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Poker Ride October 26th 2019!

It is time for one the areas most popular horse events of the year, the Intermountain Horse Association (IHA) Poker Ride.  This year, IHA is teaming up with the Buffalo Bill Saddle Club (BBSC) and proceeds will benefit Harmony Equine Center in Franktown, Colorado.

Harmony Equine Center is located on a beautiful, pastoral property along Highway 86 in Franktown, Colorado and is the equine division of the Denver Dumb Friends League.  So far this year, they have been given more than 225 starved horses by law enforcement.  They believe that communities are now recognizing vulnerable and at-risk horses and are reporting this type of neglect, bringing Harmony more horses than ever.  For more information and for specific stories on rescued horses, go to harmonyequinecenter.org/.

As with all equine events this summer, Vesicular Stomatitis (VSV) is a big concern and Aspen Creek Veterinary Hospital of Conifer, Colorado will be on site to check all horses before they are unloaded from the trailer.  It is thought and certainly hoped by the horse and veterinary communities, that the virus will be waning by time of the Poker Ride. 

The Poker Ride is open to the public and family friendly for all ages of riders.  People are also welcome to lead horses and or ponies. If you have not been to a Poker Ride before, it is a fun way to spend a fall morning with your friends and horses.  

Here is how it works: participants ride their horses to 5 stations along the designated trail.  At each station, riders will pick a playing card and a station volunteer will record it on their card received at registration.  Once all riders are back to the finish point, the winning hands will be determined.  Next the participants select a prize from an array of horse related merchandise. Best hand picks first, the second-best hand picks second and so on until every participant gets a prize.  Of course, you must be present to select a prize. Lunch will be served at the finish for all participants. 

Poker Ride map – stations in pink

As in years past, the Poker Ride will be held at Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space Park at 30357 Buffalo Park Road Evergreen Colorado.  The trails vary from sandy to rocky, so it is recommended that horses are shod or have trail boots.  There are three route options to choose from that coincide with the card stations: 

  * SHORT 3.4 miles about 1.5 hours

  * MEDIUM 4.66 miles about 2 hours

  * LONG 5.85 miles about 3 hours

Riders start at their discretion, leaving no later than 11 am.  Everyone must be back by noon and out of the parking area by 2pm.  There is no public water available, therefore please bring water for yourself and your horse. 

Registration Fees:

  • Single adult $45
  • Senior age 65 and up $35
  • Minor under 18 must be accompanied by adult or senior $20
  • Family – up to 2 adults and 2 youths $100
  • Lunch only $10 for non-riders
  • Buy an extra card to replace your worst card – One per rider $10
  • Sponsorship $75 individuals and businesses

Saturday October 26th:

  • Gate opens 8:00 am
  • Onsite registration begins 8:00 am
  • Ride begins 9:00 am
  • Last rider out 11:00 am
  • All riders return cards 12:00 noon
  • Lunch 12:00 noon
  • All vehicles out of the parking area 2:00pm

You will be able to register using our online store as well as in person.  Online registration at bbscgolden.org/Poker_Ride OPEN NOW and is HIGHLY recommended.   When you open the store please scroll down the page to see the registration choices and sponsorship and the option to make an additional donation.  IN ORDER TO HELP PLAN ONSITE PARKING, PLEASE TRAILER POOL IF POSSIBLE AND REGISTER ASAP!

For more information on the Poker Ride and other BBSC events, go to www.bbscgolden.org.  The Buffalo Bill Saddle Club was founded in 1947 and is dedicated to preserving and promoting our Western heritage through family-oriented activities with our horse companions.  They accomplish this through trail riding (day rides and overnight camping rides), monthly meetings, parades, social events and two Gymkhanas.  The fall Gymkhana will be on September 15th at Indiana Equestrian Center in Arvada, Colorado.

Heather McWilliams © 2019

World Champion on a Whim!

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity – Seneca

Not exactly a whim, as Kathy Laskye has been learning and preparing for this moment for the last eight years. 

Kathy was born a “horse girl” and grew up on a dairy farm in northwest Illinois.  She started with a Shetland pony, then spent her school years competing at local county fairs in Western Pleasure and Horsemanship.  When she headed off to college, her “horse bug” was put on hold for many years. 

In 2011 Kathy decided she “wasn’t getting any younger” and bought a Paint gelding to start riding again.  Her initial intentions were to simply reconnect with her horse roots and trail ride until she stumbled upon Evergreen Ranch Sorting Association (ERSA).  Kathy had never worked cattle before, but thought it looked like fun, not to mention the people at ERSA were welcoming and easy going, creating an ideal learning environment – Kathy was hooked! 

