horse is different, each one needs to be approached with their own creative tactic.”

A course called the Science of Motion, has greatly influenced Kristie’s training and improved her ability to analyze and evaluate equine performance.  She has successfully incorporated biomechanics, the science of body movement, into her training methods.  She believes that this knowledge and understanding of the horse’s physique is extremely important if we are to achieve harmony with them.  For Kristie, this information allows her to look deeper into the root cause of behavior as well as lameness issues.  She finds that if there are behavioral issues, your horse may be attempting to communicate a pain related problem.  Kristie believes, “We cannot force them to do what we think they should be doing.  Training with force creates discord, when our priority should be exercising human virtue.”

With horses that are having issues, Kristie starts by ruling out health issues with the veterinarian as well as evaluating abnormal muscle development and poor fitting tack.  She explains, “Horses have a very strong defensive mechanism of protecting themselves from pain.  They can either shut their minds off as humans do to ‘tolerate’ or they will fight.  Riding can either achieve a therapeutic result for horses or a damaging one.”

Kristie is a true advocate for the horse and the important role that they can hold in the lives of people.

“I believe it is important to keep horses a part of this community.  Kids need healthy hobbies and formal Horsemanship lessons.  Horses are healing, they teach empathy and a deeper connection to nature. To ride and love a horse is immensely rewarding.”

Kristie continues to enjoy her life’s work through training, teaching and writing.  Be sure to check out her informative Facebook page and excellent educational blogs at:  facebook.com/Integritytraining.trueunity/

Kristie was just nominated as the publications chair for Working Equitation United States.  Working Equitation combines the focus of Dressage with the creative use of training obstacles helping to keep training interesting for horses and riders of any discipline or breed of horse.  See weunited.us for more information.

*An independent seat is when a rider is able to connect continuously to the horse’s movement and remain in balance without the use or support of rein contact.  The rider also has independent control of their leg position and aiding without disrupting the seat.   Heather McWilliams © 2019

A Cure for Star

As with children and other animals, horses cannot “tell” us what is bothering or hurting them.  All we can do is watch and listen to what their body language is telling us.  Through trial and error and sometimes exhaustive medical treatments, alternative therapies and natural remedies, we come to the end of our own resources and knowledge.  We listen to the advice of professionals, experts, others who may have had similar experiences.  We “throw the pharmacy at them” to see if something, anything will make even a small change, or help diagnose what it’s not.  But with horses, unpredictable physical behavior is dangerous, often leaving us with only one reasonable option.  This is the story of retired lawyer and local horsewoman, Deborah Carter, who would not give up on her beautiful 3 year-old Quarter Horse filly, Star.

On August 16th, 2017, Deborah Carter picked up Star from 3 months of training as a cutting prospect.  Star had some retained baby tooth caps that needed to be removed as well as a cough, runny nose and a mild lameness.  After a trip to Littleton Equine Medical Center, a new set of shoes and a couple weeks at home, Star was back in great shape.

Two weeks later, at morning feeding time, Star started  frantically leaping, bucking and twitching in her stall.  After Deborah pulled off the fly sheet, Star began  to settle down.  That same day, another horse in the barn was covered in hives.  After discovering and removing a nearby wasp nest, and some frantic internet research, Deborah suspected that wasp sting venom might be to blame for the behavior and the hives.  

Star had some time to recoup and then resumed her  groundwork, lunging and riding.  Her first day with a rider, she started violently spasming, whirling around, leaping, and was clearly terrified.  With the rider and tack removed, she continued to spasm and twitch in her stall for hours.  Upon consultation with her vets, and discussion of the possibility of the neurotoxicity of wasp venom, Deborah gave Star IV Dexamethasone and added Vitamin E and magnesium to her diet.

Over time and with only turnout and no forced work, Star appeared to be improving.  However, Deborah quickly discovered that even a mere touch at the base of her neck or withers could trigger the hyperactive neuromuscular response. Star understandably was becoming quite suspicious and defensive.  This once trusting and affectionate mare, was not able to control or overcome this condition.

