Quick Home Search

Support Jessica Austin January 23rd at Lariat Lodge Brewing Company!

One of our local fixtures in the horse community needs your help.  Not because she is asking for it, but because that is what we do as a community.  When people are vulnerable and share their struggles, it allows others to share the load, the struggles and the joy.

Jessica Austin, “Jess” has lived in Evergreen since 2010.  Jess is one of those individuals that people gravitate to.  She is warm, welcoming and a ray of light in the world.   Jess has been riding and has had horses since her Grandfather gave her a pony at 8 years old. From there she says, “the rest was history and I’ve been riding, rescuing and restarting horses ever since.”

She is an animal lover to the core and has rescued three horses – Kola, Zoe and Courage.  All three had a rough life to begin with, but once under her loving guidance, have come to trust people again.  Animals and people alike are drawn to her home at the Broce Ranch.  A friend of Jess’s describes her this way, “Her door is always revolving with people stopping by to talk to her, get horse advice or relax. She opens her door to all . . . She’s the type of person that would put herself in debt to give to someone else in need or to save an animal.”

Carolyn Knapp-Nelson met Jess boarding at Helen Mleynek’s Elk Ridge Ranch when Jess first moved to Evergreen.  They connected as two English riders in a Western world. Carolyn rode Dressage and Jess at the time rode to condition for Fox Hunting. They had great respect for one another and rode the back trail to, and in Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space together.  Through riding together on our mountain trails, Carolyn found Jess to be an accomplished rider with soft hands, respect for her horse, and fearless.

Carolyn states, “Jess has great insight to horses and loves all her animals dearly.  With Jess, knowing how she approaches riding and life in general, I think she will meet this cancer thing with the same fearlessness.  Jess will be okay, as she is smart and brave to be meeting breast cancer head-on. Her bravery and strength will get her through the medical and emotional challenges, and Zoey and Courage will be waiting, at the gate, when she is ready to get back out on the trail.”

After moving to Evergreen in spring of 2010, between the fall of that year and May of 2015, Jess was locked in one medical battle after another.  What began with the discovery of masses attacking her kidney and ovary progressed into a frightening timeline of surgeries:  A partial kidney removal, then another, then finally a complete removal.  More masses led to a full hysterectomy, plus removal of lymph nodes, adrenal glands, and part of her stomach lining.  After a surgery early this year, a pulmonary embolism (blood clot) nearly killed her.  Her medical staff was astonished at her sense of humor and resilience, even in the face of these horrific procedures, and nicknamed her “Star Pony.”

Back to work with $12.34 in her pocket, it looked like the worst was behind her.  Although this fall, she was diagnosed with a form of breast cancer — HER2+/estrogen negative/progesterone positive — that has mystified and intimidated even her doctors.  Jess underwent a double mastectomy surgery on December 30th.  The costs are above and beyond her insurance coverage.

Jess is one of the welcoming front of the house staff members at the amazing new Lariat Lodge Brewing Company near downtown Evergreen.  The Lariat Lodge is dedicating Saturday January 23, from 11am to 11pm the Star Pony Fundraiser.

The Star Pony Fundraiser will be an all-day music event with local musicians donating their talents, fantastic barbecue from Chef Michael, an amazing silent auction and many ways to come alongside Jess with a portion of the proceeds for food, drinks and tips going to help Jess with medical expenses.  HOW CAN YOU HELP?  Please come share the load for Jess on January 23rd 11am-11pm at Lariat Lodge – 27618 Fireweed Drive or donate to her You Caring page:  www.youcaring.com/jessica-austin-494391.

Visit her Facebook page for updates at “Star Pony Fundraiser and Updates”

Thank you Margaret Rode & Carolyn Knapp-Nelson for your words and Tanya Buck for the great pictures!

Please Be Our Guest! Client Appreciation & Artist Exhibition January 9th, 1-4pm!

Please join us for our 1st annual Client Appreciation & Artist Exhibition Open House at Junction Box – 1075 Park Ave W, Denver – January 9th between 1-4pm.

Thank you for making us your go to REALTORS when it comes to Ranch, Recreation and Residential Properties!

We are honored to be able to host this soiree at the Ranchlands Art Exibit.  Artists who have taken their inspiration from the Chico Basin Ranch and the Zapata Ranch managed by Ranchlands, have offered to extend this exhibit just for you!

As you savor the delicious appetizers and libations, we hope you will find a piece to take home.  All art sales benefit ongoing projects at Ranchlands, plus 5% of art sales will go toward Colorado Horsecare Foodbank.

Several of these artists can also be seen at the Coors Western Art Show running January 9 – 24th.

ARTISTS INCLUDE :  DUKE BEARDSLEY, SOPHY BROWN, TERRY GARDNER, MARK GOULD, JILL SOUKUP, LANI VLAANDEREN, STEVE WEAVER.  Click HERE to view entire exhibit.  Select artists will be attending this soiree.gouldchicoranchhouse


ranchland logoRanchlands
is a diversified ranching company that owns and manages large-scale ranch operations. Our goal is to preserve ecosystems and our ranching heritage on a profitable basis from what the land will produce. For more information visit RANCHLANDS.COM



Tickets to RAM Invitational Freestyle Reining at NWSS

Tickets to An Evening of Dancing Horses at NWSS

3-Night stay at Zapata Ranch for 2 people –Zapata Ranch is a working bison, cattle and guest ranch owned by The Nature Conservancy and operated by Ranchlands in the San Luis Valley in Colorado



please rsvp by December 30th

303.638.0994  [email protected]

Venue:  1075 Park Ave W in Denver, not far from Coors Field.  Junction Box is a brick building at the corner of Arapahoe and Park Ave W – The gallery entrance is off of Arapahoe.  Parking is available on the street or in nearby parking lots.Map Junction Box

You can lead a horse to water, but is he allowed to drink it?!