Kathy explains, “the beautiful thing about ranch sorting is all you need is a horse that is interested in cattle. Again, I started on a Paint gelding who wasn’t ‘cow bred’ but he was a willing participant and we learned together.  A year after I joined ERSA and became a true addict, I decided to give the competitive arena a whirl and in 2013 I won the Colorado State Championship with RSNC (Ranch Sorting National Championship) Beginner Division.”

RSNC is the National Association based out of Wellington, CO which promotes ranch sorting all across the country. RSNC was started with the intent to preserve the heritage and integrity of the ranching lifestyle while providing a family oriented, competitive riding experience at the grassroots level. Created for all levels of ranch sorting enthusiasts, RSNC has divisions available for beginners all the way to professionals.  Everyone can compete at their comfort level and gain confidence along the way.

Through the support and encouragement of her friends, Kathy took her first try at the Cinch RSNC World Finals in Fort Worth, Texas in 2016.  Kathy reports, “I didn’t place nor even make any cuts, but what an experience it was to watch what a true cow horse and rider can do!  That 1st World Finals experience sealed the deal and I was all in!”

As she continued on with ERSA and RSNC competitions, Kathy’s new desire to really hone her skills and knowledge led her to further her horsemanship and reading cattle skills by working with Cole Piotrowski (Evergreen trainer and multi-World Finals winner) as well as Wolfe Cowhorse trainers, Jessie & Logan Wolfe.  Kathy also found Honey, a ‘cow bred’ mare who she could partner with to compete at the higher levels, adding Kat to her string this past April. 

Honey, Kathy and Kat

After several more years of competing regionally with RSNC Kathy and Honey won the 2017 Colorado State Finals in the Rookie Division and attended several more World Finals down in Ft. Worth.  Each year learning something new to take back home and work on.

At the beginning of 2019, Kathy thought she might take a break, still ranch sort, but not as much and maybe even skip the CINCH RSNC World Finals in Fort Worth this year that she had attended the last 4 years.  Fast forward to June.  Kathy explains, “of course, peer pressure played into my decision and away I went!  I’ve met so many wonderful people over the years that I wanted to see again in Fort Worth and there was a great crew headed down from Colorado/Wyoming.”

The CINCH RSNC World Finals is a 7-day show with numerous classes and divisions running all week long.  Classes can range from 100 – 600+ teams. The week kicks off with the Western Heritage division. Western Heritage classes are designed for the team to work the cattle in a quiet, more authentic ranch sorting style.  There are no loud noises to scare them away from the gate; there is no loping into the pen to move the cow quickly.

Kathy rode in the Western Heritage class with another competitor from Parker, CO, Tanner Sperle.  Tanner and Kathy have competed together as a team for several years and know each other’s style and strengths.  After making the final cut to the Top 10, they were in the finals!  Luckily, they were called out to sort in the #10 spot, giving them the advantage of knowing exactly what cow they were to cut 1st and exactly how many cattle we needed to be World Champions and they DID IT!  Kathy also rode another class of Western Heritage with a dear friend from South Carolina, Beth Lindler, where they finished 5th in the World.  The combination of both of those class finishes put her in the High Point position at the end of the day to win the World Championship saddle!

The courage to act on that whim and head back to Fort Worth brought all of Kathy’s preparation and learning together, giving her the opportunity to run into that “luck”, accomplishing a long time goal – Congratulations Kathy and Kat!  For more information:  RSNC https://www.rsnc.us/ and find ERSA on Facebook under Evergreen Ranch Sorting Association. Heather McWilliams (c) 2019

The Story of Oliver

From the moment Oliver was placed in his spot at the southeast corner of Evergreen Parkway and Stagecoach Blvd, he became a popular community icon.  Carefully woven from wire and painted to withstand the elements, Oliver was created by Jeff Best of Devil’s Rope Studio in Clare, Michigan (www.devilsropestudio.com). 

In 2016, Jeff Best received a call from a gentleman who had seen his barbed wire draft horses on display in the city of Mt Pleasant, Michigan for an art competition.  The gentleman asked if Jeff could make a full-size Friesian that looked like his wife’s horse Oliver to give to her as a Christmas present.  With that, Oliver was born.  With their permission to use the name Oliver, Jeff created a brother Oliver who traveled 1400 miles in the Spring of 2018 to his new home for the year in Evergreen, Colorado. 