A team of vets led by Dr. Erin Contino of Colorado State University’s Equine Orthopaedic Research Center Vet came to Deborah’s Silvertip Farms for further evaluation and diagnosis of the cause of Star’s puzzling symptoms.  Star exhibited the same behavior Deborah had been observing, even when the veterinarian would merely point in the general direction of her withers or neck without contact.  A brief lameness and neurologic exam was performed, bloodwork, X-rays of Star’s cervical spine and withers, all with unremarkable results. The plan was to commence a course of the nerve pain medication and anticonvulsant, gabapentin, and then a trial of corticosteroids if the gabapentin did not work.  All treatments were completed with no success.

CSU returned for further evaluation and to test Deborah’s latest theory that perhaps pelvic pain was the culprit.   A reproductive exam revealed no significant findings other than that Star was in heat. The new plan:  administration of the hormone, Regumate, to suppress Star’s heat cycles as well as Reserpine, a long acting sedative, to see if that might make a difference.

Leaving no stone unturned, Dr. Contino recommended the “complementary” medicine options of chiropractic evaluation and adjustment as well as acupuncture, where a liquid, typically Vitamin B-12, is injected into acupuncture trigger points in order to gain a longer term effect  Through all of the different medications, supplements, hormone treatments, techniques, not to mention concoctions of herbal supplements, Star’s condition remained the same.

Star had become defensive and dangerous in her stall.  Deborah was thinking that her only option may be to euthanize this stunning young mare, but she continued to search for a way to help her.  “I learned of the experimental use of Botox in treating laminits in horses, and thought maybe blocking signals from the nerves to the muscles might help, but ultimately agreed with Dr. Contino that Star’s fasciculations had become too dispersed to even know where to inject.  And then I discovered CBD.”  Deborah came across credible stories of Cannabinoid or “CBD”, the non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant,and its effectiveness in treating anxiety, inflammation, and pain.   Since the other alternative was euthanasia, the vets were supportive but not familiar with the use of CBD in horses or the appropriate dosages or delivery.  Friends and colleagues had some experience with CBD dog treats for their pups’ separation anxiety, but were of little help when it came to CBD for horses.  So Deborah set about to blaze her own trail.

Due to federal regulations, there exists little scientific research in the use and efficacy of CBD.  But reports of experiential results abound.  With increased knowledge and a supply of pure CBD extract from a top Colorado extraction company, Deborah designed a treatment plan for Star.  After literally one day of a fairly high dose of CBD  Star was almost symptom free.  Next day, next dose, the same.  Over the last year, Star has continued to improve on an ever-reducing dosage of CBD.

After long months of unsuccessful veterinary diagnostics and treatments, Star’s response to CBD was shocking, and both Deborah and Dr. Contino became more than intrigued by  the benefits of CBD.  Says Dr. Contino, “We exhausted all reasonable traditional veterinary diagnostics and treatment options for Star and then some, even trying some uniquely creative and unconventional ones.  After all but giving up and then seeing the remarkable improvement Star experienced with CBD, I have become a true believer in the promise of CBD to help many of our horses.”

Not long after Stars dramatic turn for the better, Deborah and her enterprising son Sam began their own trials of CBD in horses, dogs, cats and people, an undertaking that led them, with consultation from lawyers, financial advisors, Ph.D. chemists, and others to launch Trove LLC, their own CBD company with the highest quality CBD products for people and animals (www.TroveCBD.com).

Amazingly, through our evolutionary development, mammals (including humans, horses, dogs and cats) have been hardwired to gain the benefits of the cannabis sativa plant through our endocannabinoid system (ECS).  The ECS is a complex signaling network within the mammalian body that functions as a lock and key mechanism when cannabinoids are introduced into the bloodstream. These receptors are present throughout the body, and are the reason why cannabinoids can have such diverse and profound effects.  With the recent research, development, and experience, CBD has made a name for itself as a natural means of supporting the immune, musculoskeletal, digestive, and nervous systems.  CBD is also non-psychoactive,non habit-forming, and well tolerated.