Many residents of our Foothills communities, the Denver Region, and even the entire State of Colorado give no thought to 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, at a recent Intermountain Horse Association meeting, Colorado Water Commissioner Tim Buckley explained 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 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, barrels, or puddles in the pasture, is not necessarily available for a landowners use.   Matter of fact, unless a property owner has specific legal rights to use rain water, ground water, 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.  Common categories are Household, Domestic, and maybe Livestock.   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 horse or two – but the parameters of use will be very well defined.

Domestic wells are more likely to allow for the watering of an outdoor pet 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.

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.  The good news is that 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.

In 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.

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 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 in’s 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 patience and determination.  A quicker and more cost effective alternative would be to install a cistern at your home 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 adjudicated water rights, especially in cases where more than a well permit is being transferred.  It may cost you several hundred dollars, 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 © 2015.



Working Equitation – It may not be what you think it is!

When I first heard of Working Equitation, I only heard the last word, Equitation and had flashbacks of rail classes growing up and in college.  Of uncomfortably hollowing out my back to get the right look for the judges.  Please forgive me Equitation stars, but that is my memory.  Then sometime this year, I saw a YouTube video on Facebook of Pedro Torres of Portugal on one of several fabulous Lusitanos he rides in an event called Working Equitation.  I was intrigued.  High speed, over and around obstacles with impeccable form and finesse.  It was kind of like Dressage, at high speed with obstacles.

Reviewing past information I had come across with my newfound knowledge of this sport, I realized that people in our community had already been honing their skills in Working Equitation (WE).

Italy, France, Spain and Portugal pioneered WE.  The discipline was created as a way to enhance the riding techniques developed in countries whose riders use horses in different aspects of ranch and fieldwork.  The goal of WE is to preserve and perpetuate each country’s style of equitation as well as their cultural traditions of dress and tack.

The first international competition was in 1996 and in 2004 the World Association for Working Equitation (WEWA) was established to govern the sport.  WE has continued to grow throughout Europe and is rapidly catching on in the Americas.  Christina 1 al sh100WEWA rules are used for international competitions, but each individual country maintains their own rules.

In WE competition, there are four trials or tests that make up the event. The first three, Dressage, Ease of Handling, and Speed, are required for both individual and team competitions. The fourth trial, Cattle Handling, is included for team competitions. It is mandatory at national championship competitions and encouraged at all other competitions when facilities allow. From the www.weiausa.com website:

Dressage – Dressage tests are ridden at each level. Each movement is given a numerical score, and collective marks are given for impulsion, compliance, calmness, rider’s position, etc. The dressage tests are designed to both test the horse and rider as well as to serve as an aid in training. The movements at each successive level build upon movements of the previous levels and coincide with the type and difficulty of movements expected in the Ease of Handling and Speed trials at the corresponding levels.

Ease of Handling – Obstacles are set up to simulate the difficulties encountered by a horse and rider in the field. Obstacles are numbered and are ridden in order. The goal of this trial is to negotiate the obstacles with accuracy, ease, and smoothness.

Speed – The obstacles utilized in the Ease of Handling trial are ridden at speed with no emphasis on style. Individual scores are based on elapsed time through the obstacles with time penalties added for mishandled obstacles. This trial is designed to test the rider’s co-ordination and capacity for anticipation in addition to the horse’s qualities of submission, speed, attention, and finesse.

Cow Trial – This trial tests the ability of a horse and rider to work, individually and as a team, with cattle. The test is performed with a team of 3 or 4 riders. The objective is for each rider to individually sort, cut, and herd a pre-selected cow from the herd and then as a team put it in a designated pen. As a timed event, there are time penalties for course errors.

Indian Hills resident Christina Turissini was seeking to get more involved in WE and found that most of the Working Equitation clinics and competitions were either north or south of Denver, leading her to start a local group.  To keep informed of local events coming up, find and join our group on Facebook under the name, Foothills CO Working Equitation.   The group is for any type of horse, rider or saddle interested in honing their horsemanship skills via the sport of Working EquitaWorking Equitationtion.  The news feed and “Files’’ section on the Facebook page is full of information about WE.  After creating the group, Christina has organized local clinics and individual lessons with Instructor Jennifer Holroyd.  In addition to the clinics, some of the members are hosting play days at their homes, which will continue through the winter months.

Jennifer Holroyd was born on a ranch in Portugal where the skills for Working Equitation were the daily standard.  She started competing in Show Jumping competitions at the age of 10 and eventually competed at the international level all over Europe.  In 1974 she married and spent 25 years in California where she taught and competed in Dressage, Combined Training and Show Jumping.  She is also considered a leader in the field of alternative therapies for horses including Chiropractic and an innovative technique using acupuncture points and sound vibration using tuning forks.

After attending a WE clinic in Indian Hills this September with Jennifer, I discovered that not only was she an excellent teacher for basic riding fundamentals, but the WE obstacles gave a focal point to many of the training maneuvers riders of different disciplines often strive to improve.  In a nutshell, this local group is focused on using Working Equitation as a basis for good horsemanship and technique in any discipline, Western or English.  In addition to the information on the local Facebook page, go to http://lusitanoportal.com/working-equitation. Also, at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in March 2016, look for WE clinics being put on by the northern WE group. Now, go watch a video of Pedro Torres and you will be compelled to know more about this fast growing discipline!  Heather McWilliams © 2015

Working Equitation Clinic 6 med Working Equitation Clinic Sept. 1 med (1)

Intermountain Horse Association Poker Ride Results 2015!