Not long after, Oliver’s popularity reached back to Jeff in Michigan.  Jeff explains, “In the fall of 2018, I was competing in an art competition in Grand Rapids Michigan called Art Prize 10.  This is an international art competition that attracts hundreds of thousands of art enthusiasts from all over the country.  I typically stay with my piece during the three-week exhibition, so I talk to many, many people during my stay.  One particular day I was talking to a person that asked me if I made anything but wildlife. I responded that I indeed did and had a large Friesian horse in Evergreen, Colorado.  Just at that moment a lady just happened by and overheard the conversation.  She said… ‘is that horse you speak of named Oliver?’   I responded with I’m sure a perplexed look, ‘why yes, it is’.  She continued, ‘I’m from Evergreen and I drive by Oliver every day as I head to work’.   What are the chances that this lady would be walking by me just as I talked about a horse sculpture I made in Evergreen and then know the sculptures name while being 1400 miles from home?  It was a pretty amazing event for me and warmed my heart thinking of the wide influence Oliver has had in such a short period of time.“

According to Dale Glover of Sculpture Evergreen, Oliver was originally brought to Evergreen as one of the temporary pieces for Sculpture Evergreen’s annual sculpture walk. Most temporary pieces stay in place for one year, from June 1st to June 1st. Since 2019 is the 25th anniversary year of Sculpture Evergreen, they had a goal of increasing awareness of the organization in the Evergreen community. They picked Oliver as the symbol of the anniversary celebration because of his prominent location.

Next the fundraising effort was kicked off in January 2019 to purchase Oliver and add him to the permanent collection, now at 37 pieces around Evergreen. The fundraising effort for Oliver was a little too successful and didn’t allow much time for promotion, raising the funds in about 3 weeks!  In addition to the purchase of Oliver, they budgeted for the improvement of the site that will be completed in late June. 

In order to continue the promotion of Sculpture Evergreen and celebrate their 25th year, Jeff Best delivered a Baby Oliver to Evergreen the first weekend of June.  This new 6′ tall Baby Oliver (the original Oliver is 8’) will be raffled off by Sculpture Evergreen throughout the summer at the Lake Concerts, Evergreen Rodeo, Summerfest, Evergreen Fine Arts Festival and a few other events. Baby Oliver will be at each of those events, so people can stop by their booth, check him out, and buy tickets! Tickets are $25 or 5 for $100. The drawing will be held at the Boogie at the Barn October 25th, but ticket buyers do not need to be present to win.  Funds raised will be used to continue expanding the collection of outdoor sculpture throughout the Evergreen community.  You can also contact Dale Glover directly for tickets at [email protected] or call 425-260-9399.

Oliver is just one of the many sculptures around town that is a part of the Sculpture Walk created by Sculpture Evergreen in 1999.  This yearly competition brings a lively diversity of high-quality sculpture to the mountain area. Artwork is selected from many submissions and then loaned to Sculpture Evergreen for a year. Each of the artists whose work is selected is paid an honorarium and awards are given to those voted by the public as the favorites.

A trail map showing the locations of the permanent sculptures and Sculpture Walk art is produced each year and widely distributed throughout the greater Evergreen area. A map of the sculptures is also available at www.sculptureevergreen.org.  The “Guide by Cell” feature enables viewers to use their cell phone for a self-guided tour.  Each sculpture has a plaque with the Guide by Cell number (303-562-0435), and the sculptures unique number. The tour provides a narrative about each sculpture, the artist’s inspiration, what to look for and why.

Each of the sculptures is for sale, and some have become part of the permanent collection, thanks to donations from individuals, grants from the (SCFD) and Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) and others. Sculpture Evergreen is also indebted to the generous property owners who allow sculptures to be placed in accessible and scenic locations throughout the community.  Oliver found his prominent spot when Andrew McWilliams, Managing Broker and part owner of RE/MAX Alliance Evergreen and Conifer recognized the potential of the location and contacted Sculpture Evergreen about using it for an installation. 

In addition to Baby Oliver, Jeff Best delivered a Bugling Elk that is now located at the Lutheran Church on Meadow Drive.   He stated, “I’m so blessed to be selected to come back to Evergreen once again this year.  Bringing Baby Oliver and well as a large Bugling Elk.  Evergreen has been very good for me and my work at Devils Rope Studio.  I’m a truly blessed man.” 

Look for opportunities throughout the summer to buy tickets and own your own Oliver!

Heather McWilliams © 2019

Evergreen Rodeo Weekend! Featuring the Evergreen Rodeo Drill Team, Rocky Mountain Renegades!