Deborah’s tenacious desire and desperation to save Star led her down new paths and opened up a treasure trove of a new kind of therapy.  Star continues to improve, and Deborah hopes that she can eventually return to her under saddle work. But if not, Star is beautiful, happy, pain-free and alive.  Check out TroveCBD.com for more information on CBD and the full line of Trove products for people, horses, dogs and cats.

Heather McWilliams © 2019.

What makes a horse property a horse property?

Andrew and I have been specializing in helping folks buy and sell horse properties in the Foothills, along the Front Range and throughout Metro Denver for more than 15 years.  Because it is a specialty, and we target marketing to people around the globe, we often come across individuals who are new to the area, or are considering relocating here, and they are looking for a horse property.  Either they currently have horses and are looking to bring them with them, or they desire to begin a horsey chapter of their lives, maybe one they have only dreamed of, and they will acquire the animals after they secure the right property.

We learned years ago in the real estate business, that just because a property is advertised as “horse property”, that might not really be true.  Sometimes it is simply a lack of experience and expertise on a part of the agent, or maybe the current owner has horses and has requested that the agent advertise it as such.  At times an agent may assume that since a horse (or more) live on the property at present, the property is a “horse” property by common sense definition.  Ignorance is no excuse, as they say, and even if a horse lives on a property today, the new owner of tomorrow may have no legal right to add one of their own after the transaction is completed.

Although not meant to be the exhaustive treatise on what makes a horse property a horse property, over the following few paragraphs we will sort through some helpful considerations to investigate.  I am certain a room full of horse people could come up with a couple of more, but let’s look at these qualifiers:

  • Zoning guidelines
  • Legal water
  • Definition of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs)
  • Common Interest Community (HOA) rules
  • The Eye Test

Zoning and any local municipality categories are a first step in your process.  Each county and city or township groups properties into categories of use.  A quick check with the zoning office, or usually online at a handy website, will not only help you determine what a certain property is designated – agricultural, residential, PD (planned development), mixed use, commercial, etc., but it will also provide you with zoning category definitions which will tell you not only if horses are allowed, but how many are permitted.  To be honest, usually if horses are okay, the number of animals allowed is much higher than you would want to put there.

Last month’s article discussed legal water issues in more detail and if you missed it, and cannot find a copy of the December Serenity lying about, you can find that article here http://mtnhomes4horses.com/domestic-well-household-use-well/. In quick summary, all the water in the State of Colorado belongs to the People of Colorado, not the property owner.  Even before official statehood in 1876, the right of use and to divert water in Colorado has been a big deal.  A property owner may enjoy rights of use of water from a well, a reservoir, or stream for their horses.  However, there may be a well, a reservoir and a stream on a property where it is absolutely illegal to use any of that water for horses.  So, check on the source of water available and double check on it’s permitted uses.  A water attorney is your most reliable resource, but an experienced real estate agent with education in sources of water can provide you with capable guidance as well.

At times, restrictions have been placed upon a property or a neighbor that restricts the allowed uses on the property moving forward.  Some of these restrictions, quite frankly, are inappropriate, outdated, and even offensive.  But if not illegal, they can limit your uses of a property.  A visit to the county offices again can be illustrative, but your real estate agent can work with local title companies to pull what is referred to as CC&’Rs – Definition of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions on a property.  A careful reading of these documents is an absolute requirement for anyone purchasing any property, but paramount for those thinking of bringing their horses.

Beyond CC&R’s, any property located within a Common Interest Community (HOA) will have rules that limit and restrict an owner’s use and discretion over their private property.  Some examples are types of animals, numbers of animals, types of fences, types of secondary structures (barns and pasture shelters), to name a few.  HOA guidelines supersede county zoning and local guidelines.  Even in cases where the HOA is considered “voluntary” and you are told you can “do what you want” is unwise to assume a dormant neighborhood organization will remain that way after you complete a purchase.  A best practice is to submit any horse related improvements to the architectural review committee (or it’s equivalent) during your Due Diligence period to make certain you will be allowed to follow through on your plans after Closing.