Saturday September 19th, 72 degrees F and sunny!  59 riders of all ages participated in the IHA Poker Ride at Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space Park in Evergreen.  The last two years were cancelled due to Insurance Issues and Vesicular Stomatitis, but this year brought in one team shy of the 60 horse and rider record set a few years ago.

Ashleigh Olds DVM of Aspen Creek Veterinary Hospital and several of the staff helped check all horses for Vesicular Stomatitis.  In addition, Jeffco HEAT and the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank volunteers showed up in force to work the stations, set up, clean up, help with registration, serve food and help with parking.  Riders left at their own pace and picked up five cards along the set trail course to make up their five card poker hand.  At the finish, while the horses munched on their hay at the trailers, the riders enjoyed a catered lunch while they awaited the results.  Mary McGhee won the highest poker hand receiving $300, and Jess Austin won the lowest hand and $100!  The remaining proceeds of over $1200 was split between two of our local, but nationally known organizations – Jeffco HEAT and Colorado Horsecare Foodbank.

Jeffco HEAT (Horse Evacuation Assistance Team) was founded in 2002 in Conifer by resident Scott Halladay.  It is volunteer organization that is dedicated to serving and rescuing large animals because of wild land fires, natural disaster, accidents, animal cruelty and impounds.

Under the direction of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Animal Control Division (or other County law enforcement), Jeffco HEAT has assisted in the rescue of more than 2,500 animals and has been on the scene of many of the front range’s major wildland fires (i.e. Hayman, Lower North Fork, Black Forest, Lime Gulch) as well as the flooding in the fall of 2013.

The dedicated volunteers of Jeffco HEAT are committed to a high degree of training and safety. All members are certified in First-Aid/CPR, basic wild land fire training, possess a working knowledge of the Incident Command sys­tem and are familiar with radio opera­tions and protocol.  The “fire” team has further wild land fire certification training obtained through the Jefferson County Incident Manage­ment Team and other local fire depart­ments.

In addition to the fire training, some members also have certifications in tech­nical animal rescue, high angle rescue and swift water rescue as well as formal radio operator training.  Jeffco HEAT is equipped with a Colorado Department of Agriculture rescue trailer, containing essential lifesaving equipment needed for rescues such as an Anderson Sling, a rescue glide, a generator, and rescue ropes.  Go to JeffcoHEAT.org to learn more, volunteer and donate to this important organization.

Colorado Horsecare Foodbank was started by Evergreen resident Juliana Lehman in 2009 after the economic crash of 2008.  The drought across the United States sent hay prices sky high, while people already struggling in the economy were losing ground trying to feed and care for their horses.  Knowing the importance of keeping horses with their families going through temporary hard times, CHF formed and raised funds for hay, farrier and veterinary care for these horses and people in need.

CHF has continued to keep up with the needs of horses, other hooved animals and their people.  In the fires of 2013, CHF supplied over 90 tons of emergency hay to the Black Forest fires to feed starving horses whose owners had lost their homes, barns and significant stockpiles of hay.  That September brought the devastating floods in Northern Colorado.  CHF supplied over 500 tons of emergency hay and established a hay storage station to help to feed horses, llamas, alpacas, cattle, sheep and goats, whose hay, shelter and barns had been washed away.

After six years in operation, dealing with natural disaster response with an all-volunteer team, Colorado Horsecare Foodbank earned the attention of several prominent animal welfare groups which provided grants for growth, expansion, more hay, outreach, and education, including the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Banfield Charitable Trust, Colorado Unwanted Horse Alliance, and the Sally Beck Foundation, businesses, and charitable foundations.

Moving forward in 2015, Colorado Horsecare Foodbank is working to secure multiple locations along Colorado’s Front Range for permanent storage of emergency hay, as well as obtaining more heavy equipment, building up its education and outreach programs, and much more.  For more information go to www.horsefoodbank.org.

The Intermountain Horse Association invites you to the first meeting of the fall on October 20th.  IHA meets in the slower horse activity months of October – May, every 3rd Tuesday at Beau Jos in Evergreen in the Event Room from 6:30-8:30pm, the speaker starting at 7pm.  Food and beverage are available for purchase, but optional.  It is a perfect way to socialize with other horse people in your community, enjoying interesting and informative speakers.  A great line up of speakers are in the works that apply to all shapes of horses and saddles!  Visit the IHA facebook page at www.facebook.com/IntermountainHorse for the latest.

Thank you to all of the IHA Poker Ride sponsors:  MtnHomes4Horses.com at RE/MAX Alliance 303-638-0994 – helping buyers and sellers of properties for horses and their people; Aspen Creek Veterinary Hospital  303-697-4864; Amy Dunkelman – Double H Horse Boarding & Training at Broce Ranch + Mountain Homes & Horses, LLC.   Coldwell Banker 303-921-0315.  See you at the October 20th meeting!  Heather McWilliams © 2015.

Ireland in the Fall

(Continuation of “Three Summers in Kentucky”)

The Keeneland Summer Select Sale is one of the top sales for bloodlines and the finest Thoroughbred yearlings money can buy.  It is truly an international affair with buyers from all over the world gathering to carefully go over the horses with their trainers, blood-stock agents, breeders and conformation consultants.  Sheik Mohammad is always one of the significant spenders and after the sale, he ships the long yearlings to his Kildangan Stud in Ireland to be started.

Brenda riding La Luche by Kris near Garden House

Brenda riding La Luche by Kris near Garden House

After graduating from Colorado State University in of May 1992, I made my way back to Kentucky for the third summer to work at Sheik Mohammad’s Gainesborough Farm until I would catch a flight to Ireland with the recently purchased horses.  In August, the horses going to Ireland were sent to Louisville to load the plane.  I was amazed at how easily they all walked up the narrow ramp into the windowless cargo plane.