Let the fun begin! – Father’s Day Weekend and Evergreen Rodeo Weekend are synonymous in Evergreen Colorado.  Having a rodeo in a small town is a historical and special privilege, not to mention a PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) Rodeo.  Being a PRCA Rodeo holds the standards of animal treatment and care to the highest level. 

The PRCA has more than 60 rules to ensure the proper care and treatment of rodeo performance animals.  The rules and regulations are detailed and include important measures such as on-site veterinarians, animal inspections, type of equipment used, treatment of animals, shipping, frequency of activity, and the list goes on. 

Impromptu Evergreen rodeos started in the early 1900’s to entertain locals, celebrity visitors and affluent easterners summering in the Evergreen area.  The first regularly scheduled rodeos started in 1935 becoming a yearly professional rodeo in 1947, attracting big-name national rodeo competitors traveling the PRCA circuit. 

One of the highlights to be seen on Evergreen Rodeo Weekend is the Evergreen Rodeo Drill Team, known as the Rocky Mountain Renegades.  In the last 7 years, Denise Schupp, a mountain area native and resident, has refined the drill team into sought after performers, representing Evergreen and the Evergreen Rodeo all over the state.  Denise states, “It (the Evergreen Rodeo) is an important part of the heritage of Evergreen and we are thrilled to be a piece of that history.  It combines my greatest passions – Evergreen, horses and drill team.” 

Denise has passionately spent a lot of time bringing the team to the next level of professionalism to ride in several performances throughout the year and all over Colorado.  With the help of the team, she has upgraded the costumes to give variety and a professional appearance as well as changed the choreography and music every year while constantly making improvements along the way.  The team practices for 2-3 hours weekly, starting in January and running through September in various locations depending on the weather.

Drill teams are a lifelong pursuit for Denise.  She joined Westernaires in 1972 when she was 9 years old and rode with them for 10 years.  She performed with Westernaires for 5 years at the National Western Stock Show Rodeo and eventually graduated as Captain of the Varsity team at Stock Show 1982.   From there Denise has served as a coach for Westernaires riders for a total of 24 years. She was also a paid consultant to other drill teams in Colorado and Wyoming to help them create teams, drills, and all of the other logistics.   She joined the Evergreen Rodeo Association in 2011 and rode with their drill team that was performing at the time.  The President of the Rodeo Association had heard of her experience riding and coaching and wisely asked her to take over the leadership and be the manager/coach of the struggling team. The is her 8th year riding in the Evergreen Rodeo with the drill team and 7th year as the manager and coach.

Most, but not all of the drill team riders, are alumni of Westernaires, have a drill riding background and vary in ages from 19-56.  The team has varied yearly from 13-22 riders, 20 being ideal. This year there are 18 riders who live in Brighton, Parker, Westminster, Littleton, Sedalia, Castle Rock, Bailey, Conifer, Indian Hills and Evergreen.  All riders own and care for their own horses or borrow from others on the team.  There are even two sets of sisters and one set of brothers on the team. 

No to be forgotten is the indispensable ‘ground crew’ that help with everything behind the scenes.  Made up of spouses, significant others, parents, and others that help with costume sewing and repair, flag sewing, photography, first aid, mixing our music, and working in the paddock area running the gates and handling our flags. 

In addition to performing at the Evergreen Rodeo every year, they perform at the Roof Top Rodeo in Estes Park, the Boulder County Rodeo Ballet on Horseback, the Park County in Fairplay, the Little Britches Rodeo in Evergreen, the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, and Zuma’s Rescue Ranch black-tie fundraiser.  This year they will also be performing at the Denver Polo Club for their “Polo, Puppies and the Prince” fundraiser in August on their polo grounds! Additionally, the drill team has ridden in the National Western Stock Show parade for the past 7 years.

When can you see the devoted Rocky Mountain Renegades Evergreen Rodeo Weekend?!  They will be near the head of the parade through Downtown Evergreen carrying sponsor flags from local businesses.  At the rodeo performances, they will ride 2 drills in the pre-show, the Grand Entry in the opening performances, and an intermission performance drill in the middle of the rodeo on both Saturday and Sunday. 

Tickets on sale now at evergreenrodeo.com!

Rodeo Weekend Schedule –:

Saturday, June 15, 2019

10 AM – Parade

3 PM – Gates Open

3:30 PM – Preshow

5 PM – Rodeo

Sunday, June 16, 2019

12 PM – Gates Open

12:30 PM – Preshow

2 PM – Rodeo

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!  Be a part of the fun and dust off your cowboy hat and boots!  There are many volunteer positions available to help put on this incredible weekend of fun!  Contact Marty Unger at [email protected] or 303-204-6642.  Heather McWilliams © 2019.

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