Finally, after considering Zoning Guidelines and municipal categories, Legal water, Definition of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs), and Common Interest Community (HOA) rules, a person with the best interests of their horse in mind must evaluate a property based upon what I call the “eye test”.  In other words, is it a property where a horse will enjoy a safe and happy life?

Eye tests considerations are aspects like sun exposure, grazing and exercise opportunity, topography and slope, ease of access for your truck and trailer, and evacuation options should a wildfire develop in the area.  Sun exposure makes a huge difference in our area.  Whether the property is south facing or north facing makes a huge difference in the speed of snowmelt, retention of icy build ups and opportunity to safely ride or even load your horse in the winter months.

Think about the topography and make up of the land.  Is there meadow for grazing?  Is the slope of the ground gentle enough?  What about spacing of rocks and trees?  Unfortunately, we have seen instances where a property would be perfectly suited as a goat sanctuary, but not for a happy horse.  Some acreages with limited true pasture will benefit from a track system for exercise and replacement “grazing” (See my June 2018 article http://mtnhomes4horses.com/track-system/).

For those of us living with horses in the Foothills for longer periods, we have experienced the scare of wildfires and calls for evacuation.  Look at a property through the lense of how easy it will be to load them up and get them away to safety.  Long narrow access roads might be adventurous at a leisurely pace in your four-wheel drive.  But in times of crisis, you want easy access for truck and trailer with ideally more than one route in and out of the neighborhood.  It is not fun to think about but planning your route today could save heartache at some point in the future.

As mentioned previously, there are likely more considerations to be thought of when evaluating a property for horses, but hopefully this piece will help you start your checklist.  Maybe having horses at home is a dream of every horse person.  A thoughtful process at the outset will help you also fulfill your horses dream of where they would dream to live as well.

Heather McWilliams © 2019

Domestic and Household-Use Well Permits

Many horse owners in our Foothills communities, along the Front Range, and even throughout the State of Colorado give no thought about the legality of the source of water for their horses.  Whether it be a “frost free” spigot, a garden hose running from the house, or plumbed automatic waterers, owners turn on the tap and let the water flow.

However, Colorado Water Commissioner Tim Buckley explains that it is important for owners to understand the legal issues relating to sources of water and its availability for their horses and/or livestock.

According to Buckley, all waters in the state of Colorado are owned by the people of Colorado. The right to use the water or a “water right” is the right to divert or use the water under the prior appropriation system as long as the water is put to a beneficial use. The “State” or Departments of the State such as Division of Parks and Wildlife and others own water rights but are not any different than a private water right holder. The function of the Department of Water Resources is to administer these rights.

Even rain water collected in buckets and barrels; or puddles in the pasture, is not necessarily available for a landowner’s use.   Matter of fact, unless a property owner has specific legal rights to use rain water, surface water (puddles, ponds or streams), or even their well water for a specific purpose, they are compelled to leave the water where it is.

If you have ever purchased a property served by a well, hopefully your REALTOR discussed the category of that well and it’s legal uses.  Common categories are Household, Domestic, and Livestock.   The names of these categories confuse most everyone.  After all, wouldn’t Domestic mean indoors?

As a rule of thumb, with multiple noted exceptions, Household is for use only inside the house.  No exterior watering of plants, animals or even washing your car in the driveway.  If you fill up Fido’s bowl, do it from the kitchen sink.  In certain cases a Household well could be augmented (a water court process) to allow for a limited watering of a determined number of horses, or an outside garden or hot tub – but the parameters of use will be very clearly defined and limited.

Domestic wells are more likely to allow for the watering of an outdoor animal like a horse, or a donkey or even maybe a goat.  However, “Domestic” does not indicate a blanket permission either.  It is important to read the well permit directly, looking for keywords or phrases.  Never assume that a Domestic well category gives you the freedom you are looking for without verification.  For example, most Domestic wells would not allow for you to board outside horses on your property for profit.  In the case of boarding businesses, a Commercial well status is a common requirement.

Another category we run across on older, farm or ranch use properties can be “Livestock”.  This category gives broader permissions and allows a wider variety of uses.  Cows, horses, goats, etc., can be allowed to be watered from these types of wells.  That said, read the permit itself for limitations or further definition.