The plane crew constructed standing stalls, three across as the horses filled the plane.  The rows alternated nose or tail forward so that they were facing each other.  In the very front was a box stall for a mare and foal – 41 horses total.  A narrow aisle ran along each side with a few rows of plane seats in the tail.  A manager of one of the King Ranches and I sat in the seats.  Otherwise, the only other people were grooms for the horses.  At take-off and landing, the grooms asked us to stand with a row and help keep the horses calm, for the rest of the flight we were just passengers in the misty rain created by the condensation from all of the horses breathing.

When we arrived in Dublin, the horses were unloaded and loaded on to several horse boxes (mid-size cargo trucks built to carry horses).  We made the one hour trip south to Monasterevin, just south of the town of Kildare in County Kildare.  The horses were then delivered to one of the 10 Yards (aka Barns) spread over the several hundred acres at Kildangan Stud.

Upon arrival, one of the security guards asked if I wanted a lift into town to get some groceries.  Soon we pulled up in front of a grey stone garage and I realized we had arrived at the shop aka grocery in the tiny town of Monasterevin!  No sign, no one around, but sure enough, I went in and there was a shop keeper and one or two of a modest variety of items.  One orange, one apple, one loaf of bread, two jars of jam and so on.  He drove me to my new home which was a flat aka apartment at the far end on the top of the main estate home that was being renovated.

Over the next six months or so, my three roommates and I – Nina from Norway and Lisa and Emma from England – braved the

Main house - Our flat was the upper right section with 3 windows.

Main house – Our flat was the upper right section with 3 windows.

halls and staircases of dark rooms and flapping plastic to our flat.  Since that home, I have never been afraid in a house alone again!  Grooms lived in various places around the Stud including the Garden House, the Gate House, the Main Yard and in a few homes grouped together.  Each fall, Kildangan Stud hires help from all over the world to start the few hundred young Thoroughbreds for flat racing (horse racing without jumps).  There were people from Japan, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Scotland, England and Ireland of course.  With about forty mostly 20-somethings coming together in one place with a passion for horses, the culture was lively and social.  All of the grooms were devoted and experienced horse people.  Several worked or had worked as jockeys and a head trainer was always present to oversee the horses.

In the first few days after arriving we were fitted for shoes by the local cobbler by them measuring and tracing our feet.  We were also given jumpers aka sweaters and jackets with the Stud’s logo for work attire.  Our hours were an unwavering 7am to 4pm, Monday through Friday and Saturday 7am until noon. There was of course a 20 minute tea time at 10am and an hour lunch at noon.  At tea time, one was invited to the closest house or flat for a cup of black tea and lots of toast with Orange Marmalade Jam.  After I had been there a couple weeks the Guarda (aka Police) somehow had been alerted that I had come over from the US and stopped by the Stud to check my passport.

Ritchie Driving Colt

Ritchie ground driving

Each week everyone was rotated to a different Yard except the Yard Foreman’s who stayed with their horses.  The horses were brought up from the pastures in the morning and we were each assigned certain horses for the day, told where they were at in their training and then we went to work.  Not much different than what is common here, we did a lot of round pen work and slowly added tack.  Different from some programs, we did quite a bit of driving from the ground (driving is the term used to drive a horse and carriage, like driving a car).   We started by double lining them in the round pen and then once they were ready, we drove them around the farm extensively to get them used to being out on their own in new surroundings before anyone was on their back.

Per usual, each horse progressed at a different pace.  When they were ready, we “backed” (got on) them in their stalls until they were comfortable with a rider and had some steering, then they went out in groups to the gallops (the track) with an older horse aka Hunter.  Like the horses in Kentucky, these yearlings were the who’s who of the Thoroughbred world.  They were doted on, groomed and cared for.  Some even had their own goat if they needed to have a constant companion to keep them happy.

At the end of the day my friend Marie (from Cork Ireland) and I, would occasionally get a lift into town to hang out at the local

Marie in foreground riding Brigata by Nijinsky.

Marie in foreground riding Brigata by Nijinsky.

pub.  The town of Monasterevin was small with no signs that I remember, to tell someone which building was which, but it had a grocery, church and a pub.  Going to a pub in a small Irish town is much like sitting in someone’s living room and sometimes it is!  Most of the time there was singing by anyone and everyone in the pub and one of the favorite tunes was of course American Pie by Don McLean.  The pub’s typically closed at 11pm, which was good because we had been there since 4:15pm.  Fortunately, the Stud’s night Security Guard was usually sport to give us a lift home.

In 1992 there were around 35 horse race tracks of sorts around the country.  Some were on the beach, all were grass and most were not flat, but instead followed the lay of the land.  Of course many of them also had jumps for National Hunt racing (horse racing over jumps).  One Saturday afternoon a few of us went to the races.  Instead of going to the window to bet, a live “Bookie” stood on a pedestal next to a chalkboard with their individual odds for the horses.  They had a wad of cash in their hand to take your bet and to pay out after each race.

In addition to the races, four of us went on a weekend trip to Ballenasloe in County Galway on the west side of Ireland.  The Ballenasloe Horse Fair and Festival is Europe’s oldest horse festival.  It was an incredible scene of people and horses covering an expansive field.  With no fences or barriers, horse shoppers wandered the field to view the horses and if they were interested in trying out a horse, one would hop on and take it for a ride.

