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Are You A Horse Junkie?

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

You might be a Horse Junkie if…

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

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

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

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

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

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

…horse breath is your favorite smell.

…the majority of your shoes are for the barn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…you know not to wear fleece around your horse.

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

…you know what Chicago screws are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…hay can be found in your shirt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…you are an expert at working with hat hair.

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

…hay is a daily hair accessory.

…your dog is a breed from the herding group.

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

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

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

…you drive 4 hours for a one hour lesson.

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

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

…you can fix anything with bailing twine or wire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…instead of skipping, you “canter”.

…you know more knots than most sailors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Heather McWilliams © 2017

Looking to Improve Your Horsemanship?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read these reviews from other Kip clinic participants:

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

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

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

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

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

EquiGrace – Mountain Area Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Saw A Child by John Anthony Davies

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

Horse Calendar for 2017 

Listed by Entity alphabetically

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]