What about your pond or the creek that runs seasonally or even year round through the back forty?  The answer may surprise or even dismay you.  Without an adjudicated (again – water court process) water right to use the water out of that pond or creek or ditch, you must not consider it a legal source for watering your horse.  To my knowledge the State of Colorado does not currently require you to keep your animal away with a fence or other barrier, but a stern admonition to your animal along the lines of “don’t drink that water” is in order and that water cannot function as the animal’s primary water source.

In some recent years our Foothills communities have enjoyed excellent precipitation totals through wet springs and frequent summer showers.  You have noticed both greener grass into August and September, along with uncommon rain showers ruining your picnic well into July.  Not only are we grateful for this wonderful moisture and the late grazing our animals enjoy in the pastures, but the Colorado Division of Water sometimes declares a “Free River” status for water right enforcement.  In layman’s terms, “Free River” conditions lead to a lighter enforcement of legal water use.  If you are curious, we are NOT presently enjoying “Free River” conditions.

How do you find out if your current source of water legally allows you to water your horse?  There are several options available to you.  Hopefully you received a copy of your well permit, during the Due Diligence period, when you purchased your property (or when the well was drilled if you bought vacant land).  Pull it out of the file and read it over, looking for the “type” description.  A call to the Colorado Division of Water Ground Water information desk (303) 866-3587 is possibly the simplest solution.  Leave your address and usually a return call within 24 hours gives you your well permit number and it’s prescribed use.  Many don’t know that walk-ins are welcome M-F from 9-4 at the Colorado Division of Water office at 1313 Sherman St #821 in Denver.  The folks there are super helpful and are happy to give you the information you need.

What if you learn that Trigger can’t legally drink the water from your well?  Commissioner Buckley offered more than one solution for that situation as well.  An expensive alternative would be to add a water right to your well through a Water Court process.  This involves a water attorney and a willing Seller but is doable with money, patience and determination.  A quicker and more inexpensive alternative would be to install a cistern at your property and to purchase potable water from a number of local vendors.  Keeping a record of your purchase history and the number of horses you are watering keeps you out of trouble.

Looking to buy a horse property and wanting to conduct the proper due diligence to ensure that a legal water source for your horse is included?  Seek out an experienced REALTOR who specializes in horse properties, farms and ranches.  They can guide you through the process.  I also recommend hiring a water attorney to conduct a title search to verify any adjudicated water rights, especially in cases where more than a well permit is being transferred.  It may cost you several hundred dollars up front, but the peace of mind it brings can easily justify the investment.

Want to learn more?  Visit the Division’s website at http://water.state.co.us.  Call Commissioner Buckley’s office (303) 501-4298 or email him at [email protected] You want to be informed.  Legal water use is a big deal for residents of Colorado.  Heather McWilliams © 2018.

Rider Confidence – Can I really do this?

May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.  – Nelson Mandela

Horse goals for each of us can vary greatly.  For some it may be to just get on and feel safe, to trail ride around the block, to rope a calf, to correctly complete a barrel pattern, to remember the drill team routine, to make it to one show to just be in the warm up arena, to qualify for a national competition, or even the Olympics.  Break the big goal down into smaller steps and goals and then get started.  No matter the goal, the first step is courage.

Being courageous is not the absence of fear, but in the face of fear, choosing to act with courage anyway.  Throughout history, monumental moments happened because a person, a group or a country chose to ignore the odds, push past their doubts and fears and charge ahead anyway – think the movie Bravehart!

Maybe we are not defending our country and our freedoms, but sometimes our fears can seem that big.  With horses, our fears are not just about being judged or making a fool of ourselves, but they also apply to our health and safety.  Here is the disclaimer; we need the equine partner who is the right fit for us.  There are always stories that make exceptions to the rule, but have a professional horse person help you evaluate that you have the right horse to be safe and accomplish your goal, no matter what it is.  If not, there is a better partner out there for both of you.