Being one of two American’s, the non-American’s decided that we should all have Thanksgiving Dinner together.  One of the grooms’ family worked on a turkey farm and brought a fresh 21 lb. bird for the celebration.  It was a successful feast with turkey and accompanied by mashed potatoes, gravy, steamed broccoli and carrots, pie and egg nog!  No one had ever had egg nog before and they likely never did since.

Matt Nina with La Dolce by Sadlers Wells

Matt & Nina tacking up La Dolce by Sadler’s Wells

Late in the year, most of the horses were solid in their initial training and we started shipping them to different trainers in England, France and Dubai.  Grooms would ride with the horses in the horse box to the airport.  If the timing happened to fall over tea time, the horse box driver pulled off to the side of the road to break out their stash of tea and biscuits.  Once the horses were loaded on the plane, we waited to make sure their plane took off.  Interestingly we always knew which one had the horses aboard because, the passenger planes make an abrupt 45 degree angle after take-off, but the horse planes stay fairly level and gained altitude much slower.

My time in Ireland is quite distant in time, but made a significant impression on my life.  The involvement of working with so many horses in a short amount of time was a noteworthy lesson in learning to read a horse quickly.  More than that, the opportunity to live and work in a different country was an immeasurable experience.  One truly becomes immersed in the culture and becomes a part of it.  Shortly after I arrived in Ireland, I was talking with some grooms and someone in the pub said, “Oh, you’re from America.  Do you like American Football?”  Toward the end of my stay, I was asked when visiting Dublin if I was from Kildare!  Heather McWilliams © 2015

Conifer Resident Brittnee Woodward-Whitehead Wins Equine Comeback Challenge!

This past March at the 2015 Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, Brittnee Woodward-Whitehead and Forgotten Fortune aka Fortune won the Equine Comeback Challenge.  The 3 year old Appaloosa was one of 11 horses sent home with 11 different trainers last December. The horse and rider teams would meet again in March to compete in an AQHA style versatility trail class with 2 minutes of freestyle at the end.

A Home for Every Horse’s Equine Comeback Challenge started in 2014 when Mariah Hammerschmidt, the Project Coordinator for A Home for Every Horse, realized there was a need to find new ways to assist rescue organizations in their efforts to find homes for horses.  The Equine Comeback Challenge was modeled after the Extreme Mustang Makeover, to showcase unwanted rescue horses and their ability to become willing equine partners.

Founded in 2011, A Home for Every Horse is an outlet for Equine.com—the World’s Largest Equine Marketplace—to develop a long term partnership with equine rescues all over the country and use their resources to help find forever homes for the more than 170,000 unwanted horses in the United States.

Rescue horses have long been a passion for Brittnee and as a board member of the Colorado Horse Rescue Network, she remembers when they talked about starting the Equine Comeback Challenge.  “We decided, ‘let’s do this, but let’s do it with rescues (rescue horses)’.”  Not only does the competition raise awareness for the horses that need to find homes, but for also for the work of the non-profit horse rescue organizations.  Horses in rescues that are untrained are typically difficult to find homes for, but the Equine Comeback Challenge provides a platform for them to get started under saddle, opening up their prospects to find forever homes.  Brittnee states, “This competition is very much about the rescue horses and giving them value.  The horses that go through it walk away and they are all worth something in the end.  That’s the biggest win you could ever ask for.”

The 11 rescue horses selected to compete at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo this spring were provided by regional rescues; Colorado Horse Rescue Network in partnership with Ruby Ranch Horse Rescue and Spring Creek Horse Rescue, Triple Acres Horse Rescue, Far View Horse Rescue, Mountain View Horse Rescue, CANTER Colorado and Shiloh Acres Horse Rescue.

All of the horses were deemed unwanted and randomly placed with the 11 trainers.  Fortune was surrendered as a stallion after his owner and breeder had passed away.  Castrated just before Brittnee brought him home for the 90 days of training before the competition, he was basically untouched. 1617696_10153153110873023_8991216957498889039_o

Not new to horse training, for the last 10 years Brittnee has been starting young horses and rehabilitating troubled ones for many of the horse rescues in Colorado as well as individual owners.  She has also started and finished barrel horses for the local X2 Ranch for several years.    Brittnee anchors her training in putting a correct foundation of trust and confidence into her horses to set them up for success for the rest of their lives.  With that in mind and with Bailey trainer Rod Miller as her coach, she started to earn Fortune’s trust.  Within a week they were able to have their first ride.   With limited access to an indoor arena, starting a young horse in the middle of a Colorado winter can be a challenge, but that did not stop Brittnee and Fortune from getting outdoors and many miles under saddle.

Since the competition, Brittnee and her husband Charley Whitehead purchased the boarding and training facility on the corner of Pleasant Park Road and Oehlmann Park Road in Conifer under the name Old Glory Equestrian – OGE.  They offer the highest level of horse care in boarding and training services surrounded by a family friendly environment.  OGE offers full training and lessons with a combined 50+ years of experience between 3 trainers.  They offer training for everything from starting young horses to trail riding to making a finished Reiner.  Old Glory Equestrian incorporates into their business model funds from their boarding and training business to support saving, re-training and finding homes for several rescue horses a year.  Brittnee understands that the key to the rescue horses finding a good home is training.  The private horses in training and boarders make it possible to take in some “freebies” every year, give them a proper education and find them a suitable home.  Old Glory Equestrian is not a non-profit business, but they feel that as a part of the horse industry we all have the responsibility to give back.

Fortune can be found this summer showing at the local 4-H and club shows with Brittnee’s 14 year old sister Kassydee.  They have a growing collection of first and second place ribbons to show what a great team they are making!  Heather McWilliams © 2015

Contact Brittnee at 303-901-3740, [email protected], 23615 Oehlmann Park Road, Conifer oldgloryranchconifer.com, www.facebook.com/OldGloryStables.