With fears, we can stall and overthink.  But we have to have the courage to act.  The longer we wait, the more power fear has.  What you resist, persists, but what you step into dissipates.  The only way to conquer your fears is to step into them.  Avoiding them just makes them stronger and scarier.

As Les Brown said, what you think about is what you are.  Be intentional about what you put in your brain.

I recently was at the threshold of a big goal this year.  Rain delayed part of the goal by a day and my brain was racing with “what ifs”.   I needed to recall quotes and encouragements in my brain, I needed my husband, sons and friends to encourage me, I listened to music that gave me warrior-like confidence, I took lots of deep breaths and when the moment arrived I said, “I am going to be the best I can be for my horse and make it fun for her”.

I believe all riders struggle with confidence (as you can see, I certainly do), all people do for that matter, but here we are talking about riders.  The first step to confidence is commitment.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
― Winston S. Churchill

We have to be committed to the goal we want to achieve.  We have to have the motive to stick with the goal.  Darren Hardy defined commitment as, doing the thing you said you were going to do long after to mood you were in when you originally said it has left you.  Lack of consistency is the subtle killer of dreams and goals.  Have the grit to show up even when it is hard.

Once you are committed to the goal, next is courage.  Courage is doing what is uncomfortable, stretching yourself and stepping into the unknown.   To build courage, we need to be foolish.  Steve Jobs said, “don’t fear failure.”  True courage is risky and our egos are fragile, but true personal growth only happens when we stretch our current limits and comfort zone.  The size of the problem you take on determines the size for the results.

That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do it has increased. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Once we have stepped into the unknown with courage and continue to persist and strive toward our goal, our capabilities improve.  As Emerson stated, our task becomes easier and our ability to do it increases.  The repetition and time spent moves us past our fears and we develop new capabilities and skills we did not have before.

Don’t keep re-reading the last chapter – believe in yourself & the ability to write your own story. 

Down the line of your commitment, courage and new capabilities you will find yourself at confidence!  You didn’t start with confidence, it was a process to get there.  We do what we want to do, admit it.  You have to want it.  Commit to a goal and the steps to accomplish that goal.  Maybe your goal is big.  Maybe you want to go to the Olympics, the Nationals or the Futurity and not just go, but win.  The bigger the dream, the more important the team – find help through friends and family to encourage and support you and professionals to help you keep learning to be a better partner for your horse.

What will your goals be for 2019?  Dream big!  Heather McWilliams © 2018

Be In The Arena

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 the process of 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 seven years that I have been showing, 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 may 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.

Although, 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 horse’s fault.

Heather & Molly Sept 2018

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 and be a team.  We work with them to do what they were made to do, but 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 participating seems too intimidating at first, start by volunteering and see what it’s like.  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 © 2018.

One Woman’s Quest to – DISCOVER THE HORSE – by Alyssa Mathews        

In my life so far, I have ridden in 8 different countries and I feel so honored and privileged to call THIS equine community my home. The people here truly care about their horses and about each other. For each of you this support means something different. But for me, it has allowed me to grow and learn as a horse person and is one of the reasons I have been able to start this ambitious project.

I have been riding since before I can remember. In a note about my first ride, my mom explained that I wanted to ride all by myself with no help.  “I love Casper,” I proclaimed as I hugged him. No one in my family was into horses and they had absolutely no idea what they were getting into when they let their little girl exchange house chores for riding lessons.

When I was 5 we noticed several trucks, horse trailers and horses at our local community center. We went up to a man in a cowboy hat and my parents explained my obsession. Luckily for me, Ralph understood my obsession and happened to be afflicted in the same way. The Brush Bustin Trail Riders were a group of cowboys on an annual three day trail ride. They rode about 30 miles each day, camped, and ended up at the PRCA rodeo in Spooner, WI. My parents invited the entire group to camp at our place the following year. We became good friends with Ralph.

Not long after we first met, he had my dad putting up fencing on our property and brought a couple of horses over for us to take care of. One of the mares that he brought was bred, and so began a six-year-old’s first full life course on animal husbandry. It was an experience complete with sleeping in the barn and hourly checks when the due date arrived. I got to be there for the birth. A few days later, the Cowboy Ralph came over to check on the new foal. He asked me if I wanted the little colt to be my first horse. My acceptance was enthusiastic, to say the least. Ralph is 86 years old now. He still rides, drives and farms his land where he keeps 16 horses, two mules, a miniature donkey and lots of sheep.