Video of Brittnee and Fortune’s winning run:  https://www.facebook.com/339401218022/videos/vb.339401218022/10153241976033023/?type=2&t

Evergreen’s Rodeo Royalty: Meet Sierra, Lauren & Gabriella

With the coming of the Evergreen Rodeo on Father’s Day Weekend, the 2015 Evergreen Royalty will represent their town, the history and the tradition of the Evergreen Rodeo.  These three young ladies have spent the last year serving our community, preserving our western heritage and promoting rodeo.  They represent the Evergreen Rodeo Association and community as ambassadors with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.

The Evergreen Rodeo Royalty spends numerous hours volunteering for events throughout the year, starting with the National Western Stock Show and various community events throughout the state of Colorado. They volunteer several hundred hours promoting the community, local rodeos and rodeo events all over the state of Colorado, including our own this year June 19th-21st.

The Evergreen royalty includes, Miss Evergreen Rodeo (ages 17 – 24), Evergreen Rodeo Princess (ages 15 – 17) and the Evergreen Rodeo Junior Princess (ages 10 – 14).

Contestants go through an extensive competition that takes place over several days and events.  The girls are judged based on the following criteria: formal and casual modeling, impromptu questions at each event, two personal interviews with the judges, a speech, a written exam and a full day of horsemanship.

Jody Benefiel, Evergreen Rodeo Royalty Coordinator states: “they work all year round going to various events representing our rodeo. They are amazing, intelligent and beautiful young women who will get up at the crack of dawn, drive several miles or hours to reach an event, be royalty ready with hair and make-up done and an assortment of outfits for whatever comes their way and always ready to help out where ever they are needed.”

In their own words, the Sierra, Lauren and Gabriella talk about their horses and what being part of the Evergreen Rodeo has meant to them over the past year.

Sierra Knodle, Miss Rodeo Evergreen

Ever since I can remember, I have had a passion for horses. When I was much younger, I was like any other little girl, posters of the majestic animals on every wall, horse stuffed animals everywhere, not to mention every Birthday wish list began with one item; My very own horse. At this time I was only four or five and what did horses mean to me? They were big, fast, beautiful animals. They were outstanding pets that could, of course, be dressed to match in all purple. I could braid their beautiful manes and tails and maybe even add a couple of flowers.

As I continue through the journey of life, I have had many passions, but they have come and gone. It is my horses that have been there through everything. I fell in love with the sport of rodeo, as well as the rodeo queens, early on in life. However my thoughts on them are similar to the horses. It wasn’t until much older I learned what it was really about. Rodeo was something greater than I had ever imagined. A sport that was all about hard work, bringing athletes together through man and animal.  Queening is also similar. As a child, I saw the rhinestones, the pretty horses and the crown. But as my last few weeks as Miss Evergreen Rodeo are soon to be over, I am reminded daily that having the opportunity to represent the Evergreen Rodeo as their queen isn’t just about wearing the crown. It is about sharing my passion for rodeo and my unconditional love for horses, and helping others find their passion too.

Now over 12 years later, I can again share with you what horses mean to me. Yes, they are still big, fast, and beautiful animals – and I do enjoy braiding their tails. But to me, they are so much more than that. Horses are teachers, best friends, and one in a million partners. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. There is only one thing that makes me even happier then working with my own and that is sharing my passion with others. My goal is to help young cowboys and cowgirls discover everything these magnificent animals have to offer. I hope to help them to find not just the beautiful animal, but the partner, best friend, and teacher, all in one.

Lauren Hladik, Evergreen Rodeo Princess

I own two amazing horses, a 9 year old AQHA mare, Sugar and a 22 year old Thoroughbred gelding, Eddie.  I’ve lived on Pine Grove Ranch in Kittredge my whole life, so I’ve always been attached to my horses at the hip!  My Grandma, Nancy Hladik had my sister and I on horses since we were about 3 years old and I’ve been in love ever since.

My family has been involved with the Evergreen Rodeo Association since it was called the Bear Creek Rodeo Association.  My Grandma, Nancy Hladik was Mrs. Evergreen Rodeo in 1981 and the Evergreen Rodeo is something that my family always plans ahead for a year in advance!  I grew up there and always wanted to be a member of their Royalty.  I knew when I was crowned the 2015 Evergreen Rodeo Princess, I would be able to represent the Evergreen Rodeo, but as my year advanced, I realized that I am representing the rodeo that helped shape who I am today.  The Evergreen Rodeo has helped cultivate my love for rodeo, my hometown and my overall personality.

My sister and my parents would say I have definitely become more full of myself, ha-ha, but they would also agree with me that being royalty has helped me mature as a person.  I have learned to be punctual, more responsible and polite, while representing the Evergreen Rodeo.  These qualities have carried over into my personal life as well.  I have received compliments about my level of maturity, in the most random places, anywhere from my physical therapist office to my school!

Since I had the rare opportunity of being able to grow up on a ranch, I think having a connection with animals is extremely important as a young child.  It develops certain traits that you can’t learn any other way, such as responsibility, respect and millions of things about animals that helps expand your overall life knowledge.

Gabriella Otero, Evergreen Rodeo Junior Princess

This past year as the Evergreen Rodeo Junior Princess has been amazing.  Each event taught me more about the rodeo’s rich history and I was able to share my love for riding and horses. It is impressive how the rodeo association is able to dedicate their time and energy to the community of Evergreen, not just the rodeo and I was a part of that. Most importantly, I learned how to be confident around others and to do what was in their best interest.