Throughout my life I have had some very special experiences with unique breeds and the amazing people that have dedicated their lives to these horses. Including:

* Driving, pack trips, breed shows, and Performances at Road to The Horse in Kentucky with the Norwegian Fjords.

* Owning a Little Iron Horse, also known as the Cheval Canadian.

* Riding to my wedding on my Kiger Mustang.

* Crossing Country borders from Slovenia to Italy on the Lipizzaner.

* Working with the Skyrian Pony at a Therapeutic Riding Center in Greece.

* Thanks to local Helen Mleynek, falling in love with an incredible gaited breed – The Icelandic.

My equine love story probably feels familiar to many and it has led me down a unique and exciting path.   In September of 2017 I officially launched my DiscoverTheHorse Quest. I am going to ride and document every breed of horse in the world. There are over 350 breeds. When complete, it is my hope for this to be the largest equine education project of its kind.

With no actual road map, doing something that has never been done before, my goal is to make meaningful and entertaining content.  So I decided to document with video. Ideally, each breed will have videos  featuring something the breed is known for, an impressive example of the breed or a ride in the breed’s country of origin.

For each breed, I put together a quest video and an “about the breed” video.  The quest video takes you on the journey with me and tells the story of my ride. The breed video goes into more detail about the breed features and history. All of the videos can be seen on my Facebook page, Youtube, and my DiscoverTheHorse website. Since the project launch, I have ridden and documented 26 breeds.  My videos have accumulated over one million views on Facebook.  The Irish Draught breed video is the most popular so far with over 250,000 views and counting.  Feel free to join 7,500+ followers on the DiscoverTheHorse Facebook page to come along for the rides.

My most recent quest tour brought me east.  Meeting the horse that played “Hidalgo” in the movie with Viggo Mortensen and going on a ride with an Emmy award winning TV producer were a couple of the highlights.  I am very excited about the future. After planning and thinking about this idea for over a decade, it truly is a dream come true to be doing this. Horses are my passion. Meeting these people and horses all over the world shows that we have a common bond that bring us together in a truly authentic way. If through doing this I can bring awareness to our amazing animals, I know it is what I’m meant to do.

This brings me to you. You have your own story. All of us have one life to live and yet often times we limit ourselves.  There are fears, finances and time. What will people think? In the horse world we often get into debates about training styles, disciplines and philosophies.  These concerns and opinions are valid and they are real, but you would be amazed at what you can do if you decide its okay for people to call you crazy.

I have two challenges for you:

The first one is easy. Go and hug your horse. Thank them for the role they play in your life. If you don’t have a horse right now, a dog, cat or human are reasonable alternatives.  Please don’t hug the elk!

Second, I challenge you to come up with something that you have always wanted to do. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, just something that is meaningful to you. Take the steps you need to make it happen. And remember to use your amazing horse community that you have right here to help you succeed.

To help contribute financially to Alyssa’s quest, go to: Patreon.com/discoverthehorse

Follow my quest, plus view all breeds documented to date, go to:

Facebook.com/discoverthehorse

Instagram.com/discoverthehorsequest

Bob is Back in the Saddle!

From Colorado Serenity Magazine, November 2017:  On August 17, 2017, Bob Benefiel 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

After walking out of Craig Hospital that day, Bob set his next goal to getting back in the saddle a year after his accident – it may have been sooner, but he promised his doctors he would wait a year!

On August 17th, Bob reached that goal and rode his gelding Dusty and has been riding since!  Seeing others ride since the accident has been difficult and brought back memories of being a kid and how much he loved to ride.  That drive to ride again kept him going every day.

Bob shared, “When I reached that goal to ride, the accomplishment gave me such a happy heart and that feeling of freedom.  When I am on a horse, I feel so free and all of my troubles are gone.  My legs and arms are still weak, but I am comfortable once I am in the saddle.”