I enjoyed meeting new people and going to new places. I never realized how many community events there are in Evergreen throughout the year. I had to build my stamina to help at each one and never lose my smile! I think my favorite was face painting. I cannot wait until rodeo weekend when the whole community comes together again and I can ride my horse in the parade. See you out there!

Join us Father’s Day Weekend!  Go to evergreenrodeo.com for more information on the Evergreen Rodeo Royalty and a complete schedule of events.

2015 Summer Calendar – Listed by Entity

Colorado Horsecare Foodbank FUNdraisers!

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

May 16 & 17 and May 23 & 24 – Flowers for Food. Buy amazing flowers for your home while helping fill the coffers with hay! 2 Denver locations – Central – West Washington Park, 760 S. Emerson Street, Denver or North Denver – 5175 Perry Street, Denver. Pricing and products on website.

July 18 – Black Tie Silver Shoes. Enjoy an evening with horses at the Queen City Horse Show at the National Western Events Center in Denver.

October 2 – Hay Bales & Horse Tails – Amazing evening of food, fun and shopping for horse stuff! This year will be at the Hudson Gardens cabin on Santa Fe Blvd in Littleton.


Colorado Corral Western Dressage Clinic & Ride-A-Test

October 3, Evergreen Rodeo Grounds. See 10/3 on Event calendar at MtnHomes4Horses.com for more information. Clinic in morning, Ride-A-Test in afternoon.

Colorado Corral Ranch Race Competition & Clinic

October 4, Evergreen Rodeo Grounds. See 10/4 on Event calendar at MtnHomes4Horses.com for more information. Clinics in morning, competition in afternoon.


Centaur Rising Horse Camps, Clinics & Shows

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

June 7 – Foothills Dressage Schooling Show

Little Kids Camp/Basic Horse Camp

June 9-11 FULL; June 23-25 FULL; July 7-9 FULL

Basic Horse Camp/Intensive Horse Camp/Advanced Horse Camp

June 15-18; July 14-16

Little Kids Camp/Basic Horse Camp/Intensive Horse Camp

July 28-30, 1 space remaining

July 19 – Centaur Rising Dressage Show I

August 4-6 – Dressage Camp

August 9 – Centaur Rising Dressage Show II


Conifer Area Gymkhana Series

McKeever Arena, 12190 S. Ridge Road, Conifer, CO.  303-697-9537.

Sunday June 7, July 12 & August 2


Double Header Performance Horses – Clinics & Competitions

Tombstone Ranch in Pine, Colorado. www.dhperformancehorses.webs.com and www.facebook.com/dhperformancehorses. [email protected] Micaela 303-918-6367, Luke 303-993-9038

May 23 – Beginner Trail Clinic (for beginner riders or green horses, anybody who wants to introduce their horses to the obstacles)

May 30 – Roping Clinic (will be towing a roping dummy around with a four wheeler so will be on horseback)

June 13 – Intermediate/Advanced Trail Clinic (for anybody who wants to fine tune their skills or their horses skills on the trail obstacles)

June 27 – Roping Clinic (same thing as the first one)

July 11 – Beginner Horsemanship Clinic (for anybody needing help with their horses or themselves)

July 25 – Trail Course Challenge (will be a competition scored on the extreme trail course and timed on the property trail course)

August 8 – Roping Jackpot (normal team roping jackpot but will be using the dummy not live steers, geared towards beginners in previous clinics)

August 22 – Advanced Horsemanship Clinic (for anybody wanting to fine tune their skills or their horses skills)


Evergreen Ranch Sorters Association

Reffel’s Arena, Wandcrest Drive, Pine Junction. 10am-2pm. [email protected] 303-674-0340.

Annual membership is $150 for the season plus $25 weekly sorting fees. Come as a guest for up to 3 times at $50 per weekly sorting. Come see why ranch sorting is the fastest growing equine sport in the country and fun for riders of all ages!

Sat. 5/30, Sat. 6/6, Sat. 6/13, Sat. 6/27, Sat. 7/4, Sorting and BBQ/4th of July Potluck, Sat. 7/11, Sat. 7/18, Sat. 7/25, Sat. 8/1, Sat. 8/8, Sat. 8/15, Sat. 8/22, Sat. 8/29, Sun. 9/6, Sun. 9/13 Buckle Sort, Sat. 9/19, Sat. 9/26. Sun. 9/6, Sat. 10/3.


Evergreen Rodeo Association

RODEO WEEKEND! www.EvergreenRodeo.com. Volunteers still needed! Don your cowboy boots and hat and enjoy the festivities while you help support this amazing local historic tradition! Contact Marty Unger – [email protected]

June 19 Friday – Friday Family Fun Night Benefit for Tim Shirley 3:00pm and 10:00pm. Great family event including muttin bustin, stick horse races, barrel racing plus many more activities. Live music will be provided by ‘Runaway Train’ from 8:00pm to 10:00pm.

June 20 Saturday – Rodeo Parade, 10:00 in downtown Evergreen

June 20 Saturday – Rodeo Performance, 2:00 at the Rodeo Grounds

June 21 Sunday – Rodeo Performance, 2:00 at the Rodeo Grounds


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

May 17 – Arvada Hoofprinters Show – Westernaires Arena – Indoor Arena at the Jeffco Fairgrounds (Adults can ride in this one)

June 28 – Horsefeathers Show – El Pinal Arena (Evergreen) – Outdoor

July 11 &12 – Pleasant Park Horse Show – McKeever Arena (Conifer) – Outdoor, this is our club’s event, 2nd day is the speed events (Adults can ride both days in this event)

July 19 – Jeffco Ranger/Wranglers Show – Jeffco Event Center Arena (Fairgrounds) – Indoor

July 26 – Ranch Race Trail – Table View Arena – Outdoor – Adult classes

August 2 – Pleasant Park Gymkhana – McKeever Arena (Conifer) – Outdoor, not a show, just speed events – adult classes

August 6 & 7 – County Fair – Jefferson County Fairgrounds – outdoor, only kids can compete

August 27-30 – State Fair – Pueblo

September 6 – Equine Event – Rodeo Arena, more info to come!

September 27 – Horse Council Fun Show – Table View Arena


Syzygy Coaching

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

June 26 – Leadership through the Eyes of the Horse–an equine guided course in leadership development

June 27-28 – Equine Vision Journey to your Next Chapter –an equine guided personal growth retreat

July 24 – Millennials! Generation NEXT! Leadership Through the Eyes of the Horse – an equine guided course in leadership development for millennials

August 11 – Mom’s Daughters and Horses – an equine guided retreat to celebrate the mom and daughter relationship

September 12-13 – Equine Vision Journey to your Next Chapter- an equine guided personal growth retreat


Trail Riding

Ever wish you had people to trail ride with and see all of our amazing local parks? Now you do! Most of the rides are on varying weekdays and are at a different park each time. This is a small group and safety is key. We ride to the level of the greenest horse or rider. Dates and times vary. Email me at [email protected] to be added to the list. Questions? 303-638-0994.


Tucker Black Horsemanship Clinics

Red Hawk Ranch, 12754 US HWY 285, Conifer. Other events coming, check website for latest information. www.tuckerblackhorsemanship.com, or www.rhrconifer.com. [email protected] 303-870-8389.

June 13 – Horsemanship

August 1 – Ranch Riding & Horsemanship

September 26 – Ranch Riding & Horsemanship

Front Range Backcountry Horsemen

The Front Range Back Country Horsemen (FRBCH) work behind the scenes, unknown to many trail riders and campers, to clear the trails, educate and to serve as advocates for horses on the trails. In more detail, their three main objectives as an equestrian service club are to keep the trails in the Mount Evans and Lost Creek Wilderness areas, as well as the Pike and Arapahoe National Forests outside of Denver, open to horseback riders and pack stock; to educate the public about various horse related topics such as camping with horses; and to act as equestrian advocates with local, state and federal governments.

Whether you trail ride or not, it is critical to recognize the importance of the few groups that actively work to ensure the usage, safety and condition of the trails. New members of FRBCH are always welcome and will enjoy not only the comradery of the group, but will ride and camp in some of the most spectacular places on earth.

Last September, several FRBCH members met to be re-certified as “sawyers” for the US Forest Service by Forest Ranger, Ralph Bradt. The certification took place at the south end of the Ben Tyler trail in South Park where the trail was in desperate need of clearing. They met in the morning, some with horses, although many did not bring their horses because of the Vesicular Stomatitis outbreak. The group, Friends of Mount Evans also participated and many planned to stay and camp for the weekend. The certification included demonstrating all of the saw cuts the club uses in the forest to clear trails.

FRBCH carries four different sizes of club-owned saws, including two 42 inch crosscut saws that can be used as two person saws and bypass loppers, used to cut back overgrowth. In the wilderness, mechanical saws are not allowed. Most members receive certifications for clearing down trees, while some are certified to fell trees and use chain saws. Every trip includes certified members to supervise the activities of those who are not certified. By the end of that weekend, they had cleared 64 downed trees and had received their re-certifications in preparation for this year.



The busiest time for the FRBCH is late spring, summer and early fall. They meet several times a month with their horses, at various locations, to work on clearing the trails and making sure they are wide enough for a packed horse or mule to navigate. Trips range from day trips to camping trips, during the week and on weekends. Members participate in the trips when they can and they are typically ready to ride at 9:30am on work days. Some days involve quite a bit of tree clearing while others are light. On weekend trips, the group stays at the trail head to allow members to pitch tents or sleep in their trailers. On occasion, FRBCH brings along their club camp-stoves and everyone pitches in to enjoy breakfast and dinner together. In addition, many members are very experienced at camping with horses and packing into the backcountry and they are always willing to share their knowledge.

One of the yearly highlights is the Colorado Trail ride that FRBCH hosts for members. This year the ride is seven days long, with one day off in the middle. By doing several segments each year, FRBCH completes the entire Colorado Trail in five years. It is a completely catered ride where a support team moves the camp daily, supplies and prepares all of the food for the people and horses. It is a great way to experience the Colorado Trail, get your feet wet backcountry camping with your horse with experienced packers and riders. This year the ride is July 18-26 and is broken into three segments, allowing people to do all 7 days (Platinum Membership, $780), 4 days (Gold membership, $480) or 3 days (Silver membership, $380). Visit the website for more details.

Other services FRBCH provide are carrying water up to noxious weed spraying areas, building corrals, mapping trails with GPS and packing out abandoned camps for the US Forest Service. Furthermore, they have an Ambassador Ride to patrol the Christmas tree cutting areas on behalf of the US Forest Service and ride in the annual Parker Carriage Parade in December.

As advocates for horses on trails in the backcountry, some FRBCH members attend meetings held by local, county or state government when there is support needed related to the use of horses, access and parking, and whether trails in a particular area should remain open to horseback riders. Horse people attendance at these meetings is critical to show support in numbers for horse activities, alongside the hikers and bikers.

Front Range Back County Horsemen holds monthly meetings for business and planning. Find the schedule and more information on their website, www.frontrangebackcountyhorsemen.org (or www.frbch.org), or call President Kitty Bladt at 303-984-2387 or Vice President Linda Baur at 303-670-3550.  Please consider becoming a part of this fun, educational and important group! Heather McWilliams © 2015.