Bob explained that the accident was very humbling.  He learned to ask for and receive help.  Bob never blamed the accident on the horse.  He admitted he knew better and hurried her along without doing the groundwork he knew was so important.  “You can’t rush a young horse,”  Bob stated.

Most importantly, Bob and Jody want to express how grateful they are to all of the people that have supported them on this journey.  They are beyond thankful for this community and all of their help, thoughts and prayers!

Land Preservation with the Track System

Green grass is here, but how do we keep our horses from overgrazing every blade in the first month and turning our property into a dirt lot?  There is hope!  A few years ago I read an article about a Texas A & M military reenactment group who were using a track system at their five acre base to keep their horses fit for their weekend duties.

Forward to a couple years ago when we moved to our new property.  It was a blank slate with no fencing or any horse amenities.  We requested an evaluation from Colorado State University Extension Agent Jennifer Cook, who is a grasses and grazing specialist, to come over to look at the natural state of our property and to advise us on how to best steward and preserve our land while the horses also enjoyed the property.  One of her suggestions was a track system.

There are certainly exceptions, but in general, the arid Colorado climate flora cannot sustain continuous grazing.  So how do we keep the horses happy, healthy and living the way they were designed to live which is walking and grazing throughout the day? The track system!  The principle behind the track system is to sacrifice smaller areas in order to save larger areas while keeping the horses moving and grazing.

The track system can work on most any size of property.  In our case, we designated one pen with the water and shelter that the horses have access to all day, and we shut them in there at night for our own peace of mind and so we are more likely to hear them if anything is amiss.  The back gate from the pen opens to the track, which is a 12’ wide thoroughfare that makes a circle perimeter around about 6 acres.  We also created two other wide areas along the track for feeding hay.  The recommended track width is 6’ to 12’ wide.  The narrower width will keep them moving more, but wider will provide more escape routes from dominant horses.  We have three horses on our track and the 12’ width seems to give horses that know each other plenty of room to negotiate.

In the morning, we put hay out in the two larger areas and open the gate to the track.  The horses spend their day walking the track to the hay and coming back to the water.  This time of year there is a little grass that comes up on the track, but the track and the pen are essentially sacrifice areas where the traffic is too heavy to grow much vegetation.

The area in the middle of the track we have divided into three pastures that we use to rotate the horses through for an hour or two each day.  That time decreases or may even cease if the grass heights get too low, but they still have the track to keep them walking and busy.

Ideally, we would have slow feed hay nets around larger hay bales in the feeding areas, but that does not work where we are with the elk and deer.

We have noticed an increased level in the fitness of the horses and are amazed at how they walk the track most of the day, sometimes “doing the loop” at a gallop just for fun.  It is a great way to keep your horses fit if you don’t get to ride as much as you would like.  You will find they move a lot more then they do in an open pasture.

 

Materials are flexible.  We have seen more permanent tracks or just electric fencing.  We chose cord electric fencing and T-Posts with caps over the majority of the track to try it out.  We picked cord over tape because it does not catch the wind and snow like the tape.  Starting with the “temporary” fencing gives you the flexibility to change the width and maybe the route.

Pasture Paradise by Jaime Jackson

Benefits of a track system:

  • Sacrifice small areas to save large areas for grazing
  • Ease of grazing management
  • More stimulating environment for horses
  • Prevents boredom and vices
  • Preserves the beauty of your property
  • Keeps horses moving all day
  • Mirrors the natural environment by horses walking, eating smaller amounts at a time
  • Keeps horses fit

The track system can work in all different climates and for different purposes.  If the majority of your land is used for arenas or barns, the track system can be a great way to use those smaller spaces and corridors for exercise and turnouts.  We have utilized our track system for over two years now and it has been revolutionary for our horse keeping and land management.

Heather McWilliams © 2018

For more information:  http://www.all-natural-horse-care.com/paddock-paradise.html

Paddock Paradise – A Guide to Natural Horse Boarding by Jaime Jackson

Pen sacrifice area with water and shelter

Track area made from cord electric fencing, note green grass on either side.